Hotwells Music Workshop is a community organisation based in Hotwells, Bristol, that has provided a forum for amateur music-making in chamber groups since 1971.
Who's it for?
Hotwells Music Workshop welcomes new members. It is suitable for almost any player of an orchestral instrument who wants to play chamber music – though it isn't suitable for complete beginners who can't read music. Experience suggests that those who have found Music Workshop most useful and enjoyable are:
- Those who haven't played since their school days and want to get going again
- Moderate players who welcome a relaxed, non-judgemental and supportive environment to improve and enjoy their music-making
- Experienced players who enjoy encouraging and supporting those who are less experienced
- Less experienced players who want to play with others but are not confident about (or interested in) playing in a large orchestra or wind band
- People with experience of playing in large groups who want to try something different
- Those whose commitments make it hard for them to join music-groups which make longer-term demands
- Those who are new to the area and wish to meet other players of all standards
How does it work?
The 'six-week session' is at the heart of the way Music Workshop works. Players sign on for a session of six (occasionally five) consecutive Thursdays. There are six such sessions each year – but you only commit to one at a time. There are no meetings during school holidays.
Music Workshop has the great merit that you don't have to commit yourself to long-term membership. Each player in a chamber group is indispensable, however, so the expectation is that all players undertake to attend all the Thursdays in any session they've signed up for.
Each session has an organiser who arranges the players into viable chamber groups. All the organisers are just people who enjoy taking part in Music Workshop and want to help it continue to flourish.
Music Workshop operates as a co-operative; there are no 'officers' and no 'committee'; anything needing discussion is decided at a brief meeting held on the first Thursday of a six-week session by all those signed-up for that session.
A typical six-week session looks like this:
- Week 1:
- Meet briefly for notices etc, pay dues, distribute music, disperse to rehearse in groups.
- Weeks 2 and 3:
- Groups rehearse their allocated piece.
- Week 4:
- Groups rehearse; in the last half-hour, groups pair off and 'perform' to each other, offering mutually supportive suggestions.
- Week 5:
- Groups rehearse, taking into account comments from previous week.
- Week 6:
- Informal 'concert' in Hope Chapel, where each group plays (7 minutes max) to an 'audience' of the other groups and any guests players wish to bring – followed by a party.
Then there's a break (coinciding with school holidays) before the cycle starts again.
Over the years Music Workshop has built up an extensive library of chamber music. Players will normally be involved in playing music from the standard classical or light/classical repertoire of the 17th to 21st centuries in any instrument combination and group size from duo to octet. In recent years we have commissioned work from Julian Dale, Steven Kings and Owen Leech.
The current subscription is £12 per six-week session, with the usual concessions. This pays for the hire of the school for rehearsals and Hope Chapel for concerts. If there is any surplus it is used to buy music and, from time to time, to commission new music from local composers.
When and where?
Meetings take place on Thursday evenings at Hotwells Primary School, BS8 4ND.
If you are interested in being part of Hotwells Music Workshop or want more information, contact Sue Otty (0117 927 9688) or David Burns (0117 973 0696). Session dates for 2016-2017 can be downloaded here (dates for 2015-2016 are here), but please note that you cannot just turn up for a session; you must sign-on by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org at least one week before the session starts. You might like to come to one of the concert evenings before you sign up, so you can meet some people and check that the standard of playing is appropriate for you.