Some words on Nicola Benedetti’s continued brilliance are worth sharing here.
Last week saw the latest Benedetti music participation project dates announced, this time for the Benedetti Baroque Sessions 2023. In addition to all of the (now) usual virtual-based tutorials and mass participation opportunities, there’s also a chance for an ‘early career’ musician to win a place in the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra in 2024 in time for the group’s international tour to Asia.
Announcements like these are carefully planned to draw maximum exposure. In the case of Edinburgh Festival Artistic Director Benedetti there are multiple strings to the bow (pun intended), so too many buttons that still need to be pressed. No surprise then, she popped up on Radio 4’s Today on 19th August reminding us about what music education needs most right now. Spoiler: it’s not manifestos or reports, it’s resources.
What Benedetti can be consistently relied upon is the clarity of her message. No matter where she finds herself (and regardless of whether there’s a microphone or not), she has the unfailing ability to articulate her message in a way that sustains attention and galvanises action. She is able to communicate a call-to-action or path in a language that non-specialists will understand. She is a leader.
Over the past few months, I’ve found writing about classical hard. Participation in discussion has been a stop-start experience. The voices are different, the conversations blunt. Mistakes are easier to make, and forgiveness harder to come by. My attention has shifted onto a more substantial writing project, a book charting the role music has played in my recovery from depression, both as a participant and as a listener.
There have still been periods over the past few months where my focus has slipped, and negative self-talk has crept in. In these moments, it’s been important to remind myself that in completing on something we have to focus on the process rather than the goal. Execution is the key to the realisation of ideas.
Benedetti’s words in her Today interview have therefore a powerful impact on my hyper-local experience too – a clear call to get back on the horse.
“There’s no time in a week for kids to integrate into their instinctual selves, to have rhythm and harmony and melodic games to play together. There’s no time. There’s not a half hour in the week that actually elevates how they feel to get to a state that will most likely allow them to think a little bit clearer, to be more in touch with their mind and their body in a healthy or productive way. There’s always time for something like that. So for me, more manifestos are not what we need. We need the resources that the teaching community is telling you that they need because they know what to do. They need to be celebrated and supported and they need resource.”
Part of what contributed to my recovery was exactly this forty years ago. It laid the ground, creating a space for further exploration both as a musician at school and university, and later as a listener. This space was a nursery for the imagination. It wasn’t simply that music had a soothing effect, but that music was a ‘place’ where I could create meaning and deepen understanding of the world around me. And in those moments of debilitating self-doubt, Benedetti’s words are a timely reminder.
The Benedetti Baroque Sessions return 2-13 October 2023. Sign-up via the Benedetti Foundation website.
Apply to participate in the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra here.