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Newark and Sherwood District Council putting a spotlight on music in Alive with Music meetings

A council has hosted its very first meeting with the sole purpose of celebrating and promoting the benefits music can offer our community.

Over 70 people attended the inaugural Alive with Music meeting on Monday, May 13, which was chaired by Rowan Cozens, deputy leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council and portfolio holder for heritage, culture and the arts.

Rowan Cozens said: “Music is so important and I wanted to organise an event that not only celebrated it, but also would act as first step towards ensuring that it is firmly placed as a focus for the district council.

The first Alive with Music meeting has been held.
The first Alive with Music meeting has been held.

“We heard [on Monday] from many musicians or composers whose lives have changed dramatically because of music. We heard from people who were introduced to music as young children and it helped shape them into the people they are today and prevented them from being distracted by unfavourable activities. The power of music shouldn’t be underestimated.”

During the event Sapphie Johnson, a young violinist from the area, who studies with the Junior Royal Academy of Music with Dr Chika Robertson, entranced the audience with a beautiful performance of Bach’s Allemande. Ruby Boyd played the guitar and sang her own composition, “Of the Wild Things” inspired by her favourite children’s book.

Alongside the music performances during the meeting, pianist and composer Chris Miggells, from Boughton, talked about his innovative approach to writing and creating music and performing it in unusual venues using acoustic quality to transcribe natural phenomena and experience.

Sapphie Johnson entranced the audience with a beautiful performance of Bach’s Allemande.
Sapphie Johnson entranced the audience with a beautiful performance of Bach’s Allemande.

Julie Fox, who sings and entertains in care homes and works in supporting those with dementia alongside other areas where music can provide comfort, also gave an inspiring talk about her diverse background in music and entertainment but said that what she does now is her most favourite thing. Her latest show, called The Memory Suitcase, uses props and songs to stir memories and start discussions to those living in care homes and those living with dementia.

Another speaker was Kevin McPherson who composes and produces music for film, TV, advertising and computer games. His talk gave insights into the world of the commercial composer, he spoke about how he writes music to a specific brief.

He concluded: “My life’s been changed by music, I’ve seen the power that it’s had on people who would otherwise take very destructive paths, and the same way this was shown to me by two of the people in this room, if everyone was able to pay forward in this way we’d be living in a far better world than we’re experiencing right now.”

There was also insight from Dr Runa Saha, a GP and clinical associate professor of medical education, who spoke about transferable skills between music and medicine.

Ruby Boyd performed her own composition, “Of the Wild Things”.
Ruby Boyd performed her own composition, “Of the Wild Things”.

At a critical stage in her life when many are forced to choose between their career and music, she found ways to keep both. She compared the dedication required to master a musical instrument with the hours of practice need to perform medicine and suggested the skills transferrable learnt through music can equip children to perform in other areas of life.

Dr Runa stated that all children should have access to music and encouraged us all to play a part in talking to those people who can make this happen. She concluded: “We need to highlight the benefits of a musical education to all who are in a position to provide access to it.”

Finally, Lincoln Abbotts, engagement director at the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music talked about the power music has for doing good and inspiring positive change. Building up a skills base in music means you can have real fun in it.

He added: “Having a go in music is fun. But it’s even more fun if you can keep going with it. You can’t use up creativity, the more use, the more you have, music promotes creativity. The competency of creativity is going to become ever more important.”

Rowan Cozens said: “I am delighted that this will only be the first in a series of meetings to drive this agenda forward. I know that this will be the beginning of something very special for Newark and Sherwood District Council and I look forward to seeing how we can support musicians going forward.

“My hope is that there will be people in the audience this time who will come forward to explain what they do at future sessions, not just the music makers, but also the makers of the instruments too. We want to hear from you all.”

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