Absolute Classics Supports Mental Health Awareness Week

An Annan-based performing arts promoter is using the medium of classical music to raise awareness of mental health issues in young people.


Absolute Classics, a charity that works across Dumfries and Galloway to bring exciting and engaging concerts and music-making activities into the region’s remote communities, has extended its work to deliver a pilot workshop and concert as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Central Events Programme.


Building on Absolute Classics’ popular education and outreach programme, which delivers one-to-one masterclasses with world-class classical musicians for young people, the new venture was developed out of the feedback from the young participants of previous projects and the Fringe Society’s panel of Young People were very keen to work with them as a partner in this year’s programme.


The workshop is called Creating Stories Through Soundscapes and will take place on Tuesday 21 August at Fringe Central. Young trainees will be mentored by a team of creative professionals, including composer Luci Holland, and the project will culminate in a concert in November with the Tinderbox Orchestra at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts.


Absolute Classics education co-ordinator, Narelle Freeman, said: “Through our education and outreach programme activities, we learned that we all have a story to tell and music is a powerful and meaningful form of human communication.
“Everybody understands sounds way before language and they are more direct, uncomplicated and honest than words. This workshop will take participants through simple sound manipulation techniques to explore ideas, dreams, stories or other realities, which they can communicate directly through their own soundscapes.”


Absolute Classics’ education and outreach projects focus on harnessing the importance of music in young people’s lives, to inspire engagement with building their own skills, aspirations, potential and commitment to personal achievement.


Working in the areas between secondary and tertiary education, the project supports greater understanding and knowledge, improved technique training, active engagement within wider groups and professional networks, and developing self-expression and communication. It is hoped to extend the project to develop a series of workshops for the region which focus on mental health issues in young people.


Narelle explained: “Music is a powerful and personally meaningful form of connection, particularly for young people, and we are collaborating with music therapists and mental health professionals to ensure we can learn from this pilot so that we can develop workshops that we plan to deliver throughout Dumfries and Galloway from September 2018.”
“The workshops will utilise the importance of music in young people’s lives to encourage their exploration of their own personal development, self-expression, self-awareness and mental health as well as providing a platform for expressing issues and experiences among a supportive peer group, in a non-confrontational way.
“These workshops will share the same approach as our Fringe pilot where each young participant will have the opportunity to actively explore and become aware of their own connections between thoughts, emotions and physical reactions to different sounds and music, and then use their imagination to create narratives and direct the development of a sound-story to express their reactions.”

The charity is seeking to raise funds for the workshops through online crowd-funding channel Just Giving.


Absolute Classics director, Alex McQuiston, said: “We have ambitions to deliver the benefits of our education and outreach programme for many more young people living in remote communities throughout Dumfries and Galloway, regardless of the equipment available locally. But to achieve this, we need mobile technology.
“If you are able to support us, even in the smallest way, it will make an enormous difference in how many remote young people we can reach. You can support our education and outreach activities directly through Just Giving via the button on our website and Facebook pages, or by text – Text DGYP77 £5 to 70070
“Our 2018 festival programme is coming soon – full details will be revealed on our website along with opportunities for masterclasses with the international visiting musicians.”


Anyone who wishes to take part in Absolute Classics’ young people’s activities are asked to visit the charity’s education page at www.absoluteclassics.co.uk, Facebook page @absoluteclassicsconcerts or contact Narelle Freeman at [email protected].

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