AYM: August Introductory Residency starts the new academic year at Aldeburgh Young Musicians with a rollercoaster of ideas, creative processes, jams, rehearsals, energy and inspiration. We will look at improvisation and how much it can bring us together through the exploration of different music.
Aldeburgh Young Musicians are delighted to welcome back Tim Steiner, who will be leading the residency alongside six AYM Alumni, all of which have embraced and utilised their experiences at AYM to develop themselves within their chosen areas of music.
Luke Brueck Seeley
What did we explore?
Over the course of the residency, AYMs experienced many different types of music; ranging from complete improvisations, to brass quartets, to some funk grooves. As well as focusing on music in its most fundamental forms, we explored vocational aspects too – how to prepare and thrive in the music industry.
Each of the AYM alumni was able to offer an insight into their professional development as a musician. How had Aldeburgh Young Musicians inspired them as a person and shaped their musical futures?
As part of this, we asked the current cohort to ask the AYM alumni some of their biggest questions, by writing down their questions and anonymously putting them in a box: “University or conservatoire?”, “How to make a living as a musician?”, “What is your strongest musical feature?”, “How do you balance your musical studies with your academic studies?”. We didn’t have a chance to discuss every question, but here are some of the alumni’s responses to some of the most poignant and relevant questions.
Q: How do you look after your physical and mental health (as well as getting everything else done?)
A: It is very easy to forget about one’s body as a musician. Awareness of the body and the physical act of playing an instrument somehow seems a secondary consideration a lot of the time. I discovered this to my own cost about a year ago when I started experiencing some problems with my wrist playing the piano, and since have really made an effort to look after myself. I couldn’t really play the piano for about three months at a very inconvenient time in my final year of university in which I was due to do a lot of performing. My particular injury was the result of a technical deficiency in my playing and a general ignorance about how to use my arms and wrists in a sustainable way at the piano. My main advice to anyone would simply be to have these discussions with teachers and avoid going years without even thinking about how you use your body when playing like I did! Experiencing pain and discomfort when playing is quite traumatic for musicians since we dedicate so much time and emotional energy into making music, so I would really encourage you to have open discussions with teachers and other musicians about looking after your body.
As for mental health, I would simply stress having faith in your friends and family as confidants. Know that if someone fails to listen it is their problem not yours, and that open communication, however hard that may be, is the only first step to feeling better.
Q: How do you approach performing material that is out of your comfort zone?
A: AYM is the best place to learn that comfort zones need not be an issue. In my mind, ‘comfort zone’ is synonymous simply with ‘experience’. If you look at it in this way, then the best way to branch out of your comfort zone is to recognise that the more you repeat an experience the more comfortable it becomes. AYM will inevitably challenge your comfort zone by pushing your musicianship in all directions, and it’s up to you whether you embrace it or not. Take inspiration from other AYMs and tutors for whom the material is second-nature, and know that AYM is the safest and most tolerant environment for you to take risks. You only have to step out of AYM briefly to see how small and concrete some other musicians’ comfort zones are!
Q: When you first heard about/joined AYM, did you feel certain that it was the right thing for you or were you not sure?
A: I think there was inevitably a bit of doubt at first, particularly because the courses do not miraculously become tailored to your exact needs as soon as you join. Depending on your background, some of the challenges you meet at AYM may seem insurmountable or simply just not worth taking up, but I cannot stress enough the value of having an open attitude to the music you discover at AYM. You might not leave a course on Indian music or opera with a newfound love for the music per se, nor should you. But you should leave with new insights and new understandings of music that are genuinely invaluable and can feed into your own musical interests in ways that may not seem obvious. I don’t love improvising classical Rondos or Gavottes, as we did on a course with trio Prima Volta a long time ago, but the lessons learned there about improvising with restricted material and fixed forms are applicable to my own music-making in so many ways. I wasn’t joking when I said that AYM gives you a musical third eye!
Our Spotify playlist
Click here to access this week's Spotify playlist
After being inspired by such a vibrant and diverse range of music throughout the residency, one of the last exercises was to try and encapsulate everyone’s musical tastes in a Spotify playlist. Each participant was asked to contribute one work to the playlist; this is what we achieved:
About the artists
Tim Steiner is a composer and conductor with a specialty in devised and collaborative performance. He has directed hundreds of creative projects throughout Europe and has worked in virtually every conceivable musical and social context. His work ranges from small-scale devised work to large-scale multi-layered works involving massed groups of professionals, amateurs and beginners.
He was the artistic director of Europe’s Day in Valletta, Malta Directing a 300 piece all-comer’s citizen’s orchestra as part of Malta’s hosting of the European Presidency. He worked with the City of Bragança in Portugal developing Orquestra Fervença, an ongoing mass ensemble drawing together citizen’s from throughout the region. He has worked closely with the Philharmonia Orchestra since 1994 leading projects as diverse as massed bassoon workshops, prison projects, and Pop-up Orchestral Concerts. TIm is the director or Strokestra, the RPOs partnership with Stroke Rehab service in Hull, and works alongside the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra developing work with people with dementia and their carers.
In 2018, Tim co-led AYM @ Ten, a week celebrating 10 years of Aldeburgh Young Musicians.
