Nicholas-Stannard, Elizabeth (2016) Towards a personal methodology embracing aspects of experimental music practice and its impact on children’s music making. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

By combining experimental music and improvisation with voices, objects, games and songs, this research explores how children can develop their abilities without the restrictions of traditional notation.

This research involves children, professional musicians and the Edges Ensemble, a university experimental music ensemble that combines experienced and inexperienced performers. Six new pieces were composed for the project and each explores real-time decisions within a score, asking performers to interact and make each performance of the scores unique. Some pieces were written for specific musicians using original notation with elements relating to their instruments. Others are open to any sound source to allow anyone to access them. The final pieces are text scores for voice. All have a theme of sounds interspersed with silences.

David Blunkett’s White Paper (2001) states that all children should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument through whole class lessons. Ofsted’s most recent report suggests this has been ineffective and that, overall, children have not found the process easy. This research aims to explore an alternative approach, giving children the skills to take control, to perform, and to respect the musical contributions of others, whether as a pitch on a traditional orchestral instrument, a vocal sound or a stamp in the dark. The research has brought calm where there had been chaos. It has also relieved frustrations around instrumental progress for those who are not able to take instruments home.

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