Grade One-a-thon – getting started!

Catherine Underhill (year 3) is organising a new activity through the student Music Society:  You’re probably thinking: what on earth is a Grade One-a-thon? Well, it’s what it says on the tin – a chance for anyone to get involved, learn a new instrument and ultimately reach grade one standard within a short time.

GLP_0355Just before the summer holidays began, I was speaking to a few friends in my year group about setting this up as a Music Society project. I then spoke to the newly appointed president of the society, Scott Hunter, to get the ball rolling. The first few conversations we had were fairly vague as I was still in the initial stages of planning.

Once the summer break began in June, I sat down and created a list of everything I could think of that would be needed to make this work. There was a lot to do, but I was determined to make it happen as it would create something fun for anyone wanting to be involved in the Music Society, enhance musicians’ appreciation of other instruments and instrument families, and improve many skills, such as reading a new clef, sight-reading, and teaching someone your own instrument.

GLP_0292The next step was to see how much interest there was in the project, other than just from my friends. Once I had posted on various Facebook groups, I received a number of messages with people showing interest which was very motivating and exciting for me. Before this, it was just a small idea, but now I knew that the project would happen!

During my busy summer, juggling jobs, work experience and many other things, I applied for funding through the student union to cover costs of items such as music books, an accompanist, hiring/ borrowing instruments and the exam entrance fee. I wanted to subsidise the project as much as possible, so all students interested could have a new musical experience to enhance their time at university, without committing too many extra pennies!

At the bunfight in September, I had a further 37 people show interest in the project. I emailed them all asking for further information to compile a list of participants. It was at this point that I received the news from Scott that the funding application was unsuccessful. The only option was to plough on – no point in giving up now I had got so far.

I spoke to friends and Scott about what I could do. I found different pots of funding, but first of all I emailed Jeanice Brooks, the head of music, to discuss any funding available directly from the music department. This meeting was very successful, as we were granted a small pot of money to initiate the project. Through mutual agreement, Jeanice and I decided some terms and conditions for me to follow. She also gave me an email address for a contact that she has at one of the examination boards, which will come in very useful very soon when booking an examiner for all the participants. She was also extremely helpful with offering suggestions of cheap/ free ways to get instruments for participants as the budget would not stretch that far!

I am currently in final talks with Jeanice about the funding and having given participants a deadline for when they must tell me they wish to be involved. I will be hosting a meeting in the next two weeks to speak to everyone involved and get them started on their instrument. I am in the process of pairing people up so everyone has a point of contact for someone who will be able to give them guidance and teach them on their instrument.

It has been an enjoyable process so far, with the many hours it has taken, but it shall be so well worth it when I meet everyone in a few weeks and get them started! I’ll be keeping you all posted on the progress of participants and ideas for the future.