In which I make my presenting debut
Kathryn writes :
The days are so packed that it is clear that if I try to record the detail of each day spent in Georgia and Azerbaian, I'll be writing until Christmas. And, as each day is filled with new sights , sounds, tastes, smells, conversations and learning, the experiences of last week are quickly fading. So what happened in Georgia was this; Thursday began with a wonderful session called Tuning In - Music, Mindfulness and Mental Health by our friend Sian Croose, in which she explored bringing together mindfulness techniques, and singing as a means of supporting mental health and tackling issues of anxiety. This for me was very timely as this was the day I was presenting my Pecha Kuchas on partnership working. The breathing and stillness were very calming and I approached my presentation in a much better state of mind.
My talk was in a session of four others, all of which were very interesting and very different. There were two 15 minute presentations and two Pecha Kuchas, the format is 20 slides in 7 minutes in which to convey your message, very tricky . It's a good method though because you have to distil everything you want to say, you cannot ramble. The images almost have to tell the story. The tendency, generally in this conference context is for people to use slides with lines and lines of text and to read it. Any way I am pleased to say I did it , Twenty slides in 7minutes I think working on the ACE narrative report with its extremely precise and limited word counts really helped me to develop this and rehearsing with Darren for his recent ACE /YM presentation was also really helpful. It seemed to go well, it's hard to tell. I find that as I am neither an academic nor a practitioner I am somewhat insecure in this environment of great minds and excellent musicians!
In the afternoon there was a great programme reflecting Partnership and Social Change with some excellent presentations about work in prisons, community opera, musical inclusion and an arts practice research performance by Dr. Kathleen Turner. Her presentation was mostly in song and her songs are beautiful and very moving. She spoke about singing, songwriting, connection and social change; about how her view of her role as a community musician has shifted from being a 'facilitator' to being a member of a community, which cares for each other.
She spoke of the importance of protecting shared and safe spaces, of championing kindness, of seeking empathy and of igniting the imagination and of fostering pride in each other. At the end of a seriously emotional afternoon Pete presented his Pecha Kucha on shared leadership and the story of More Music, and how it has grown to be an organisation in which there is a space for everyone to share ideas, to contribute to the work, to grow, progress and to have their voices heard.
In the evening, at the Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film university I attended a very unusual and lovely puppet show, which charmingly and skilfully animated famous songs from famous operas. This project aims to excite the interest and imaginations of very small children in opera, in the belief that it will improve educational performance and prevent certain behavioural conditions through the development of aural skills. There are so many different and fascinating approaches to addressing such issues, fast becoming problems seemingly everywhere, as some of the negative influences of technology, social media and western capitalism extend to more traditional societies.
The next part of the evening was a performance by the Tbilisi Univeristy choir in a great open space above the puppet theatre. I can't really begin to describe the sound made by the group of 40 young people I can only talk about the physical and emotional responses to the beauty of the singing. The evening was so hot, absolutely boiling and yet when the choir sang there were goose bumps and tears, I was however not alone; my companions were pretty much in the same state. It was astonishingly, heart achingly, spell bindingly beautiful to hear these lovely young people singing with such exultant voices, with passion, intensity, commitment, belief, power and utter joy.