by Richie Littler director de Grooves School fom London – sent by José Antonio Sierra (JAS)
19DIC19 – LONDON – U.K.- Grooveschool is a not for profit organisation that run projects focussed towards nurturing young people's engagement, creativity and invention. Once all costs are covered we put any profit back in to the company to invest in the education of future musicians.
The main activity we provide is DJ and Music Technology workshops. We do this for all ages and abilities and provide group workshops, modular specific classes and one-2-one sessions. We endeavour to work with individuals on their own learning paths whatever their entry level may be.
Just over ten years ago I was working in a record shop, taking care of the online shop. At the time a tragic episode happened in my life of which I experienced first hand the reality that life is too short. Although a numb period immediately followed what came out of that period was a passion to not waste another day, to feel like if and when I was coming home in the evening that I’d earned it, that I’d tried to make a difference.
I began to explore the world of teaching and a little while after a friend suggested to run a DJ class at a school. So in July 2010 I took the vinyl turntables and ran a short introduction for ten 14-15 year old boys at a school in Streatham, south London. There was a suggestion the skills to DJ could be brought in as an alternative to the instrument section of the GCSE exam so i drafted a course as part of the schools curricula but the opportunity never developed. This got my brain ticking over however and whilst I experienced some agency work around schools I began to develop a business plan, the initial intention being to off as service bridging the gap between music teachers and technology within school. After that initial experience i delved into the shortcomings of the education system. The issues preventing the subject being taught in schools, are in many ways still there now, if not more so.
My first intention as far as being self-employed was to offer a service bridging the gap between music teachers, the pupils and ICT within schools. In both the schools i have ran DJ workshop sessions in there has been evidence this exists. At St.Marks they had classroom walls covered with posters of Samplers, Sequencers and Synthesizers. When i asked the pupils if the kit featured on the posters they informed me that they have them but they don't use them. On asking the music tutor about a package to include basic Music Technology ie. to go from DJing to creating music via sequencer packages he explained that he had them at home but didn't have time to use them. This i assumed would be the same attitude throughout the education system. Many teachers in schools are lacking in confidence and practical experience of using music production technology and often avoid this area due to the need for further training in the use of such software and time involved in running such projects.
This is taken from the Musical Futures document titled "Personalising Musc Learning In Your School"
"Many music teachers are reluctant to use ICT extensively in their teaching. It may be for a number of reasons: lack of confidence in their own ICT capabilities; fear that their students know more than they do; lack of awareness of the potential benefits of using ICT; concerns that technology-based music may take over from more traditional approaches; and insufficient funding for equipment and technical support . Or that the pressures of having to deliver a broader music curriculum, and the ever-increasing assessment and reporting demands, mean that there is simply not enough time to address ICT issues effectively."
At the time i was developing the idea of Grooveschool I was sound engineering bands and it was at one of the gigs that I got chatting with someone who was the workshop co-ordinator of a local charity. She invited me to a meeting and it was at this meeting I was offered use of a space if I ran a free workshop. Grooveschool had it’s first session in February 2011 at the stables community centre in Streatham as part of Music4Childrens free creative education programme. Soon after I had a team of volunteers and we ran free sessions from there each and every week. Every bank holiday we would have a fundraising party and collect enough to buy an ipad or a new piece of kit and over the next couple of years we got a little bit of funding to buy all the equipment we needed to host up to 8 in a class.
In May 2012 my colleague and I took part in the Worlds Highest Gig as part of the Music4Children team Djing and performing at the summit of Mera Peak in the Himalaya, at an altitude of 6.500 metres. The money we raised during that trip helped complete the building of our orphanage out there which currently houses, feeds and educates 18 girls.
When did we move in to Pop Brixton
In August 2017 we moved in to our unit at Pop Brixton. Explain what Pop is? For the year or so before we had run trail sessions once a week and also during half term breaks etc explain what they were and our young people had performed at various local events. Including collaborations with other youth organisations and schools within lambeth In March 2016 Grooveschool had headlined the Brixton branch of the Lambeth Music Festival.
Why - In Brixton
The decision behind making the move was that we would have a permanent space from which we could work with more people, especially the young community of which we would be in the heart of Brixton. The aim's were that we would have a permanent space in the heart of this vibrant community. To be taken more seriously, have a focal point to invite people in to see what we do and to further the organisations progress. Brixton has it's own allure, it’s own beat, tempo and rhythm, a unique multi cultural society.
Now here we are running 3 core after school groups a week and one at the weekend. Having a focal point has helped in with collaborations, it's a great place to meet people. We run adult classes and mini courses covering all aspect of music production and STEAM. In the not too distant future we have mini projects coming up, female orientated DJ and ensemble. The possibility of working with Ronnie Scotts charitable foundation and we are looking forward to hosting our own marquee during the lambeth country show once more this year.
The young people we have coming are from a host of different backgrounds, their heritage far and wide, differing learning abilites but all enjoying the activity, making friends and creating.
6 years on from the original plan the GCSE Music Exam now incorporate’s DJ solo and ensemble as the performance section. And so were looking forward to an increase in interest as schools get used to the idea, policy changes and the kids become aware that they can do this modern music activity now.
If there’s anybody out there interested in learning or working with us by all means get in touch [email protected]
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