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Improvised Music Leeds: a case study in adult education Paul Hession

bookPaul Hession, University of Leeds, School of Music, United Kingdom

Improvised Music Leeds: a case study in adult education


This paper is an empirical piece of research taking the form of a case study of a community music workshop that ran from !!" to #$$$ in inner%city Leeds& 'f the regular participants, which was typically a group of fourteen( five were female and nine male& The participants) ages spanned five decades ranging from those in their twenties to others in their si*ties and the level of prior musical e*perience varied from +eginners to music graduates& Low course fees were maintained throughout( the workshops +eing funded eually +y -orkshire .rts and Leeds Leisure Services as part of a /ommunity 0evelopment programme&
Project background and context

1 am a musician 2drummer3 working mainly in the genres of 4a55 and 6uropean 7ree 1mprovisation 26713 and 1 was motivated to run music workshops from the mid nineteen%eighties as a way to try to develop some grass%roots activity in my home town and unearth musicians who might +e future potential colla+orators& . key influence was the developing /ommunity Music movement which was +roadly aligned with socialist ideals and encouraged inclusivity and open access& /ommunity music may +e understood as an approach to active music making and musical knowing outside

of formal teaching and learning situations& 21t3 is an intentional intervention, involving skilled music leaders, who facilitate group music% making e*periences in environments that do not have set curricula& 2Higgins, #$#31n fact, 1 chose a very particular music that is uite a+stract, eschews conventional rhythmic grooves and which reuires adherence to unam+iguous guidelines, while giving the musicians great freedom to e*press themselves within agreed parameters& .lthough Leeds is a +ustling, confident metropolis, as one of 8the provinces) it suffersfrom the migration of am+itious musicians to the capital, where there is an esta+lished community of like%minded fellow travellers& My own circumstances led me to stay in the north, as 1 had a young family and 1 could not uproot them for an uncertain future in London& 1 worked with a handful of like%minded players to developan improvised music scene in Leeds( +uilding on the work done +y Leeds Musicians) /ollective in the seventies, organising and playing many concerts at the Termite /lu+2promoting improvised music since !9:3 and 1 first inaugurated a series of music workshops for the ;orkers) 6ducational .ssociation at the Swarthmore /entre, Leeds in !9<& This ran for three years during which time 1 devised strategies to teach +ased on a deconstruction of my own methods and use of the ideas of drummer=educator >ohn Stevens 2Stevens


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