We had to ask ourselves whether we were encouraging people to engage with new technology or were we experimenting with what that technology could do?
Building confidence, support, understanding, safety, allaying people’s fear of technology
When we were at public events, showing people what could be achieved through music making technology, we knew it would be a perfect opportunity to encourage more people to find out what’s out there and start using it!
We knew that if we wanted to do this with people who have had no previous experience of using the technology, it might sound obvious, but it was important to use only the things that we knew would work.
For example, when running an open session in the Olympic Park at Liberty Festival we knew it would be a great opportunity to share what we had been learning, and we knew we could get a lot of people engaging with accessible technology. We wanted people to take away a positive experience which might encourage them to explore further, so we focussed our set-up on the tried and tested tools we had used up to that point. We wanted to enable people to understand as quickly as possible what was on offer and how they could use it for their own musical activity.
We didn’t want to overwhelm people with lots of different equipment and confusing set-ups. It is tempting to try out the newest technology you’ve laid your hands on, but it’s important that you demonstrate the things that can work, and that you are confident with what you’re using. Otherwise you may put off people that might be apprehensive of using accessible music technology, the opposite of what we wanted to achieve!
Risk, failure, entering the unknown, happy to be confused by technology, overcoming problems, new possibilities
When we were delving into the unknown, working with new pieces of technology or trying out new methods of working in performance and composition, we knew that time and expectations were going to play an important role.
We knew we needed to work with people that were comfortable with the idea of music technology, that were past the ‘encouragement’ stage. We needed to work with them over a longer period of time and we had to manage expectations, both theirs and ours, being honest about what could realistically be achieved and leaving plenty of room for error!
For example, when we worked on methods of performance and composition we knew we would need to be learning as much as the participants. We’d have a lot of different equipment and the possibility for numerous different ways of configuring this equipment. We knew however that not all of the equipment might be useful, we had to be aware that things might just not work. We were open to the prospect of failure and that there might be a lot of trial and error involved.
We wanted people to have the chance to work out the best way to individualise and take ownership of the music they were making, meaning that when they did make progress it was worthwhile. We were lucky enough to have the time and space for people to work one on one, or two to one with facilitators which meant people were more comfortable making mistakes or things that they might not want to share with the whole group.
The biggest experiment of all though with SoundLab is the SL-app, in which we are creating our own software that will hopefully be a great encourager and accessible tool for people that want to get involved making music!