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The Sound Den at The Eden Project

The Sound Den Project, a free and inclusive music ensemble, sought to create a unique space for young musicians to connect with nature, their talents, and one another. With our wonderful music practitioners Anna, Willow, Jo, and Giles leading the project, they aimed to harmonise music with the great outdoors.

Set in the Eden Project's inspiring surroundings, the Sound Den Project encouraged young musicians to create music as a response to the environment. Over three hot days in August, six young people, aged 13 to 18, with a range of musical abilities, gathered to explore their musical talent, grow in confidence, and explore their creativity.

The project began with introductions and some playful instrument exploration. A range of acoustic instruments and music technology was available. What made this experience truly unique and experimental was when one of our practitioners, Willow, allowed the young people to attach contact microphones to the trees and plants in the different biomes.

Over the three days, the young people composed three distinctive pieces of music (take a listen below!). Among them, "Musical Biomes" was a standout, capturing the essence of their surrounding environment.

The young people not only progressed musically but also connected with one another and formed friendships despite anxieties. One of the young individuals underwent a notable transformation when she demonstrated her ability to work effectively in a group, despite previously believing she lacked this skill. Another young person noted how his confidence grew when singing in front of the group.

“Singing in front of people again. I’ve been scared for a while. My confidence is getting there.”

Over the three days the young people became considerably more self-sufficient and eager to contribute their ideas to enhance the creative process of music making. The project's openness and freedom took them by surprise, allowing their creativity to flourish.

Feedback became an essential part of their journey, evolving from early formal sessions to more relaxed, group-style discussions. This shift allowed the young people to feel more at ease expressing their ideas and express their feelings about participating.

The takeaways:

1. Creativity: The Eden Project’s environment was a rich source of inspiration for young people. “My favourite thing was having the tour around the biome.”

2. Collaboration: With four experienced music practitioners with diverse skills on hand (one of them was also leading on the pastorale care), the young musicians created incredible music and got the chance to experiment with lots of different instruments. “I liked having a go on the violin because I thought I’d never get to try it.”

3. Confidence with Group Work: The project empowered these young people to overcome personal hurdles and gain confidence, both in their musical skills and in their interactions with others. “I trust everyone now. I know that I’m not going to be mocked.”

4. Freedom: Trust and creative freedom allowed the young musicians to push their boundaries and explore new avenues. “I didn't expect it to be this fun."

5. Feedback: Feedback sessions should be sensitive to participants' comfort levels, with a preference for informal group discussions and the use of creative and playful feedback methods.

These six young people left The Sound Den with newfound confidence, friendships, and musical ability. One of the young people has been signposted to join a local mens choir and apply for fundraising to support his musical aspirations and another young person has taken up 1:1 instrumental lessons.

This project showed us that in the world of music, there are no rights or wrongs—only endless possibilities.

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