Miriam Walsh is the artist behind the work of Red Note Ensemble in Cherry Road Day Centre, preparing the ground for the musicians, making sure that everyone involved has a part to play.  This is her feedback on the sessions.


 What happens when we slow down?

Over the course of the last few months I have being working with Red Note musicians, as well as staff and individuals at the Cherry Road Resource Centre, looking in detail at personal relationships with sound. Over the course of this project flautist Ruth Morley and cellist and Red Note Artistic Co-Director Robert Irvine have played four one to one sound sessions to individuals with profound learning disabilities at the centre. For these sessions we wanted to ask ourselves; How do different individuals at the centre experience, interact and respond to sounds; pitch, tone, rhythm, tempo, space and time? How can these observations of personal relationships with sound impact the way in which sounds, notes and music are played to an audience? How does this alter both the experience of the individual playing the sounds as well as the person experiencing those sounds? 

This is the journey we embarked upon, with the musicians endeavouring to discard verbal communication as a way of getting to know someone new and instead leaving musical score behind and improvising with sound, relying on observation and experimentation as the basis for which to play. Over the course of the project we have seen varied and surprising responses emerge from these sessions, each and every session having been conducted with this purpose in mind. Liz Davidson, Manager of Cheery Road commented; ‘Perhaps it’s this very responsive nature that provokes these complex reactions from the individuals. Donald’s response was almost like an interpretive performance, he really appeared to go on a journey with the music’   

For some individuals these sessions have become very interactive, however this has come about on each individuals own terms. The musicians conducted these sessions without expectation or demands from their audience. This appears to have resulted in musical conversations where musicians and individuals participating in the sessions have exchanged sounds in response to each others expressions, actions and movements. These conversations are something that we have seen evolve over the four sessions becoming more elaborate and sophisticated as relationships developed. Staff have also observed positive moods of the individuals involved in the one to one sessions extend beyond the duration of the session. Thus encouraging us to examine these detailed responses and to try to better understand each individuals personal relationship with sound and how this can inform new ways to interact and communicate. Staff and family members have also had the opportunity to see the person they work with, or their loved one, in a new light, witnessing new or unexpected expressions and responses that have the potential to broaden their own understanding. 
This project has only begun to scratch the surface but does highlight the significance of certain moments in these sessions, promoting us to recognise the value in slowing down, observing the detail, sharing what we see and of constantly learning from each other.

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