Intrigued by an unusual press
release, I travelled up from Edinburgh on
Saturday 26th October to attend and much enjoy a
rather remarkable musical event which took place
in the elusive Perth Studio Theatre. I
eventually found an assembly of over thirty wind
musicians who presented a varied programme
consisting of short pieces taken from classical,
folk and traditional music, following the
leadership of tutors Tricia and Trona.
The afternoon was powerfully
characterised above all by what I must describe
as an inundation of enthusiasm.
There was the obvious enthusiasm of the
eager players who had mostly travelled from
furth of the immediate Perth area for this
event. There was the infectious enthusiasm of
the two tutor/conductors who set up and now
Blast programme of musical workshops. There
was the responsive enthusiasm of the audience
who greatly enjoyed the carefully and
attractively orchestrated pieces, and joyfulness
and fun of the event.
The participants came to be playing from
individual parts tailored to their playing
abilities, and to join with other musicians,
some of whom they were meeting for the first
time, for an event which did not claim to be a
concert; it was merely an engagement to make
enjoyable music in public with fellows at a
similar level in their musical development. When
the music making came to a close, audience,
musicians and organisers joined together in
little groups, meeting fellow enthusiasts to
share endorsement of the value of the
Blast initiative and all that it offers.
There were two interesting
breaks from the music. Trona and participant Dr
Maggie Robertson spoke briefly and
thought-provokingly of the value of musical
involvement in keeping the brain active and
resisting decline. Then, at another point, the
players were asked for a quick show of hands on
had started playing their instrument
from scratch within the last five years?
considerable majority proudly declared
their relative inexperience, which for
some was of less than a year’s duration.
Who had taken a wind instrument up as an adult, or had returned to it
after a gap of 10 years or more?
Another overwhelming majority were in
Who had played in the beats’ rest?
No one was
prepared to admit in public to that
error, although I understand one or two
have since confessed…
Tricia and Trona had a vision
four years ago of providing workshops for mature
people who have always, or even recently,
aspired to play a wind instrument, but have
never got round to it, and felt great
apprehension about taking the first steps
They thought of this activity, and
formally describe it, as “group music therapy
for frustrated adult learners.”
Their participants clearly regard these
workshops as offering them a safe and
encouraging environment to tackle the
challenging demands of a wind instrument while
enjoyably making music computer-scored in
multiple individual parts by Trona, to be within
the capability of each individual attender.
Thus tentative beginners can be given the
opportunity to develop their musical skills, to
make music with peers, and to find pleasure and
fun in so doing. On Saturday, all concerned saw
the effectiveness with which this vision has
become a reality.
Surprisingly, relatively few
of the musicians came from Perth itself.
It thus seems likely that the fair city
can be a reservoir of recruits for further
expansion of this admirable workshop programme.
If so, they will find, as Saturday’s
players have done, that
Blow and Blast brings an enthusiasm-generating opportunity for
lifelong learning of psychologically proven
value to prospective musical beginners in mid
and later life.