Monday, 9 January 2012

The Big Blast Band takes off!

This Monday evening saw the lively introductory session for AFC Wimbledon's Big Blast Band! community music project
The AFC Wimbledon Big Blast Band!
book now to avoid disappointment
Aspiring musicians from day centres across the borough of Merton have signed up for a ten week course that we hope will help them develop their confidence and find a new way to have their voices heard.

To help us with this aim AFC Wimbledon are working with the Merton Music Foundation (MMF) charity to provide a musical outlet with a distinctive football theme. Our musicians will be working hard to discover their own particular areas of expertise, whether it be percussion, singing or recording, and they aim to not only to create a master-work of their own, but to perform it live in front of an AFC Wimbledon audience!
Trying to pick out the rhythm
Now this is a daunting challenge for anyone, let alone those attending a day centre, so we are fortunate to be able to call upon the skills and talents of Elisabeth Wigley, Deputy Director of the MMF and a teacher with many years experience of working with learning disabilities. Elisabeth is providing the skills and talents required to meld a collection of talented but erratic individuals into a coherent and tight outfit capable of entertaining a crowd. So watch out Gareth Malone and the Military Wives Choir - there's a new band on the block! 
This first session took place at in the early evening at High Path Daycentre and was an assessment session where Elisabeth was looking to guage the ability levels of the group, many of whom were dressed in their AFC Wimbledon finery (including me). Being able to judge concentration levels, co-ordination and other attributes would enable her to tailor future sessions to individual abilities.  Firstly we practiced tapping out basic beats on a drum, Then we had to tap out alternate beats, then the first/last two beats only.... then when to stop and when to start. Everyone had a go at counting us in to the tune and by the time we stopped for a juice and a cake my head was spinning! Time for a quick break...

We decided to take a team photo of the project group and you might well recognise some of those taking part from the High Path flag-painting group or from their table in the back bar on matchday. High Path visit AFC Wimbledon regularly and always expect to see their flag up and woe betide me if I forget it for some reason. Others in the group were new to the club, but keen to get involved, especially when it came to waving a few yellow and blue flags about. Only Andy had the cheek to wear his Chelsea polo-shirt - even when helping to hold up the High Path flag - and claimed he would be wearing it at every session. We'll see if it lasts the course...
Here's hoping we discover the next Cozy Powell!
After juice and cake the second session of the evening introduced singing, vocal exercises and a drum machine. We'll actually be using a drum kit for live performances that was especially purchased for the project and which the MMF are currently tidying up for us. Here it is before going in for its MOT. If the High Path crew don't make themselves heard with that I'll be very much suprised.

The participants will not be relying just on their performance on the day to get them through though.... part of the project will feature visits to the Crown Lane Recording Studios behind the Tariro Coffee shop in Morden. Here they will have the opportunity to create their own backing tracks and vocals to help them on the big day and they will also be making a souvenir cd single of their song as a lasting reminder of an exceptional experience (we hope!)

Producing this cd single will also provide us with the opportunity to involve others who may not be taking part in the music project, but who want to get involved. For example a cd sleeve design will be required so no doubt there will be an opportunity for artists to become involved as well!  
Ian and Wayne
For the performers having the recording playing alongside them will be an encouragement and a safety net, just in case it all gets a little overwhelming on the day. It's important to ensure that no-one is set up to fail and working with experienced people in this field is cricial.  Many of the flag group still talk about the day their flag was unveiled on the pitch as being a particularly memorable one. It would be great to see if this project can top it!

"What do you mean I'm off the beat?"
We have kindly been granted copyright permission to use the words and music of the iconic "We Are Wimbledon!" anthem and this might well form the backbone of a High Path mashup, so who knows we might be listening to a new and dynamic version in a month or two's time. At least you'll know the words so there'll be no excuse for not joining in!
We'll be providing regular updates as the project develops. If not exactly a fly on the wall documentary at least you'll get to see all the hard work the clients put into the preperation.

Funding for the project has been provided by the Conference Community Development Fund
in association with the Premier League and the Professional Fotballers Association as well as from kind donations from supporters. Many thanks to you all!

Here's a quick exerpt from the first part of the evening. It was a first go on the drums and we were loosening up the wrists and bashing along to the music!

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