Community Music Victoria was established to re-discover something really important
In a society that worships experts, excellence and consumption, we've forgotten that the most valuable aspect of music is actually making it. There's nothing wrong with concert-going, CD buying and downloads, but it’s through actively making music that the most profound joys and fulfilment can be found. Music-making needs no audience. In fact, it is the participants rather than the listeners who reap the most significant benefits. Contemporary western society has only recently forgotten this truth. It wasn't that long ago that music-making was something most people did as an ordinary, everyday part of their lives.
At Community Music Victoria, we believe that all of us have the need, capacity and right to make music, and that if we are deprived of this experience, we, and our society, are diminished. What's more it is in making music together where the most effective benefits are achieved.
Traditionally, making music together has been one of the most important binding-agents within and between communities
When people make music together, connections develop. These connections can transcend profound difference, create unexpected unity, and bring cathartic joy which extends into everyday life. Through creative practices, we discover and develop connections that join our collective beings in imaginative and intuitive ways which transcend rationality.
We often use the term “harmonious” as a description of the society we aspire to live in. This is no accident. Our bodies respond physically, sensually and emotionally to harmony - the connections between sounds moves us. Making harmony in the moment is a joyful and up-lifting experience - a tangible manifestation of our dreams of oneness through diversity.But most importantly, making music together is fun, and in the context of a culture which demands instant gratification, we’re pleasantly surprised to learn community music-making is immediately fun.
In the case of singing, through using just the body and voice people can discover, explore and celebrate their creative capacities in ways which no other activity can offer so easily, accessibly, inclusively, and (possibly most importantly) with such immediate gratification.
Experienced facilitators can guide groups through experiences where their abilities to make their own music are made real, quite literally, within minutes. We’re not just referring to a group’s capacity to sing a “given” piece, but to improvise and compose as well. This is not mere theory.
At Community Music Victoria we have witnessed this apparent miracle so many times that we are beginning to forget that we live in a society in which so many people (perhaps most) have been convinced that they can't sing, that they are “tone deaf’, or that making music is “best left to the experts”.
This tragic manifestation of cultural cringe might not matter so much if it weren't for the fact that making music together is such a basic part of living a fulfilled life. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to do all we can to re-discover our musicality. There are still a few cultures left in which the concept of “performance music” is unknown, in which communities regularly come together to make music, not to be entertained or up-lifted by professionals, but to express and celebrate among themselves the beauty of their communal existence in ways which transcend the inevitable sorrows, struggles and pain which accompanies life on earth.
So, how do we reclaim this essential aspect of being human?
Firstly by recognising it. Secondly by honouring it. Thirdly, by offering a helping-hand to those among us who wish to bring group music-making back into the central place it should occupy in a healthy community for their communities.
This is what we do at Community Music Victoria, through training, networking, advice and counselling, advocacy and resource development. With the support of Creative Victoria, we work to assist Victorian communities to make their own music together. If you would like to know more, just get in touch!