BBC Play It Again
Some of you might have watched the BBC Play It Again TV series on BBC1 on Sunday nights. In this series every week an adult celebrity personality is given the challenge of learning a musical instrument and culminates in a major public performance with professional musicians. The series featured the following:-
- Jo Brand - organ
- Frank Skinner - banjo
- Aled Jones - drums
- Robert Winston - saxophone
- Diane Abbott - piano
- Bill Oddie - electric guitar
As part of the campaign to encourage adult learners the BBC laid on a series of events around the country where anyone could turn up with their instrument of choice and have a go with a professional BBC orchestra at rehearsing and then performing a well known piece.
We were asked to provide a stand at the Cambridge event. We also got a brief listing on the BBC website. Myself and some very good folk spent all day taking to very enthused adults and children during the breaks between rehearsals. Some others from the music school took part in the event itself and learnt ‘Tonight’ from Bernstein’s West Side Story. The final performance involved something like 250 people (see below).
What a day! We had quite a lot of ‘bites’ and a lot of promises to turn up and see things on Saturday mornings. There were something like 600 people there. I think I managed to turn round one lady who wanted someone to coach for singing near her in Newmarket to coming to see us if there’s a possibility to join in with a sing with swing event. I have a definite taker who is coming purely for the theory lesson (but once inside I’m sure she’ll succumb!).
The Oud and Hurdy Gurdy attracted a lot of interest and did their job well - thought we had quite an eye-catching stall (but I would, wouldn’t I!). The soundtracks from the Sing with Swing and Big 4-0 were pretty good (although we did have some stiff competition on the noise front in the afternoon).
There were some strange instruments - concert ukalele, mandela (octave mandolin). Everyone taking part seemed to enjoy themselves and the BBC and the orchestra seemed to do a fantastic job at including and encouraging everyone. It concluded with a performance of ‘Tonight’ from the West Side Story - sounded pretty good from the balcony - see below. It’d be interesting to hear from the performers and also those that took pictures or video or captured sound on their phones.
In fact everyone seemed to be having such a good time that myself and my daughter decided to attend the event at the Watford Colliseum 2 weeks later (and recorded the same for the HUMS Aloud podcast…
Well done to the BBC - well worth the license fee for this one event alone. It was really good to see people so enthusiastic about learning to play an instrument.