Where to start?! There are so many brilliant music resources online, and we’ve all got a bit more time to explore them now… This top 5 could have contained so many other things, and I do really encourage you to browse online and see what really captures you. For now, this list includes some things to get hands-on with and some others to sit back and enjoy; different ages are catered for too. Do use each one as a starting point for further listening and music-making. Maybe my most important point is: use this time to make and enjoy music every day – it is such a great inspiration and help in these very strange times!
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
One of the world’s great orchestras have made their extraordinary ‘Digital Concert Hall’ available for FREE – I love that you can browse the content in so many ways, so whether you choose something familiar or launch into the unknown, top-quality performances and presentation are guaranteed. The sound is amazing and it looks pretty special too. Be quick and snap up this premium offer as it expires on 31 March (tomorrow!) Sign up here
This is a really simple idea which can open up a world of music-making, and you don’t need to know anything to do it. Basically the program turns your computer keyboard into a sampler – ie, you press a key and a sound happens. I love things like this, that are used by top industry professionals and equally accessible to total beginners like us.You can launch straight in and experiment, and then as you work out what’s going on, you can customise and order things. Be led by what you like the sound of – there are no rules. Watch the demo videos to see what’s possible. Younger children might like to play with this with their grown-up, while older ones will love the independence of having the sounds at their fingertips.
Music in the Round
Really thinking about the value of making music every day at the moment, here’s a fantastic collection of videos for Early Years children and their families. There are songs for all parts of the day – from waking up and dressing to tidying and mealtimes – and lots of advice about how to create your own songs and musical activities. Again, you don’t need to be an expert – it’s about having fun and sharing good things with your children. And a particular mention for Polly Ives, who features in most of the films – she is just starting to livestream Concerteenies Concerts in which top professional musicians play concerts specially for little people. Enjoy!
BBC Ten Pieces
A few years ago the BBC began a big drive to popularise classical music for a new generation, which was great – they really showed how classical music is all around us, and we don’t need to put it in boxes. It started with an initial selection of ten “great” pieces, introduced by famous fans and with a whole load of resources and ideas to explore; they’ve since added lots more pieces and made a pretty comprehensive and valuable collection that will come into its own just now for both families and teachers… There are so many starting points for your own creative and compositional activities too. Ten Pieces is recommended for ages 7-14, but will work really well for older and younger people too.
Garage Band (Apple) & Music Maker Jam (Android)
So here’s a chance to get really hands-on with music. These apps are a bit like Soundpond in that they’re based on your computer or tablet, but they go much further in enabling you to create whole pieces based on whatever sounds you wish to use! When I started to compose 20 years ago, we didn’t have anything like this – but the really valuable ingredient is that you can try anything, you can experiment, see what you like, and pursue what interests you. It’s really quick to publish and share the results, and to find inspiration and tutorials online if you want them. If you want something that brings together art, science, imagination, and technology, and could prove endlessly fascinating, then start experimenting with GarageBand and Music Maker Jam today!