Newcastle upon Tyne

Your story

Amateur music group perform classical concerts in care homes.

Group introduction

Semitones consists of amateur musicians, of all ages and abilities, who enjoy playing music together and who would like to share this music with people in care homes who can not normally get out to listen to live music. We usually play a collection of classical and popular music, including film music. We play every weekend, usually two weekends a month rehearsing and two performing. All our performances are free and all of us play for free, only our conductor is paid. The group receives money to pay for our conductor and buy sheet music through donations and applying for small grants.

We were established in 2009 and now consist of approximately 25 musicians, most of whom have been playing with Semitones for 5 years or more. We share the organisation of Semitones between ourselves. We play approximately 25 concerts a year, usually there are 15-25 elderly people in the audience as well as staff and family members. We perform to about 500 elderly people each year.

We are committed to ensuring that our concerts are appropriate for our audience. Therefore two years ago we applied for a grant to employ a music therapist to help us more appropriately engage with our audiences. Last year we obtained another grant to work closely with a small number of homes, identifying exactly what residents wanted from us. Following these pieces of work, we now hand out percussion instruments to our audiences, we have introduced more Geordie songs and include more joint singing. We are currently looking at introducing more music from the 50s and 60s into our repertoire as we recognise that there are more people in our audiences who are in their 60s and 70s, possibly with young-onset dementia.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We would like to purchase four masterclasses for ourselves: in rhythm, singing, strings and woodwind. We believe that these would improve our technical and musical performance in concerts and our audiences would enjoy them more.

Some of our group are fairly talented musicians, some are not, some have played for many years, some are fairly inexperienced as they are young or have only just picked up their instrument as an adult. Masterclasses bring musicians of all abilities together, thereby improving the performance of the whole group. This would benefit us as well as all of our future audiences.

When musicians play, rhythm is vital. Some would argue that rhythm is what keeps music going, keeps musicians together, and that without rhythm there is no music. In the past we received a rhythm workshop masterclass. This helped us listen to each other more and appreciate the music of each other.

We have introduced singing into our performances in care homes. None of us are singers and none of us have received singing tuition. We would benefit from a basic introduction to singing.

String and woodwind
Half of our orchestra plays string instruments and half plays woodwind. Previously we had string and woodwind masterclasses. These were enjoyed immensely by group members as they were a chance to more closely concentrate on a particular musical piece, rather than having to quickly go through all the necessary pieces for the next concert. We were able to work more closely with group members playing instruments of the same family.

"Thank you all, once again for performing so wonderfully for us yesterday afternoon. What talent! We really do appreciate you sharing it with us and helping to make the event even more special. With very best wishes from Lesley and the All Saints Church team"

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