For the first portion of this blog we will be investigating a question integral to our LLEN.
What is Community Music?
I bet there is a real definition to what “Community Music” is. I almost looked it up. However I thought I would investigate my own idea first.
Community Music is a different thing to different people. It really is any form of music making, formal or informal. It can be playing in a community orchestra or singing in a community choir. It can be listening to a busker on the street. It could be jamming with your friends in your bedroom. Many times people see all music making as a formal institution. It is set rehearsal time, working and perfecting notes to be able to perform. I admit this is where my vision of community music began.
I am not saying that either way is wrong or right, I want to say that first. Everyone’s experience is different. It has only been within the last year or so my idea of what community music is really expanded. It is also within that time I realized I have been involved in community music my entire life.
My first recognizable experience in “Community Music” was the joining of a community ensemble. Kitchener Musical Society Band is a community band that has been around for over 100 years in one form or another. The group gets together once a week for a 2 hour rehearsal, where we do our best to perfect music that we perform to the community. It is a group of varied individuals, technology sector, factory workers, accountants, entrepreneurs, students, teachers and only a few professional musicians. This form of community music was easily recognizable.
As time went on, I entered university and I started to understand the many facets of this concept. Community Music wasn’t regular. It didn’t happen from 7:30-9:30 on Mondays. It was every single group I joined with to make music. It was my church choir, school choir, brass quintet, baroque ensemble, teaching facility, school...
What was even more shocking was how much Community Music I had been involved for years. Community Music had worked its way into my life for years; it was a part of who I was. For years I had been contributing to the Community Music spirit. I had participated in festivals, workshops, bands and choirs. I had even been a recipient of a Community Music charitable organization and its endeavors. The farther I looked back the earlier I realized this concept had impacted on not only my musical life but my experience of being human for almost all of my life.
It was then I realized that basically all music making is communal. It is only in a few circumstances where you truly make music alone. What separates Community Music from regular music making is with the intention in which you make the music. Community Music is the act of making music with the mindset of community and social acceptance. Community Music is coming together to create, share, collaborate, deliver and perform music to those around you with the selfless intention of contributing to your community.
That’s my definition. What is yours?
Rebecca McKay is a music student at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Communications Director of Lyrical Lines Education Network.