Music, Pedagogy and Community – 5 March

On 5 March 2016 Maggie Nicols and I are doing a joint performance at the Music, Pedagogy and Community conference in Cardiff. You can buy tickets here.

Our performance is called Practices of Freedom / Healing (Gendered) Wounds.

Below is some writing I may use within the performance. Maggie will also present some of her teaching techniques.

The text is inspired by the year I spent living with Maggie at beautiful Melin Dolwion.


During group improvisations or ‘gatherings’ I learn gesture is contribution. A stroke of the piano key. Opening my lungs, vocal chords and mouth and trusting what comes out. The arc of an arm.

This is what Maggie calls the Challenge of Simplicity. How hard it is to do the most simplest of things!

Over several months I repeat activities, yet always with a difference, I learn the spirit of infinite generosity that can be found in the commitment to practicing listening and responding to the environment.

Improvisation, in this social sense, is a community practice to be shared with others: human, non-human, technical, mineral. Piano/ human. Five humans, a drum. The rushing of the stream, squawking crows and the tinkering of the water tank.

Of course practices are rarely perfect. It is their nature to be incomplete, unfinished, messy.

Yet there is nothing outside the practice, no grand ideology or scheme, no moral code. I’ve been stung by ideas before. The practice – the technique – is a metronome that keeps time, irregularly, always working into the edge of the unexpected.

This social practice of improvisation is radically attentive to the here and now.

It draws those participating within the social activity. It helps people remember and discover their own rhythms, acting at the fulcrum between invention and archive.

It engenders an alternative world where we can try again to do anything, folded between contours of care, humility and love.

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