From 2008 to 2011 I worked closely with Robert Wells at Guildhall Connect producing one-off music education projects in East London schools. Rob was very good at spotting funding opportunities and conceiving projects to fit the criteria.
Guildhall Connect was a sub-department in the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (which has now merged with the Barbican's Creative Learning department). Its philosophy was to break down the metaphorical barrier around the conservatoire and extend music learning in creative and relevant ways into the community.
They ran (and still run) innovative post-grad courses in music leadership and we used many of its students to lead our projects - they had a natural rapport with school kids and incredible skill at developing young people's musical ideas and focus in a group context.
Workshops involved students of all ages, abilities and experience and invariably led to astonishing outcomes - original compositions, collaborations between students, the unexpected development of confidence, skill, ideas and creativity.
Projects such as Dynamic Changes involved a term of workshops with primary-level groups across ten schools, leading to performances at the Round Chapel in Hackney. For iD we worked with a small group which included looked-after young people, running collaborative workshops and a residency for them, and getting them to lead sessions themselves in their respective schools. Ready Steady Blow was a big performance in the Barbican main hall showcasing all the ensembles and school projects Guildhall Connect were running.
I loved working with the Guildhall Connect team and their post-grads. Their approach resonated strongly with my own feelings about, and experience of, music making and it was gratifying to see how much the students gained from it.