Surrey Music and Arts Summer Holiday Activities 2020

Surrey Arts have put together their largest ever programme of summer holiday activities for art and music. There are fantastic opportunities to see instruments played for the first time, hear and play music from all over the world, join in percussion sessions with materials found around the home, have free taster sessions in piano and singing, join a guitar band, make a DJ mix on your computer, join in with the UP! Orchestra and much much more.

Have a look at the SMASH activities programme 2020

Celebrate the talents and contributions of displaced and diverse communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped everyone in their tracks. As a society, we have been learning to reassess how we connect with one another and the things that are important to us, as well as exploring new ways to be creative at home. Surrey based Community Orchestra, I Speak Music (ISM), normally meet regularly to provide a musical platform for people from diverse backgrounds to come together to make music. During the last few months, they have been unable to rehearse and, like countless arts organisations, have had to cancel events, including their concert as part of World Refugee Week. Thankfully, the ISM team have developed and implemented a digital music project to ensure their members are still able to connect and create music together.

Jim Pinchen, ISM Project Manager said “We met the ISM members online and who told us that they wanted to do something to say thank you and to recognize the hard work and sacrifice to those on the frontline for keeping things running and keeping us safe during the crisis.” 

Over a series of online workshops ISM were supported to contribute musical ideas and lyrics, which Jim, together with ISM music leaders Raghad Haddad and songwriter Liz Ikamba, developed into a new song.  The song places special attention on the dedication and sacrifice of BAME and migrant workers and was also inspired by the theme of this year’s World Refugee Week, IMAGINE.

 “The main thing we wanted to reflect in the music was the diversity of those involved” said Raghad, “it was important that the music showcased many styles, representing many areas and countries and included the different languages of the people performing it and who they were saying thank you to.” Raghad’s brother, who leads a children’s choir in Syria, was keen for their voices to join with his sister’s and the rest of ISM; giving them an opportunity to sing in Arabic alongside friends and family who are living in the UK and other parts of the world.

Participants were invited to join online rehearsals via Zoom where they discussed what they imagined our world would look like in the future and where they could offer lyrical ideas for the song. “We sent out links to the music, some technical parts for the more experienced musicians as well as simpler elements to ensure it was as accessible as possible” says Jim and adds “there was a lot of support given where needed from the ISM team to help guide participants on how to film themselves and upload their footage. We are thrilled that so many people took part; we have 36 clips from Syria alone that I’ve edited into a four-minute video.”


Feedback from ISM members has been incredibly positive, one member when asked what they liked most about being involved  said “Being creative and collaborative. It’s always a great experience working with ISM. There is such a variety of musical influences and camaraderie.”

So, what is next for the song Imagine, Imagine? I Speak Music Orchestra have joined forces with London based company Together Productions to deliver phase two of the project. Creative Producer, Holly Jones said “We’re a community interest company who produce arts projects with a positive social impact  so when Jim mentioned that ISM were doing this project we were keen to help take it to the next level. Working with our international partners, such as Musicians Without Borders and the International Organization for Migration, will help  people access the technology that they need.”


This ambitious next phase for the project has already attracted much interest and award-winning filmmaker and photographer, Leslie Knott, has joined the team along with Ben Gregor, acclaimed TV, Film and Music Video Director. The experienced team aim to create a powerful and engaging music video, unlike any seen during the lockdown, to be released later in the year.

Holly says “We’ve got this brilliant song that’s been composed and the idea is that on World Refugee Day we will send it out into the world and invite people, wherever they are, to film themselves joining in with the song, either singing the chorus or playing some of the percussion parts or dancing. Imagine: Imagine  will encourage audiences to look beyond their neighbourhoods to the global community, to collaborate creatively together and to consider the voices and lives of those forcibly displaced and seeking a home.”

The IMAGINE: IMAGINE project is going live on Saturday 20 June 2020, to get involved visit http://www.imagineimagine.org

I Speak Music Community Orchestra is supported by Surrey Arts and Surrey Music Hub and is funded by Arts Council England.