Ciaran Corr is a tutor, session musician and creative collaborator based in South London. His professional work and association with the new London Jazz scene has afforded him a wide variety of performance opportunities such as at Red Bull Music, BBC Radio 1, 6Music, Love Supreme Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, London Jazz Festival and many others both in the UK and abroad. His own groups include Cesca, an electronic jazz-trio with previous AYMs Sam Jones and Alex Wilson, and Sudo, a newfound space-prog/pseudo-jazz outfit (@sudo_music). He also tours with the London-based Nigerian vocalist Obongjayar on guitar, keys and electronics. Ciaran also composes and produces music through creative programming and is currently working on a suite for Yamaha Disklavier which explores the relationships between digital and acoustic paradigms of sound-design and musical interaction. He has a 1st Class BMus Music degree from Goldsmiths University and an active interest in music academia and philosophy, particularly the work of Mark Fisher and Boudrillard, which seeps in to his everyday life and his musical practice.
Georgia Dawson (originally from Ipswich, Suffolk) is in her final year of studying the French Horn at the Royal College of Music with Nigel Black, Simon Rayner and John Ryan. Through the RCM Georgia has been privileged enough to perform under the baton of Bernard Haitink and in ensembles led by Mike Lovett and Stefan Dohr, among many other fantastic projects. Georgia has played in multiple venues around London as an orchestral performer (including the Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall and St John Smith Square) and also has a passion for chamber music. Most notably, she is a founding member of Cor8 – a dynamic, all female French Horn Octet. She has also performed regularly as a member of wind quintets (including a performance of Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles at the Southbank Centre) and enjoys exploring vocal work, improvisation and cross-specialism artistic collaboration. Particularly, Georgia has been involved in multiple projects working with LoLa technology to collaborate with artists overseas. She is an experienced and enthusiastic educator working regularly as a private teacher, orchestral mentor and freelance workshop leader both in London and around the UK. Specifically, she has worked for the past three years at the Royal College of Music’s Junior Department with the Sparks Juniors Programme as well as working for the Tri-borough Music Hub.
Evie Hilyer-Ziegler is a violinist/violist and cross-discipline musician based in London. She graduated from Goldsmiths in 2018, and while there developed a deeper interest in contemporary music and improvisation. Her academic research focuses primarily on female practitioners in contemporary opera and performance art, and female composers who have written for string instruments. Evie has performed in a range of venues across London, such as Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, Buckingham Palace, Cafe OTO, Indigo o2 and Rich Mix. Session work has taken her to Abbey Road, Maida Vale, Konk Studios, and seen her perform on Later…with Jools Holland. A keen collaborator, Evie works with many different artists and bands, and writes/arranges for film, radio and theatre. She is currently developing new material with her piano trio, Fen, who mix together jazz, minimalism, electronics, improvisation, and also perform classical recitals. Evie is kindly supported by the Michael Badminton Young Musicians Trust.
James Seabrook began playing the tuba aged 12, and has been taught by Oren Marshall, Ewan Easton, Les Neish and Brian Kingsley. Now 26, after taking a few years out of music, he is about to enter his final year of undergraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. During his time at Manchester, James has played with various different ensembles, including a performance in March 2019 of Janáček’s opera ‘Katya Kabanova‘ with Opera North after successfully auditioning for their Professional Experience Scheme. He has also had the opportunity to be involved with some amazing projects, such as recording the soundtrack for the ‘Incredibles 2: Lego Game’, and working with researcher and composed Alec De Little on an improvisation called ‘Spatial Drone 3’ for tuba and synthesiser, experimenting with resonant frequencies of buildings.
Georgia Turner is a guitarist, songwriter and composer from North London. She began taking part in projects with the Barbican and Guildhall School aged 8 when she joined Future Band and went on to become a member of Aldeburgh Young Musicians in 2013. She now writes and records her own music as well as collaborating with other musicians, most recently in contemporary music duo Solmonath. Georgia’s debut EP ‘Nina’, released in 2018, is characterised by her ‘subtly intense’ writing and features a band made up of fellow AYM alumni. As a keen visual artist, she often creates graphic scores and illustrations that capture characters and stories from her songs.
Georgia works extensively as an educator and workshop leader across London: teaching guitar and percussion in primary schools and music lessons in reception classes and nurseries, leading specialist music classes for 0-5 year olds and delivering songwriting workshops. She is also an assistant tutor for Drum Works and plays in the organisation’s senior performance band Drum Heads.
In September 2019 Georgia will begin studying composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Alex Wilson is a pianist from Cambridge with extremely diverse musical interests. His first musical experiences were with classical piano at an early age and he has since enjoyed a great range of performances in this capacity. Recently, he was invited to participate in masterclasses with Steven Isserlis, Yo Yo Ma, and the Villiers Quartet among others, and has given several piano trio recitals performing works by Ravel and Shostakovich. Alex also has a passion for jazz and improvised music and with his group Cesca has performed at several leading festivals and events including London Jazz Festival, Love Supreme Festival, and Ronnie Scott’s. Currently, his main interests include electronic music, the music of La Monte Young (which informed his undergraduate dissertation), and various world musics. Alex recently graduated with a degree in music from Oxford University, where he was a Casperd Scholar, and next year hopes to pursue studying jazz in a Masters programme in London. He is hugely grateful for the breadth of musical experience that AYM afforded him and is very excited to be back in Snape.
Find out more | Key contact
Matt Wigley – Producer, AYM