I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with running workshops. On the one hand, they are a lot of work and require me to put in a lot of effort to engage people. On the other hand, the outcomes are often amongst the most pleasing I experience in my practice. Specifically, I like to think that after my workshops some of the attendees will be inspired to act differently or will continue making noisy things.
I recently visited Bedford College to deliver a Noise Box workshop to a group of about 12 students, over two days. In the run up to this I had my concerns. What if I couldn’t engage the “youth”? What if they didn’t like what we were up to and stormed out? What if they started fighting…with soldering irons!? I’m really not one for thinking the worst in such situations but I hadn’t delivered a Noise Box workshop to a group so young before and I guess having two parents who taught at college might have tainted my view slightly ;)
As it turns out this was the most rewarding workshop I have ever run!
Everyone turned up on day one and was really attentive, asking questions, getting on. They worked mainly in pairs and by the end of the day there were six finished noise boxes. I was shattered but Leah Kardos (the lecturer who got me down for this – and a damn fine musician too!) looked after me and by day two I was ready to make some more noise!
Day two was a really pleasant surprise. As day one had gone so well I wasn’t sure how much we might have to keep everyone occupied on day two but everyone was still full of enthusiasm and we added various things to do on an ad hoc basis, which worked really well. I knew it was going to be cool when a chap called Tom turned up with a part built step-sequencer that attaches to the extension on the synths they had made overnight, and another lad (Miles) turned up with an old radio, keen to build his synth into it. ACE!
Those who had worked in pairs on day one got on with making their synths, with the help of the person they’d helped make a synth the day before, whilst others stuck their synths through Logic to add effects etc. There were a couple of impromptu performances.
Additionally, people were asking about circuit-bending a lot after I introduced it at the start of the first day. One lad popped to his car to get a toy belonging to his daughter and two people chipped off to the charity shop at lunchtime. It was great, a real hive of activity.
I worked with various people through the day to make sure they got the most out of it. My only regret is that close to the end we broke one of the circuit bent toys – despite my best efforts to salvage it. I worked with Miles to make sure we used as many of the original radio controls for his synth and Tom finished his sequencer, which he put in a see-through envelope at the end of the day exclaiming that he had now made a Noise Box and a Noise Bag. HAAAAA!
A really rewarding workshop! I genuinely got the feeling that people were inspired to at least dabble some more. Miles seemed keen to try something more elaborate and we (MortonUnderwood) hope to commission Tom to complete his sequencer so we can see what the demand is like amongst owners of our synths. Hopefully something useful for his CV!
Lastly, I’d like to thank Leah for inviting me down (she’s a star!) and her colleague Richard for his help over the two days. It is always nice to have a helper that knows what they are doing. He makes cool stuff: customguitarprojects.co.uk / Facebook page. I hope to head back to Bedford College because that was very rewarding indeed!