young people composing and contemporary music

Johan E Andersson. 

Johan E Andersson. 

Throughout the forthcoming Nordic Music Days, the Nordic Composers Council has decided to place special emphasis on youth, composition and contemporary art music. This year’s conference focuses on working with younger children of ages 8–11 years.

‘Long-term consideration of ways to develop our knowledge of working with children and contemporary music is all about securing the regeneration of this genre’, says Johan E Andersson, composer, musician, sound artist, instrument builder and curator of the workshops and seminars during the Nordic Music Days 2017. ‘Contemporary art music has quite a hidden existence today. We want to introduce this music early on so that children become used to listening to it and enjoying it.’

The idea behind inviting Birmingham Contemporary Music Group to Nordic Music Days is to demonstrate how to use methods for working with contemporary music and children. Andersson hopes that this first venture will form the starting point to build a network comprising both people working with young people and those involved in contemporary art music, and in the long run begin work to introduce contemporary art music to children. The plan is to develop working methods that can be passed on to music teachers, which they can use in music education in schools.

‘From my perspective, an additional aim is about demystifying the “difficulty” of this music’, says Andersson. ‘There are lots of unwritten rules and habits about contemporary art music that can scare away a potential audience.’

One of the festival’s starting points has been to minimise the distance between the audience and the music, for example by allowing workshops involving children to be presented as programmed events, on an equal footing with the rest of the festival. ‘All to demystify and reduce the gap between audience and music’, concludes Andersson.

The first seminar, Young People Composing and Contemporary Music explores the teaching and learning of composition, and the place of contemporary music in schools, academies, colleges, and informal places of learning in the UK.

The seminar Music Maze Approach is an introduction to the Music Maze-method, a set of composing resources based on classical composers’ strategies and processes that can be used to support young people’s own composing. The Music Maze workshops (for ages 8–11, the first one for invited music classes only, the second open to the public) let children explore this method, and the results are heard in the Music Maze performance concert. The conference ends with a follow-up talk with the participants and lecturers.

Raphael Mabo