If you are interested in finding out more about the I Speak Music and related activities email mona4youthmusic@gmail.com

Making music safely in schools – Updated 10 July

Music is a fantastic way to bring our children together: it builds self-esteem and confidence, and these are now, even more than ever, important when we are in such strange times. We know that school staff are working incredibly hard to keep their schools and classrooms safe for everyone, so we have gathered together Health and Safety advice from Surrey County Council’s public health department and from Music Mark (the organisation that links Music Hubs together) that relates most to music making in schools, so that schools can keep making music safely.

Surrey Public Health team have picked up the following general points as being most relevant to music teaching:

The relevant guidance is “implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings” – updated 1 June – and key points relevant to music lessons are:

Practising self and household isolation for anyone symptomatic/living with someone who is unwell, respectively:

  • Hand hygiene – regular hand-washing for 20 seconds or more with soap and water
  • Respiratory hygiene – catch it, bin it, kill it
  • Regular environment cleaning, especially of frequently touched surfaces
  • Minimising contact and mixing by keeping groups of children together in “bubbles”
  • Maintaining 2m distance between people, wherever possible
  • Ventilating rooms, naturally where possible
  • Limiting the use of shared resources
  • Cleaning equipment between groups using it

Music Mark have given specific advice for singing:

For most singing activity, including class work and assemblies, normal social distancing will suffice. Whilst singing releases potentially hazardous bioaerosols in proportion to volume – the louder the singing, the more aerosols are released (this is also the case when talking loudly or breathing more heavily) – measurements taken with university-level students and professionals suggest that there is minimal air movement much over 0.5m from a singer.

There have been reports of choirs falling ill en masse but it is worth stating that these occurred before social distancing and entailed several hours of singing in close company. Assemblies, singing lessons and even lunchtime choirs do not last anything like as long.

  • Space: A well-ventilated room, large enough to maintain the usual 2m social distancing guideline, will usually suffice. Note that the area of the room is critical here: a higher ceiling does not mean singers are safe to stand closer together. 
  • Consider singing outdoors if you can. The risk of airborne transmission is thought to be significantly lower in the open air but be aware of wind direction for both the singers and the leader.
  • There are no safe face coverings for singing: all fabric masks leak air and bioaerosols around the sides and bottom.
  • The person leading the singing and the accompanist, if any, should be 3-5m from the front row as they will of course be facing the singers. They may want to consider a plexiglass screen.
  • Each singer should have their own music and should ideally keep it between rehearsals. If words or music are projected, that is ideal.

Music Mark have also developed specific guidance for schools:

More detailed responses with regards to singing and the usage and cleaning of instruments can be found in the following documents:

Surrey Arts launch Online Instrumental Lessons!

Surrey Arts is excited to launch a new Online Learning Programme offering high quality instrumental lessons from the comfort of your home! Over the past few weeks we have been busy trialling online teaching, and establishing safeguarding protocols and technical guidance to ensure we are able to offer the same high quality learning experience that our students receive through face-to-face lessons. 

We are pleased that we are also able to support our more vulnerable young people through our inclusion programme, offering free lessons to groups such as looked after children, young carers and unaccompanied refugees.

Sarah Lee, Head of Service, said ‘This has been an amazing effort by the Surrey Arts team. To be able to put together a programme at such an uncertain time and develop a programme that ensures high quality and a safe learning environment for students is fantastic. We all know the power that music can have on our lives, and engaging in creativity during this time can really help with health and well-being. We hope that our online learning programme will be a valuable service for the Surrey community encouraging people to continue making music and engaging in arts activities.’

At present the Surrey Arts Online Learning (SAOL) programme is only available for existing Surrey Artsstudents: however, we hope to grow this further in the coming weeks, providing more ways in which to support musical learning.

Together with our Online Learning Programme we have also created an extensive online resource page with lots of videos, activities, online music performances and much more!

Finally, the visual arts team have worked with Surrey Artists Open Studios and Surrey Hills Arts to provide a range of online art workshops for artists of all abilities and ages. SAOS artists have also provided online tours of their studios and have been part of the Sketchbook Challenge where they have shared their sketchbook works.

