Music-making can mean many things to different people: for some, it can be a form of art that allows an individual freedom of expression; it may mean playing together in an ensemble to build friendships and provide a sense of belonging; and for others, it can be a way to escape the real world. Ultimately, music has a voice and no matter who we are or where we are from we can all enjoy and appreciate it.
Before I joined the team at Orchestras for All, I believed that music has the power to inspire and the ability to cross the boundaries of gender and class, culture and faith to level out differences and unite individuals. After my placement here, I am that even more confident that this is the case. When you see young musicians growing in confidence and passion from the work that OFA provide, you realise just how powerful music is. It may be an unconscious process and we might not be aware of how reliant we are on music. However, when you think about it, music surrounds us everywhere in life. Shops play music to entice us to buy their products, radios use music to define their image, religious groups use music as an act of worship, individuals listen to music to occupy their spare time…the list is endless.
Since music is so important to us, it is a shame that there seem to be so many barriers to music-making, particularly with ensemble playing; such as social-economic backgrounds, location or exclusivity. This is why it is so important to keep organisations such as OFA alive and is one of the reasons I am so pleased to have been able to work here. They are helping those who, for many reasons, and undeservingly do not have the same access to music as others. It is sad we live in a world where many young people miss out on opportunities they deserve. Therefore, providing assistance to those who need it most is crucial and if it comes from people as lovely and supporting as those who work for OFA, you couldn’t really ask for anything better.
If I could give advice to any young person who feels isolated or disheartened for not having the same access to music as others, it would be to not give up. There are people out there who want to help you. You may sometimes need to search a little bit harder than others to find this support, but it is there. And in the end, this will only make you stronger and more passionate as a person. I for one strongly believe that a musician with integrity and musical expression carries more respect than a technically flawless musician who lacks a sense of passion or their own expression.
I have loved my placement here and will really miss some of the special moments that have been created. A big thank you to Marianna and Stuart for putting up with me these last few months and to everybody else who has helped me develop on the way. I am off to Ghana now for a few months to work on using music as a therapeutic tool in order to give those who have started life at a disadvantage the opportunity to develop and grow as a young person. I hope, when I return, I can share my experiences with the team of OFA and come back to help at the residential courses to stay involved in all the great work they do in providing musical opportunities to young musicians.