Flora Faith-Kelly, Project Coordinator for Trinity Laban’s Learning and Participation’s Community and Professional Development (Music) Team, gives an update on delivery in the coronavirus context.

Trinity Laban’s Learning and Participation team are responsible for an array of public-facing music and dance programmes for people of all ages. Our staff tailor programmes for children and young people, for adults and for schools, as well as operating our Junior Trinity department and the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT).

We have had to make considerable adjustments to our programmes this year in order to find Covid-secure avenues for sharing high quality creative engagement. We endeavoured to move as much of our activity online as quickly as possible following the first lockdown in March 2020, with artists and participants alike rapidly familiarising themselves with Zoom and/or MS Teams and testing their creative capabilities.

The CAT programme shifted online in April 2020, with students participating in weekly Zoom, Instagram Live and pre-recorded Vimeo classes. Alongside their technical training, students continued to engage in creative tasks to explore and celebrate the digital dance revolution.

Similarly, since January, Junior Trinity has moved all music programmes back online, taking what was learnt about online learning during the first lockdown and adapting teaching and learning methods to be as engaging as possible. There have also been virtual weekly students’ concerts, with students submitting video recordings from their homes to share with students and staff, as well as virtual masterclasses during half-term featuring some of the top musicians in the UK.

The teaching team in the Dance department have established digital dance classes for children and young people as well as moving their vast range of popular adult classes onto Zoom, continuing to provide people with opportunities to move and feel good whilst stuck at home.

As well as continuing our regular adults groups, dance classes and activities, we created free and accessible resources for adults and young people wishing to Take Part at Home, adapting our existing offers to fit an online environment and identifying areas where new content could be of use to the public, with a particular new focus on health and wellbeing. Mindfulness has become a key part of our offer now, not just in weekly online sessions of health groups Singing For Lung Health and Dancing for Health, but in all of our work.

With regards to our older adults music and dance programme, Inspired not Tired, we are truly grateful for the number of group members who, despite being unfamiliar with the daunting world of online video conferencing, took the leap of faith with us. Our freelance artists have worked tirelessly to support the regularly meeting groups in both our Inspired not Tired and Health Programmes in continuing to come together and create. You can read some of their reflections on this period of delivery on the Pause and Replay blog created by two of our Inspired not Tired programme music artists, Natasha Lohan and Zoe Gilmour with features from Dance artists and group members. Our groups have settled into both socialising and creating online, now comfortable in their digital environment and exploring the collaborative potential allowed by remote connection.

Cross-group collaboration with older adults groups Voices in Motion, The Befrienders, Boundless, Young at Heart and health group Singing For Lung Health resulted in the composition of a beautiful response to the times we find ourselves in called ‘What is Hope?’. In the past year there have so far also been collaborations with Trinity Laban students, Merry Neets with Cumbrian choirs, socially conscious creative discussions with Queens House,  and even a feature on The Albany’s Meet Me Radio on 2 February 2021.

Group participants are also further embracing their individual creative abilities, increasingly bringing their own poetry, song lyrics and melodies to share and develop. Online delivery has allowed past group members who had left London and family members from far away to join sessions, offering opportunities for reconnection. Newsletters, creative postal packs and phone calls have allowed us to stay in touch with those who have not made the move online, such as members of our Young at Heart group who we hope to bring together for group calls via Skype this term.

Our new youth engagement project  Intersections also had to be adapted to work online this year, with TL Alumnus Garrett Snedeker and a small group of Trinity Laban students partnering with local charity METRO to provide online music workshops to local LGBTQ+ youth groups. Despite these students being completely new to musical facilitation and much being required of them to adapt to the new circumstance, the project has been extremely successful in an online format, allowing the group time to focus on process rather than outcome.

Our Animate Orchestra programme moved online with two successful creative music projects for young people, the participants generating music and film content from scratch as an ensemble, expertly guided by our tutor teams led by Sarah Freestone. Exploring and embracing the audio lag in this music making, and quickly sharing scores, sound files and sketches to enable instantaneous private rehearsal and the elaboration of ideas, they resulted in a couple of highly original resulting films which could then be shared widely.

We also had to transform our Young Musicians’ Summer School into an online offer, engaging with over 60 young people across four days in late July, with projects in songwriting, music technology, writing music for film and a virtual orchestra, the latter giving the young musicians the opportunity to remotely perform alongside artist Ayanna Witter-Johnson. Similarly, running our Girls and Young Women in Jazz Day as an online event enabled us – despite the huge limitations of not gathering in the same space to make music together – to bring some high profile artists from across the UK onto the Zoom platform, and sharing insights with the young people involved.

Incredibly, through moving dates around at short notice and working with social distancing guidelines and changing states of lockdown, we managed to start a new project collaboration with Tomorrow’s Warriors, recruiting a great new cohort of young people through a series of face-to-face sessions, which acutely demonstrated the appetite and urgent need for those young musicians to be making music and socialising together again. The project continues online, but hopefully not for much longer…

Very little has had to stop in Learning & Participation at Trinity Laban, rather new methods have been found and made to fit the needs of our community and of that we are exceptionally proud. To see more of what we’ve been up to visit www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/takepart.