Baton Beats is PMZ’s weekly percussion workshop, led by music leader Rob Tilsley.  Throughout 2023, Rob was joined by University of Plymouth music student, Millie McCabe, as part of PMZ and the Uni’s ‘Knowledge Exchange‘ programme.  Here is the first of four blogs shared by Millie, sharing her experience of working with PMZ.

Hello! I’m Millie and I am a second year Music student at the University of Plymouth. Primarily I am a classically trained wind musician, principally playing the clarinet, however I love picking up and playing every instrument that I can and playing with more people. A fun fact about me is that I love to talk, chatting with people is one of my favourite things, so combine that alongside making music with other people, I am super happy.

Although the music making is at the heart of Baton Beats, the social opportunity for the participants is equally as important. Before any music making can begin, everyone has a chance to share something that they have done in the week or planned for the upcoming week. From having a steak dinner and going shopping at Aldi to travelling to Scotland or watching a new animal being born at the zoo, everything is just as exciting as another, and all these emotions are later translated into their playing.

It is vital for the group to have this social opportunity before they start playing for a number of reasons. For those who are new to the session it gives them a period of warming up to ease them into the group and allow them to feel comfortable and relaxed. It gives everyone else a chance to talk and let loose and have a bit of a laugh, getting lots of energy out of their systems. And most importantly it brings everyone together to share and listen to some positivity before they start the music making.

Many of the participants, and the people in their lives will tell you how much they love coming to PMZ and taking part in Baton Beats each week. If that wasn’t enough to spark energy and passion on a Monday evening, their overall positive attitudes and happy smiling faces will do the trick. This talk circle at the beginning of the night leads onto meaningful conversations from everyone in the coffee break and at the end of the session. Some weeks it seems as though there has been more talking than playing, but I promise that there is always some music made too!

I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to join Baton Beats. The positive outcomes to coming along to this session have also impacted my daily life. I start the week on an uplifting note (literally), while I get to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the world to be with people who are just happy to be creating music together.