Hi, I’m Sophie, I’m a student studying music at Plymouth University. Through the Knowledge Exchange I have had the chance to join in ‘Moving Sounds’, a Plymouth Music Zone music and movement workshop which is currently taking place over zoom. It is for neurodiverse adults.

How are you?

That’s the question asked at the start of every Moving Sounds workshop. It felt a bit surreal to me to begin with because it’s so different to the style of sessions and rehearsals that I am used to.

Having come from a classical background, I am used to having very structured and formal rehearsals. In these rehearsals, we would have a set time that we would have to have the rehearsal room ready for, instruments warmed up, and ready for the down beat (the start of the rehearsal). In these rehearsals, we couldn’t talk during the rehearsal in order to make them time efficient and organised. Instead, we were only allowed to have conversations during the designated break times. While this way of rehearsing means that all rehearsals are time efficient, it does however create a less personal experience in a more disciplined setting.

It was so different to the style of sessions and rehearsals that I am used to as a classical musician. Moving Sounds is so relaxed and welcoming. This creates such a personal session for everyone and means that everyone gets to know one and brings everyone together. Every Moving Sounds session begins with us participants being asked ‘How are you?’ by talking about how we each are and the things that we have been up to that week. Nothing is rushed. It gives each member time to talk about their week and how they are feeling in a non-pressured environment. This is not something that I have been used to within a rehearsal situation.

Each participant holding up their drawingOne of the sessions that will always stick with me was when we had to listen to a piece of music and then draw what it made us feel or think about. Once the song was over, we would each hold up the drawing that we had done to show everyone our artwork. I found it amazing to see the way that each of us had our own interpretations to the music. There was such a range of amazing drawings! While I drew some birds flying in the sky with the sun shining bright in the corner, others drew swirls and different shapes in different colours to represent the feelings that they felt while they were listening to the music. A moment that felt very special to me in this session was when one participant, who is often quite reserved in showing his emotions, held up the dinosaur that he had drawn, and we could all see him smiling as he showed us his drawing.

When I am playing in a band, all of us are trying to portray an emotion to the audience. I have always enjoyed playing the notes in front of me, but we have always been told how the music should sound and the feeling that we are trying to portray to the audience. Never before have I taken the time to ask myself how I am feeling when I am playing music. At Moving Sounds, this was the first time that I had freely expressed how I was feeling about music we were listening to within a group setting. It was so liberating to be able to draw exactly what I was feeling and how I interpreted the music.

Having come from an area of music where we strive to have the music as perfect as we possibly can, it has been a breath of fresh air not having to worry about the music being absolutely perfect. When participants of ‘Moving Sounds’ were asked if they had enjoyed the online sessions due to the lockdown measures in place, they responded saying ‘I like seeing my friends every Thursday’ and that they enjoy having a creative space to make music. The participants are so upbeat and always put a smile on my face which lasts long after the session is over for the day. 


You can read another of Sophie’s blog posts here: Finding Joy Making Music in a Pandemic.