Composed by Stephen Deazley and featuring renowned (and Bedfordshire local!) percussionist Joby Burgess, PUNKIT was commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts and developed in partnership with Love Music for young people. Its creation was driven by the vision to provide an entirely accessible experience that would inspire musical curiosity, teach new skills and broaden musical horizons… and knock Bedford’s socks off by making lots of noise.
PUNKIT was designed to be a bold and explosive participatory music work for massed percussion and was performed by 93 Year 7 students from Harrold Priory Middle School on March 23rd 2016 to an audience of 200 people at the Bedford Corn Exchange.
At the start of the programme, Youth Participation Producer, Kayte Judge was tasked with recruiting a large number of young people… enter Harrold Priory Middle School whose innovative style matched that of the project. Working with music teacher Matt Rees, PUNKIT was embedded into the Year 7 music curriculum.
This 10-week rehearsal process began with Stephen and Joby making a visit to the school to share the exciting percussion techniques using both instruments and body parts. With this stunning start the techniques could then be practiced and perfected by the students led by Matt during their normal music lessons using online PunkIt resources.
For some students the key to becoming wholly enrolled in PunkIt was taking part in a carousel of hands-on, unique and artistic workshops. Led by illustrator Katie Allen and graffiti artist Jason Cool the students used punk style collage and typography, combined with graffiti to create their own colourful ‘punked-up’ box to be played (and destroyed) on the night. With Stephen and Joby also delivering the next steps, Punkit was starting to take shape.
At the end of the 10-week process, Joby and Stephen delivered a two-day intensive workshop preparing our young music-makers to hit the stage.
The morning of the performance started with Kayte ramming assistant producer Elly and 40 drums – kindly leant by Bedford Music Hub – into her car as she headed to Bedford Corn Exchange. The team met two coach loads of excited punk styled young people and guided them into their huge performance space which resulted in many awe-induced “oohs.”
As the seats filled, Stephen welcomed the audience of friends, family and supporters and praised the commitment of our Punkit percussionists.
Grinning, the students smashed out the first beat… what followed was a noisy spectacular that had the audience on their feet clapping their hands and pounding their chests as they mimicked Stephens body percussion instructions.
The hour long performance culminated in the playful destruction of the 90 boxes in synchronised musical bashing… any shyness had disappeared and a sense of achievement radiated off the stage, electrifying the audience.
That’s a Wrap
The project’s success can been seen by its performances in Birmingham, Ireland and Scotland. Love Music makes work that inspires people to be curious, creative and adventurous with music regardless of their skill base or background. This matches our values of Engage / Include / Inspire and together we have created something that the young performers, audience and teachers will remember forever, which for us in the true success of the project.
Paul Wildman, Assistant Head Teacher, Director of Arts, Lincroft School said of the project “… Last night was wonderful and opened up the possibilities of what can be achieved with a sense of teamwork and good will. I would love to see more of the same – please let me know what we can do to make sure this kind of event becomes embedded in all of our local schools…”
The project succeeded in making links with schools, cultural providers and national organisations allowing them to work together.
Kayte, our Youth Participation Producer explained what made the project so special. “…It was an amazing night and I wanted to personally thank you for your efforts, contributions & the sheer amount of professional trust and support that was given to one another. It felt like a genuine collaboration on many levels…
An absolute pleasure to work with all of you and what a joy to see those fantastic young people rise to the occasion. This is the stuff of memories!”
Commissioned and produced by Bedford Creative Arts