In August 2022, Handel Hendrix London facilitated a three-day music programme with the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC). The idea behind this collaboration was to introduce to vision impaired children the process of composition, writing lyrics and melodies using your own mind, body and imagination. Composer Ben See came together with a small group of young people at the RSBC to explore singing together and to create an original piece of music. He introduced the notion of storytelling and explored the themes of new beginnings, starting something new, finding hope. These themes, which are mirrored by Handel & Hendrix’s current refurbishment plans, were welcomed by the participants and they all shared their experiences of starting something new. We discussed the sometimes-scary feeling of being or feeling alone and how we can come together to transform what holds us back into a positive outcome. It was lovely to hear everyone’s experiences and their positivity shone through to create this anthem of hope and celebration of our different journeys through life.

On the third and final day of the project, 4 members of The Sixteen joined the participants to rehearse and sing their creation. The score was shared with the singers alongside a few notes shared by the young creatives, and they then rehearsed the piece. After a few runs, the piece was ready to be recorded. Recording engineer Adaq Khan ensured that everything was sounding brilliant for the digital release. Creative Director of NMC Ellie Wilson also came in to give a presentation to the young people about NMC and the recording industry and they then worked with Joanna Ward, to come up with an album cover which represented their piece of music for its digital release. By talking about what they wanted their piece to convey and what it meant to them, Joanna was able to find appropriate colourful imagery to express joy. The open door in the middle of closed doors, refers to the different paths that we can take and that even when it seems like you are stuck in a challenging situation, there will always be an open door somewhere that will lead you to happiness, acceptance, hope.

The young people also chose a name for themselves as a group: ‘The Creative 10’, after being inspired by The Sixteen who they had just worked with. The words of the song are as follows:

Open up your book,
Find a new story to tell
Look inside yourself
Then you’ll find that life goes well.

Open up your heart,
Find your own story to tell
Look inside yourself
Then you’ll find that life goes well.

It’s a brand new day
(Nothing can stop you now)
And sometimes things can go wrong
(Let the light shine through)
Wipe the tears away
(Nothing can stop you now)
And always stay strong.
(Let the light shine through)

Come together, work together,
Yeah yeah, many questions to think of.
Come together, work together,
Yeah, yeah, where are the answers?

You may have barriers in your way,
But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
There might be paths which will be hard,
Challenges to overcome slowly.

Come together, work together,
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Be true to other people,
Be true to other people,
Always be there for your family and friends,
Always be brave on every path you choose.

So be excited about your life,
And live with joy,
Show yourself.
(Be brave about being on your own,
Be brave about being alone.)

So be excited about your life,
And live with joy,
Show yourself.
Show yourself.

 

‘It was really fun! I loved being able to sing with the choir and sing my own ideas!’

 ‘it was really cool to be able to have so much control and ownership over the song we were writing. Especially when designing the cover art work, and getting to see the professional recording set up’

‘It was honestly so amazing! While I prefer rock music, it was still really fun to explore a different music genre and be inspired by it.’

‘A huge thank you to Ben and Handel and Hendrix. I’m not overly confident at singing, but after the week I feel like I am a lot more confident to sing in front of others and use my voice when I start to write my own songs’

 

Ben See, workshop leader of the project says: “I had a wonderful time working with 10 young people to create a brand new piece of vocal music. The group were imaginative and daring in their approach, and I think our final piece ’Show Yourself’ is full of heart and courage. It was a true collaborative process, and everyone contributed lyrically and musically to shape the song. The group were amazingly supportive of each other, and everyone had space for their own ideas and individuality to shine. I’m really proud of the participants and the piece we’ve made together. I think ’Show Yourself’ is a brilliant coming together of ten young minds and unique perspectives.”

 

Why Music activities are so important and how they benefit VI young people:

“I feel that Music is of great importance to Vision impaired and blind young people. While a vision impairment undoubtedly will cause disadvantages to young people in a variety of different subject areas, music remains to be one that is much lesser effected in terms of the possibilities of engaging vision impaired young people. Music can create bonds and allow for those with VI’s to still actively be a part of music activities, perusing careers in music, as well as accessing it to much more similar levels and standards of those without VI’s whether it be an educational, extracurricular or career focussed context.”
Owain Robinson, RSBC Community Support Worker

 

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