Workshop and 1st Draft

What a brilliant afternoon of music making!  Gaynor Barradell handed out parts for our first draft of the music, eagerly awaited by myself and the band.  She had worked extremely hard since her last visit to have the first draft ready in time for a full Sunday afternoon of workshops.

The workshop opened with a warm up session from Gaynor herself to get everyone in the mood and then we were off and running.  Her enthusiasm and knowledge of the styles she wanted was not only informative but very infectious.

With so many new and juxtaposed styles, grooves and challenging rhythms the big question was, ‘How do I communicate this to the band and get the best from the players?’

With instrument in hand the week before the rehearsal I set to work personally exploring the different sections.  I tried to put myself in the position of the players and the different abilities in the band.  The only answer I could come up with was that it had to be unforgettable and a little bit crazy.

The sections of the workshops took many forms;

  • Playing around with notation and note values.
  • Dissecting sections and replacing the music with different vocal sounds, clapping and stomping to help feel the grooves and focus the mind.
  • Words and phrases to suit the tricky rhythms ‘I am going on holiday, yes and I…….’, ‘I can feel the rhythm’, ‘this is lovely’, ‘it is, it is lovely’, ‘I can play this rhythm, oh yes I can’

Did it work?  Just as quick as it started the workshop was over, rounded off by a full run through of the piece.  It was really starting to take shape and it really felt like we had made a lot of headway.  There was a lot of smiling faces leaving the rehearsal including Gaynor’s and mine.  There was only one thing left to do – visit the local Italian restaurant for a band and composer social.

Sarah Cunnigham

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