RPO Resound has recently returned from China, where the Director of Community & Education, Workshop Leader Tim Steiner and a team of five RPO musicians delivered a bespoke five-day professional development programme for the staff and players of the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra (SZS). More than 40 members of SZS took part in a series of workshops, seminars and live projects aimed at building their practical knowledge and understanding of how participatory outreach work, education and community engagement activity can augment their concert programme, develop new audiences and support capacity building across the organisation.
A year after Resound hosted SZS education coordinator Yinyun Shi for a month-long internship, the RPO were invited to Suzhou to work with the entire operational and administrative team, and a specially selected group of 22 musicians, from SZS – established only two years ago, and comprised of musicians from across the globe. As well as immersing the participants in a variety of alternative approaches to designing, programming and marketing education work, the RPO introduced them to some key creative learning techniques which we then put into practice in a local community setting. Over the course of an afternoon, the entire training cohort led a mass participatory composition project at the Ren Ai Special School, where a group of more than 100 children and their families, volunteers and school staff created and performed compositions alongside musicians from SZS and the RPO.
Through the responsiveness of the delivery team and SZS management, the humility and generosity of the RPO musicians and the amazing support of the School, the training programme was felt by all participants to have had a positive impact on their understanding and appreciation of learning work and the scope of possibility available to SZS as a provider of community, education and enrichment work. This positivity is best described by some of the participants:
It’s enlightened me as to the possibilities of working with other people in Education Work. We can […] actually make music with other people and compose in the future. Education Assistant
What I found so impressive was how quickly we can bring in non-musicians to make music. I now think I have a better idea of how you can get children involved faster when they have no prior knowledge of music or playing. Violinist
I have learnt that disability does not limit students. Intern
In just a few days, I’ve had access to all these new ideas. This is so helpful for thinking differently about how to advertise our work and engage audiences. Branding Staff
Thank you RPO! So many exciting possibilities have been opened up as a result of this training. It has been an inspiring and fascinating few days. Challenging our staff and players in this way, getting them to interact outside of rehearsals and concerts, and to look at things in different ways has really given us something to work towards. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the RPO in the future, and to developing our own relationships with the local community. Director of Programmes