These are unique times and it is great to see so many talented people working together to ensure learning and creativity continues in Surrey!

Guildford Jazz Festival 2020

Guildford Jazz Festival 2020 Flyer

Guildford Jazz ‘s  three day music festival runs from March 20-22 at Guildford’s Electric Theatre and features a wide spectrum of jazz, funk and latin grooves. 

The festival opens on Friday 20th March with a celebration of local young jazz talent  and a concert by Surrey Young Jazz Musicians of the Year.  Tickets for this event are only £8 for adults and free for young people aged 16 or under.  

The festival is a first for Guildford Jazz,  which has been arranging regular sell out monthly jazz gigs since 2011 . Its founder,  local bass player Marianne Windham comments: ”The festival represents a celebration of all that Guildford Jazz is about: bringing the finest UK jazz musicians to Guildford to play a wide spectrum of accessible music in a friendly club  like atmosphere. There is something for everyone in the programme whether you are just looking for great live music or are a committed jazzer”.  

All profits from the festival go to local charity Guildford Philanthropy which helps local residents disadvantaged by disability, mental health issues, poor education or caring responsibilities. 

The festival represents an excellent opportunity to inspire young people to develop their musical talents by experiencing the finest live jazz.  

Headlining the festival will be ECM recording artist and internationally recognised saxophonist and composer Iain Ballamy. 

Other major artists  appearing at JazzFest ’20 include: 

  • The renowned trombonist Dennis Rollins and his Velocity Trio: a  simmering jazz, funk and world music roller coaster 
  • The Mark Nightingale/Alan Barnes/Steve Waterman Sextet playing a tribute to the music of Henry Mancini including Clark Tracey on drums
  • Virtuoso guitarist Nicolas Meier World Group,  one of the rising stars in a vibrant British jazz scene and “an unconditional must for connoisseurs of Jazz-World Fusion” (Adam Baruch)
  • Latin Jazz Salsa band Heads South featuring Steve Waterman, combining Cuban and other Latin Rhythms   
  • Award winning pianist David Newton playing duos alongside jazz impresario Alan Barnes  
  • Renowned jazz vocalist and pianist Pete Churchill 
  • Gareth Williams, one of the country’s leading modern jazz pianists, featuring in both the Sextet and as a live accompanist to the 1929 Buster Keaton classic,  Steamboat Bill Jr.

Alongside sets from leading UK jazz artists,  the festival features: 

  • a talk organised in conjunction with West Surrey Arts Society on the early history of jazz by from broadcaster and bass player Sandy Burnett which might be of particular interest to those doing GCSE music 
  • A New Orleans Dixie Jazz lunch from clarinet maestro Duncan Batchelor and his quartet
  • a number of community events including a jazz vocal workshop 

More details about the festival can be found on the web at  https://guildfordjazz.org.uk/guildford-jazz-fest-20/ 

Booking for individual gigs and day and weekend festival passes  is now open through the Electric Theatre Box Office athttps://electric.theatre/

More information about Guildford Jazz , who run two regular gigs a month featuring national jazz artists at the Electric Theatre and Guildford Rugby Club at Broadwater, can be found at its web site at https://guildfordjazz.org.uk.

I SPEAK MUSIC COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA JOIN HUNDREDS ON STAGE TO COMMEMORATE HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

I speak music - celebrating diversity in Surrey through music

The Surrey based I Speak Music Community Orchestra are thrilled to have been invited to perform at the Singing Our Lives concert at London’s Union Chapel. The iconic venue opens its doors for this special night of music on Sunday 26 January 2020.

This special night of music features hundreds of performers onstage to celebrate the power of uniting with one another through music and song. This evening is the culmination of the ground breaking Singing Our Lives project, which has brought together people from local UK, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds to co-create and perform new music together.

Hosted by Jumoké Fashola, the concert brings together members of the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, the Sing for Freedom Choir, the Mixed up Chorus, the Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus, the Mind & Soul Choir, the Citizens of the World Choir, I Speak Music Community Orchestra, and special guests.

