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#ShareMusicLab – Training Lab with Karen Power

#ShareMusicLab – Training Lab Skövde

The last week of October was a busy one for ShareMusic. In Skövde, northeast of Gothenburg, we arranged both a course in puppet theatre and percussion and a #ShareMusicLab. This artistic lab had a slightly different approach than our previous labs, since this was a training lab focused on method development at the same time as it was a continuation of the project Bits & Pieces. The lab was led by composer Karen Power, who also had an important part in Bits & Pieces. The lab was divided in two parts: The first part concerned preparations for working with inclusive processes. In part two, the participants got to realise their preparations through inclusive work with a group from a day activity centre nearby. The lab participants were four musicians from Sweden, Ireland and Russia.

Intense and creative days with lots of laughter

The lab became five incredibly intense days with lots of laughter, discussions and music making. During the first two days of the lab, Karen Power prepared the participants with useful and flexible skill setups for the work that was going to happen during the second part of the lab. On the third day, the group from the activity centre joined the lab as the lab’s in-house ensemble. Karen explained that her aim with the work that day was to make sure that everyone was in a good place for what was going to happen next, and the ensemble and the participants got to know each other on safe ground. So, on the fourth day, Karen took a step back and let the lab participants take over as leaders, working with the ensemble in two groups. On the fifth and last day of the lab, this work continued and at the end of the day they had a sharing.

As with our previous labs, all participants and ensemble found the investigative work very rewarding. The ensemble from the day activity centre expressed that it was inspiring, developing, fun and exciting work. Some of them lifted the experience to work with professional musicians, but also the international aspect. One of them said that they felt everyone was truly on the same level, it was participation on equal terms. Another thing that was mentioned was that this kind of work sparks curiosity for new things and the discovery that music can be so very much. The act of communication was also emphasised; how you practice skills that are useful in everyday life as well as in music making.

Different perspectives

The four musicians experienced the lab from two perspectives: the first part as participants led by Karen Power, the second part as leaders. The fact that they in such short time with intensive work got both these perspectives, made them connect what they had learned and what they practiced in an instructive way. They neither knew each other, Karen nor the ensemble before working together, but they all learned from each other during the lab. Many questions arose during the lab. Pedagogical questions, discussions and thoughts about the balance between one’s own artistic ambition versus the inclusive work.

– This is a lab, Karen explained, and we hope to come away with some answers, more questions, and ultimately to figure out whether there’s a need for what we’re trying to do.

Thus, investigative artistic work is not only about finding specific research answers, it is also about finding arguments for the value of artistic work itself – questioning what we do in order to confirm its usefulness. Moreover, lab work explores what art, in this case music, can be. During a reflective conversation, one of the staff members of the activity centre recalled the first day when one of the girls had said that you could not possibly make music with the odd objects that Karen had presented to them. The girl instantly replied, with a laughter, that she had been totally wrong!

Summary

How can one summarise an artistic lab experience? Everyone seems to find it rewarding, but why? To use the words from those who had the inside experience, some of the keys seem to be equal participation, an overall togetherness in learning, investigating and awakening curiosity – not only about what music can be, but also a curiosity between people by communicating through art.

The lab was funded by the Foundation Signatur and aims to promote the development of inclusive ensembles.

#ShareMusicLab – Training Lab with Karen Power

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