I’d always been interested in playing music from a very early age. Primary school clarinet lessons, high school flute lessons then picking up a guitar in my adult years led, unfruitfully into the life of a unmusical musician.
My parents weren’t my greatest audience, and rather than encouraging me to perform – They would encourage me to be quiet, often seeing me grounded when “refusing” to hear them over the squark of my poor embouchure.
By the age of 30, I’d lost all confidence and given up! Even just being near an instrument in the company of a ‘musician’ dried my mouth and scared the hell out of me. I’d tried so hard and failed!
That is until I embarked on The Charlie Bramley un-Musical Project:
Transcript of Charlie Bramley – Portfolio of Practice-Led Researchun-Musical activism
PhD practice-led research. I recruited 4 core participants who identified themselves as ‘non-musicians’. I then worked with them on what their objectives were, and we worked through a series of music-making workshops in which I introduced them to improvised music-making, including recording sessions and live performances. They were then encouraged to begin developing their own long-term engagement as part of the improvised music scene in Newcastle.
Reading the feedback I gave after the project has reminded me of the confidence I gained from interacting with others through sound… and I miss it!
“The first [unmusical] workshop was terrifying! A room full of instruments. Once I learned how to relax [however], and realized there was no wrong way to do this, I began to completely enjoy the experience. Each week we became more relaxed and attuned to the sounds we were making… The music, the music WE were making! Our first performance was immense! We all sat chewing our nails as the night grew closer to our set. As soon as we started playing, all doubt drained from my body… We were doing it… And it sounded amazing!! The applause was unbelievable, we were even applauding ourselves… and rightly so! I had never been so wired in my entire life as I was after that gig…
The unMusical project has been one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. And for me, it’s was a time of healing… I can now play music! ”
Take a listen to some of our sessions on Soundcloud.