Jim Pinchen, Project Manager of the I Speak Music Community Orchestra said “Singing Our Lives has been an inspirational project for our Orchestra to be part of. It has provided a unique opportunity for local residents and residents who have recently been displaced from their country of birth to share music, food, culture and to form new and lasting friendships. In showcasing our work alongside other groups on 26 January it allows often marginalised voices to be heard as they unite with one another.”

Singing our Lives is performed by Together Productions in partnership with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The International Organization for Migration, the Royal Opera House and Kinetika.

I Speak Music Community Orchestra welcomes people from any background who are aged 14+ to join the group designed to celebrate Surrey’s diverse communities, bringing participants together to take part in creative music workshops and events.

SAVE THE DATE: 3RD APRIL, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HQ, LONDON

I SPEAK MUSIC CONNECTS –  A NETWORKING EVENT FOR PROFESSIONALS

For more information and to book tickets for Singing Our Lives visit – https://www.unionchapel.org.uk/event/26-01-2020-singing-our-lives/

If you are interested in finding out more about the I Speak Music Community Orchestra email mona4youthmusic@gmail.com

I Speak Music is supported by Surrey Arts and Surrey Music Hub and is funded by Arts Council England.

Piano Exam Performance Workshops

This March, Surrey Arts are holding performance workshops for students who are taking piano exams this term.

Students will have the opportunity to play two of their exam pieces to the group as well as evaluate each other’s performances. We’ll be playing various musical games all intended to build confidence when performing, as well as discussing strategies to overcome nerves.

£15 per student
1.00 – 3.00pm
Sunday 1 or 8 March 2020

To book your place please register online.

For further information please contact miriam.hepburn@surreycc.gov.uk

New Partnership Introduces Jazz and Improvisation to Surrey Schools

Surrey Arts and the Cheryl King (Hirst) Trust is delighted to partner with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) in the delivery of an exciting opportunity for schools in the county. NYJO will be visiting around 12 local schools (both primary and secondary) in March 2020, for a series of performances and workshops designed to introduce children and young people to jazz and improvisation, inspire them to take up instruments and grow the confidence of young musicians. In these sessions, NYJO musicians will work with your students to lift the lid on jazz –addressing the fundamentals such as groove, playing by ear and improvisation. In both primaries and secondaries the performance or workshop will be tailored to your group. The workshops are being planned for the week commencing 23 March 2020

  • One half-day afternoon workshop in school led by a NYJO Associate Educator, with vast experience of delivering jazz workshops, supported by five NYJO Ambassadors (young members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra who are receiving training in workshop leading);   
  • NYJO workshops are designed to cater for young musicians across the whole range of technical levels and experience and should enhance musical understanding in general as well as improve specific jazz knowledge. 
  • NYJO will discuss and work with individual schools to tailor a bespoke workshop according to the technical level and experience of the young people taking part;    
  • For up to 30 students.

  • A performance / presentation by the NYJO Associate Educator and the NYJO Ambassadors as a sextet  
  • For large groups (e.g. in the school hall / performance theatre)  
  • These sessions will take the form of an interactive concert, getting the whole class grooving.  
  • The aim is to introduce children to jazz and hopefully inspire them to take up instruments either in primary or secondary school  
  • Primary performances will take place in the morning.
  • Please note : – NYJO visiting musicians can provide all the equipment they require. – There is support from NYJO available if you are developing or setting up an improvising ensemble within your school. 
  • Surrey Arts will work with your school to help ensure that children inspired by NYJO can take up relevant instruments and receive appropriate tuition

  • Provide an enthusiastic audience and suitable group(s) of young musicians to take part. 
  • Provide equipment to enable your young musicians to participate (if applicable). 
  • Pay a modest fee of £ 50 for the primary school performances and
  • £150 for the secondary school workshops   
  • Respond to subsequent evaluation surveys 
  • Signpost participants towards instrument lessons and local jazz activities and educational opportunities

Next steps If you would like to take part, please contact Alex Bondonno by email on alex.bondonno@surreycc.gov.uk before 17 January. Please indicate any times in the week of 23 March that would not work for your school. (but please be as flexible as possible to aid programming) If you would like to take part but cannot make the week of 23 March, We would still like to hear from you.

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