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Masterclass trainer profile: an interview with John Webb

We are looking forward to welcoming workshop leader, composer and London Early Years Music Network (LEYMN) member John Webb to lead a unique masterclass – ‘What’s That Noise? – Encouraging Child-initiated Musicality’ – on Wednesday 21 March 2017. This is a rare and exclusive opportunity, not to be missed by early years practitioners looking to develop their professional practice.

Ahead of this masterclass, we thought you might like to find out more about John and his musical interests, his previous work and what to expect from the upcoming event.


What are your main musical interests and what aspects of music are you passionate about?

I’m a workshop leader and composer working with all sorts of groups, from early years to vulnerable adults, primary, secondary children and so on.  It’s amazingly varied and interesting, and I particularly love it when music forms the basis of spontaneous connections between people: when we’re improvising musically we’re really listening sympathetically and tuning in to each other.  This is the basis of communication between parents and very young children, and I think my strong interest in Early Years music making informs my work in all the other areas.


Which organisations and artists have you worked with, collaborated with, or been most inspired by?

All the organisations and people I work with teach me something slightly different and offer new experiences.  So with Chamber Tots at Wigmore Hall I work with the most inspiring and creative team imaginable; Create Arts will send me out to work with really interesting groups of people, such as prison inmates, vulnerable adults or dementia sufferers.  With Spitalfields Music I was working across art forms, which I really do love.  Although not always easy, I try to enjoy the challenges which inevitably come up (e.g. conducting 2000 children at the Royal Albert Hall) and learn from them.  Most inspirational recently was working with refugees in the refugee camp in Calais (on ‘The Calais Sessions’): it was such a moving experience, real mixed emotions for all of us on the team.


What has been your most memorable workshop-leading experience?

There are lots of moments.  Last year, I was improvising with some Pashtun refugees in Calais – they were singing songs they knew, I and a violinist accompanied them.  The music seemed to transport them to a different place – take them out of the situation they’re in.


Where are we most likely to find you?

Cycling round London to a variety of places with two large panniers full of workshop paraphernalia: cuddly toys, Lycra, instruments, Zoom, speakers, diary, lunch….

You will also find out more about my work, along with recordings and videos on my website.


What can attendees expect to take away from the masterclass ‘What’s That Noise? – Encouraging Child-initiated Musicality’?

We’ll be working in a Children’s Centre, so they’ll have a chance to work with the children, following their musical leads or trying to introduce a musical aspect into the children’s play.  You have to aim to be very flexible and creative to do this, to go with the flow.  You’re attempting to be a play partner, and to go with the child’s agenda rather than one’s own.  So, it’s an exploration of this approach and also an affirmation of children’s ability as self-reliant learners. Children start to talk and understand language within the first year or so and without any formal teaching by adults, which is the most remarkable feat!  So, when they play they’re probably learning about something which they’re fascinated by, so why not follow their lead and see what happens, rather than assuming we know what they ought to be doing?

Book your place at John’s masterclass here >


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