Reflections on a week of turntablism workshops delivered by Bradley Smith, funded by the Arts Council written by Rachel Perry (NCW Director of Music).
We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity for Bradley to spend a week here at NCW delivering turntablism and scratch DJ workshops. It was a truly refreshing week – inspiring and exciting. Watching and listening to our students engaging with these workshops was just fantastic; this was such a valuable and fun week for our students – and, of course, for members of staff too.
Bradley had a structure to the week in mind, but enough flexibility within this to easily accommodate our school day. Every single key stage 3 student had an hour-long workshop, along with our year 6 transition students who were coming to NCW for the first time. All of our music GCSE, A-level, BTEC level 3 Performing and BTEC level 3 Music Technology students also had at least one workshop with Bradley.
It felt very special and rare that this series of workshops has been specifically developed for blind and VI students. The workshop delivery was truly excellent, and the content was carefully thought through to ensure a balance of learning and practising techniques with some more creative and even collaborative opportunities using iPads.
The two Zoom calls with Nev (a VI musician living in the States) added something particularly unique to the week. Both lower and upper school students had the opportunity to ask questions after hearing a little about Nev along with a fabulous demo of his work. This was an opportunity for our students to engage in reflection on what it means to be a VI musician, as well as to ask questions about practicalities and accessibility. The final call of the week was hugely valued by our older students who shared some of their music work and then discussed it with Nev.
Bradley brought with him professionalism, openness, warmth, and above all a love of Music Technology and a passion for the educational opportunities it can bring to every student. He was wonderful to have in school, and he leaves us with a legacy of expertise, resources, equipment and excitement so that this project will continue within the key stage 3 music curriculum next year.
Key Stage 3:
“The turntables were very interesting and I really enjoyed PlayGround on the tablets – it was really nice how there were different packages of sounds on each.” – Maxwell
“I found it amazing, interesting; I think it started me off well for my DJ career, because I want to be a DJ. The turntables were fabulous and the PlayGround app was fabuloso. I found it interesting – all the different beats. It was just nice to do a session with Bradley. The zoom call was fantastic. It inspired me meeting this DJ who has no sight, he is two and a half years in to his music making and I found it amazing. It inspired me even more to be a DJ.” – Lawson
“I really enjoyed it. I found it very interesting and informative. I really liked the zoom call and to meet a musician with visual impairment and find out how they overcame all the barriers they met. I found it really inspirational and helpful. Thank you.” – Natalie
Key Stage 5:
“Bradley was really engaging. Learning a new skill was great and Bradley really explained the techniques. I liked the session with Nev a lot. It was great having an external producer giving feedback on our songs.” – Rico
“I thought the session with Bradley Smith was particularly useful and interesting because of the niche aspect of this – it is awesome we have this equipment in school now. Nev coming in was useful to gain feedback on our music projects from a more experienced standpoint.” – Dan
Thank you to all who made this week of workshops possible, and especially to Bradley Smith and Nev.