The Schippers paper is Communities Contexts and Constructs

  1. I am optimistic for the role of community music, which to my mind is gloriously unregulated.I sense that there is a trend for young people to increasingly take part in active community music making even though the form of their participation may initially lead in through the music they listen to (in so many different formats) or music gigs or festivals which are on the rise and attract large numbers, rather than their own practice or performance. Exposure to such a variety of music and ‘curiosity’ may be leading many to want to experiment or be creative in different music mediums themselves. If they have a solid music education, they are of course leaps ahead. But it is clear the young embrace the expressive power of music. How to document or harness such trends, or is this just a false hunch?
  2. How to maximise or add-value to the potential of community music making?


  • Celebrate community music making more (ie that enriches cultural life of community as well as participants). MCA doing this through awards and profiles in Music Forum; encourage more widely for all community/public events – local government action.
  • Share knowledge of the creative potential of community music making. As community music making doesn’t generate high volume of $, there is precious little if any media coverage of it. Ripple effect. Perhaps blogging, encouraging online exchange is the way to go. There is certainly minimal funds available for formal organised exchange, so the seeding has to be towards the action – perhaps to encourage young writers to attend music concerts/events and report (dare I say write a review) or express a reaction to these events. There is so much in the print media about books and writing, films, but so little about music. We have to do something about this, most probably through the back door as the front door seems locked shut.
  • Partnerships – there should be more, more. Professional/community partnerships; community/education partnerships. There is so much to gain from these. Can share MLC or KPO experiences. Many overseas examples. Win, win all round, but prejudices need to be left behind. Would that we could convince our professional music organisations to take on ‘community engagement projects’. But this does require them to allocate pro musicians time/expertise. I would be happy to engineer.
  • Contexts are changing, broadening or are they? Music of previous eras took place in many settings and perhaps the concert hall and recording studio have blocked peoples’ ears to more relaxed environments. Certainly folk music occurred in many different settings and folk music is perennially ‘rediscovered’. Perhaps contexts are circular…
  • The value of community music making to cultural life. How to quantify, document? Until there is respect given to the practice of community music making, as a practitioner, one is tempted to say ‘why bother to knock at a locked door?’ ‘Why speak to deaf ears?’ It is much more enriching to get on with the doing, to bring others into the fold and keep the creative aspect moving forward.


Anne Cahill, 2008

President, Kuringgai Community Orchestra.

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