West Sussex Music aims to keep music-making alive in lockdown

West Sussex Music’s virtual music centre intends to offer hope during the second lockdown, with a virtual open day coming up this weekend.

West Sussex Music in action
West Sussex Music in action

West Sussex Music’s CEO James Underwood said: “In these difficult times, it is great to know that children and young people in West Sussex are still able to make music together – online! More than 200 young musicians have joined activities at West Sussex Music’s Virtual music centre. It may not be the same as rehearsing in the room altogether, but the virtual music centre is the next best thing and gives our young musicians the opportunity to see friends, make new friends and nurture their love for making music together. It’s this kind of initiative that is safeguarding ensemble music-making for future generations.”

The virtual music centre gives members the opportunity to see themselves performing with each other by releasing two virtual performances each term: a short taster at half term and a full performance at the end of term.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

West Sussex Music’s head of music centres, Dave Bennet said: “Rehearsing ensembles online has been challenging, but productive! It’s a new experience for the vast majority of our students who, with lots of support from teachers, submit a video they have recorded of themselves performing their part in the ensemble as part of the online process.

“These recordings are layered to produce an ensemble performance in which students and their families can see and hear themselves performing together. The end of autumn term virtual performance will be a great Christmas present for family and friends and is available to families as a free download.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the effect the global pandemic has had on young peoples’ mental health and wellbeing, and there is a recognition amongst West Sussex Music staff that the virtual music centre is a positive force in this regard.”

Emma Milne, conductor of West Sussex junior wind orchestra, said: “The virtual music centre is a great opportunity for students to keep established friendships going and make new friends through a shared interest in music-making and performance. We all need a bit of music in our lives at this tricky time.”

On Saturday, November 7 the virtual music centre is opening its doors to all young instrumentalists and singers for an online taster session. Everyone is welcome, and it’s free of charge. To apply for the November 7 virtual music centre taster, click on the banner at http://www.westsussexmusic.co.ukDave added: “West Sussex Music is the largest provider of high-quality music education to children and young people in West Sussex, offering vocal projects, whole-class ensemble tuition, small group instrumental and vocal tuition and advice and support for schools as well as a comprehensive range of musical activities at its music centres.

“Through its curriculum support, professional development opportunities and facilitating role, West Sussex Music builds music into the very fabric of school life.”