Tales of the Young Person’s Orchestra (TYPO) was a community music project designed to familiarise children in special education to Western classical music. The Project was funded by The Radcliffe Trust, and Pete Thomas and all at CafeSaxophone.

TYPO was grounded on a reciprocal workshop strategy whereby participants explored the sound worlds, themes and characteristic instruments of classical music while also drawing on the nuances of their individual musical engagement. The music was not conventionally taught to the participants, but put at the service of their expressive, communicational and sensory needs and preferences. The final outcome, a performance, a recording, a sound collage, or a combination of all, was the result of a process of mutual discovery. 

TYPO saw supported creative music-making take place in three Special Educational Needs settings in Southampton:

The Avenue (Rosewood Free School) – (19-25yrs with PMLD and SLD)

Springwell School – (4-11yrs with children within Autism Spectrum)

Mary Rose School –  (2-16yrs with mixed SEN/D, SLD and PMLD setting) 

Following a collaborative model which we have developed and consolidated over the years, we explored an innovative partnership between SoCo Music Project and the Southampton-based SóN Orchestra in association with Turner Sims. SoCo’s experienced Music Leader and composer Ignacio Agrimbau (MA, PhD) and musicians from SóN designed an inclusive music-making programme that is responsive to the possibilities, talent and preferences of the students. Our flexible approach was grounded on an understanding of the unique communicational, sensory and emotional needs of the children that represented a source of potential and creative exploration.

The full report is available to download here.

Feedback from SÓN and SoCo Musicians:

“This has been a uniquely happy and stimulating project that has been very well planned and made me feel I was doing something with genuine significance and not in a perfunctory or patronizing way. Above all I think it was the feeling of it as a joint contribution that made it such a pleasure. I do realise that this presupposed Ignacio’s all-important ability and responsibility to conceive of so many “personalised” collaborations between us and the students involved. The fellow instrumentalists were also all remarkable in their contributions”Andrew Knights – Oboist

“Having never done a project like this before, I found the whole experience to be incredibly eye-opening and beneficial to my perspectives on community music. I’m not the most outward person when it comes to both improvising and working with children (in general). Working alongside Ignacio and the other musicians, it helped me overcome my anxieties of making up different motifs and rhythmic variety, and the children themselves were so welcoming and open to ideas I feel we as a unit developed each other. Very very grateful I was asked to do this project – it was a great learning experience for me as a young musician” Claire Wright – Percussionist

“During this project I interacted more with each child, and I had the chance to respond to their musical wishes, impulses and reactions. The group dynamic was very well handled, engaging every student and keeping, what it felt like, the right balance between learning and making music fun and accessible”Anca Campanie – Violinist

“A great experience dissecting a well known classical piece and having the students re-arrange it so that it became a piece they could own”Adrian Cleverley – Trombonist

“There were many successes but a massive achievement, that was evident to me, was the level of understanding Ignacio had for each individual participants needs. This allowed him to create a bespoke piece of music that resonated with them, each on a unique level. This, in turn, gave the participants the best opportunity possible to showcase their individual strengths. This opportunity for some of the young people we were working with to express themselves in such a creative way and for each of them to have the time to do so was beautiful to see. I believe that many people who witnessed the final performance, who perhaps have known these young people for a long time, did not realise how talented they were. This is because they were allowed the time to explore their talents, time which they may have never been given before. This for me is the biggest success of all.”Louis Duarte, SoCo Music Leader

“Even though I wasn’t directly involved in the project as performer, or leader, I was stunned by the interaction with students and the development of the project overall throughout its journey. This has been a truly life-changing and life-affirming project to be involved in. The dramatic change in not only the students in each setting, but in the SÓN musicians involved too, is incredibly powerful to witness. We all know that projects such as this are desperately needed, yet too few and far between. This one, complete with incredible final compositions from Ignacio, stunning, interactive performances from all, and smiles and tears all round, shows that even changing one young life is a step in the right direction. We should all be doing more of exactly this.”Robin Browning, Artistic Director – SÓN Orchestra

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