A cutting-edge series of video masterclasses aimed at demystifying the process of writing music for young people launches today (Tuesday 15th September 2020). Ear Opener is a free how-to guide featuring interviews with celebrated musicians and composers from across the genre spectrum including Brian Eno, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, award-winning composer Isobel Waller-Bridge, composer and saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi and rapper Lowkey. It is written and presented by award-winning composer and Clod Ensemble co-artistic director Paul Clark.
Ear Opener combines simple, accessible explanations of the tools that people who write music use every day, with an honest discussion about the creative process. It has been created for any young person creating their own music – whether they’re studying music at secondary school or making music in their own time.
The series was designed with ages 14–20 in mind, with over 20 videos designed to spark creativity and ambition. However, Ear Opener will be valuable for musicians of all ages, whether making music with a computer or acoustic instruments. Viewers don’t need to know any music theory or read music.
Ear Opener simply explains complex concepts, using a range of musical examples and a mixture of visual learning tools. Paul Clark draws on over 15 years’ experience of working in secondary state schools with students who have consistently achieved remarkable results in composition.
Paul Clark said: ‘For the last 15 years we have been developing tools to help young people write the music they want to hear; we now have the opportunity to share them online. With huge cuts to education budgets and radical changes to the place of music in the curriculum, it’s essential that we support young people from all backgrounds to become the next generation of inspiring musicians, composers and listeners.’
Ear Opener is for anyone who wants to write any kind of music – from hip hop to baroque, film music to pop. Interviews with celebrated composers across all genres give valuable insight into the creative process – from dealing with feedback and writer’s block to maintaining your mental health.
Innovator Brian Eno, jazz composer and Mercury Prize nominee Cassie Kinoshi, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, award-winning composer Isobel Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Black Mirror), rapper and activist Lowkey, prolific composer, librettist and singer-songwriter Errollyn Wallen, British-Bahraini trumpet player and composer Yazz Ahmed, film and TV composer Carly Paradis (Line of Duty, The Innocents) and pop music songwriter Tristan Landymore (Ellie Goulding, Kano).
In recent years there have been repeated warnings that music education in schools – particularly state schools – in the UK is in crisis. This has grown as schools cut time and resources devoted to music and other creative subjects, in order to focus on so-called ‘core’ subjects. The problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and music risks being even further marginalised. As part of Clod Ensemble’s wider campaign, they will also be targeting school teachers who feel under-confident teaching the composition element of A-Level and GCSE Music.
Aside from the many benefits learning to play music can have on other aspects of education, as well as students’ mental health, there are fears that the decline in music lessons will have a negative effect on the UK’s multi-billion-pound music industry in the future.
Music is integral to the lives of all young people. Ear Opener is designed for anyone who wants to make music regardless of their musical background. The aim of the project is to give young people the tools to push themselves further or perhaps into a new area of their music production and feel confident in creating ambitious, rich musical projects.
Ear Opener is produced by Clod Ensemble – an award-winning performance company with charitable status, based in London. Since the company’s formation in 1995, composer Paul Clark and director Suzy Willson have created provocative, finely crafted work, ambitious in scale and concept. Clod Ensemble has a strong reputation for providing innovative community and education projects, for all ages, teachers, artists and healthcare professionals.
Clod Ensemble is a winner of the Times Higher Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. Ear Opener draws on Clod Ensemble’s 15 years’ experience of working in secondary state schools and has been created in consultation with music teachers and students. It also builds upon the company’s Living Room Music project, currently running at three London state schools.
Image credit: Freepik