Guest blog: Creative Director Ben Vleminckx talks about enabling rural music making at Wiltshire Rural Music School

WRMS -BV-headshotAs Creative Director at the Wiltshire Rural Music School (WRMS) it is my aim to oversee the growth of community music making across Wiltshire with particular focus on rural areas. WRMS is committed to supporting and enabling people to make music in their own way. We currently offer a variety of regular activities for adults and children alike which take place at our Creative Hub on Gloucester Road in Trowbridge. These are ensembles and workshops that provide group playing experience, opportunities to continue to learn and one off specialist focusses, as well as positive social interaction.

We are calling out for more adult instrumentalists to come along to our Orchestra (fortnightly Saturday mornings), String Ensemble (fortnightly Saturday mornings) and Ebonite Clarinet Group (fortnightly Wednesday evenings). All of our groups are friendly and enjoyable and have a ‘playing for enjoyment’ focus.

wrms-038We also have a beginners String Group that meets weekly (Saturday mornings) called String-a-long that encourages adults to pick up a violin, viola or cello for the first time and is always looking for new members

Our Mini Musicians is a group for 0-5 year olds and their parents/carers which meets on a Monday morning in term time and is a great way to introduce little ones to basic music making, singing, movement and rhymes.

We offer some other really exciting opportunities for young people through our Bursary scheme and Liz Lawrence Award. Our Bursaries are open to any child that resides in Wiltshire and is often financial support towards lessons, equipment or expenses for courses or ensembles. The Liz Lawrence is for older musicians looking at going off to University or Music College. More details on our website.

As part of heritage we have a well-stocked bank on instruments for hire at competitive rates.

Please do contact us if you have any enquires to any of the above, we would love to hear from you.

Our New venture and focus going forward……………….

wrms-037As Wiltshire is a vast and rural county, often there are travel struggles to attend music groups/workshops/events. This is an area in which we are working on improving. ‘Music on your Doorstep’ is our new strategy to widening participation in music across rural communities. Through a selection of musical opportunities such as courses and workshops that are bespoke to communities needs and interests. Research has begun on creating a database in the form of an interactive map, which holds information about what’s on offer across the county and can be found on our website.  As part of this scheme we are also recruiting and training volunteer Ambassadors that will work with us a point of contact in their communities. This is a crucial part of finding out what the provision for music looks like and how we can support and grow activity in individual communities. We currently 10 Ambassadors across the county but this is growing, so if you are reading this and you live in a village across Wiltshire and want to know how you can become an Ambassador give us a call on 01225 753175.

As this is a new scheme, we have to start somewhere……….. We have chosen to target two communities for 2017 Bratton in the West and Great Bedwyn in the East.

wrms-163In March sees us launching our ‘Music on your Doorstep’ scheme with a Free Event in Bratton on Saturday 11th March 2017. The event offers taster sessions in Gospel Singing, African Drumming and Creative Composition as well as a Musical Treasure Hunt, Try and Instrument and various performances from groups such as Bratton Silver Band and other individuals. This ‘pilot’ event was put together alongside the Ambassador for Bratton who has provided some interesting feedback from discussion within the community. An event like this will allow us to ‘test the water’ and gauge interest. That and alongside feedback and thoughts of participants on the day, we can then produce an evaluation report and begin to look at ways in which we could support for more regular and sustainable activity.

We plan to run a similar style event in Great Bedwyn in the Autumn after building up more knowledge of the current activity there and building relationships with contacts in the communities. Please keep checking our website for updates on this.

WRMS Logo 2016 Pale outlinesWe have some exciting events coming up over the next year aside from our rural programme. Please find out more via our website and find us on Facebook and Twitter @WiltsRuralMusic

Ben Vleminckx, Creative Director, Wiltshire Rural Music School

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