Member Blog: Noah Max - Move!
ISM member Noah Max gives his opinion of the current situation in which musicians find themselves, and examines ways that the UK music scene can forge ahead once restrictions are lifted.
‘Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome is called insanity.’
Albert Einstein understood that the purpose of experimentation is not success, but failure. The frustration of our best efforts forces us to reinvent and re-examine until we discover truth.
Musicians are faced with a difficult truth: help is not coming. While successful petitions may achieve results, they never inspire anyone. Instead of demanding assistance from outside we should turn our attention within, where we realise that solutions to the challenges we face can be found in the uniqueness of our own creativity. If each and every one of us does something we will witness a replenishing of our cultural ecosystem and a flourishing of the Arts that is beyond our wildest imagination.
We may not be able to perform right now but we can imagine new ways to bring people together safely, plan future events and ensure our risk assessments and safe working policies are watertight so that from December we can hit the ground running. Soloists and chamber groups can find local venues, collaborate with them on putting COVID precautions in place and give live concerts for live audiences of a limited size as soon as restrictions lift. The UK’s many orchestras, ensembles and collectives can give regular small-scale performances for live audiences at event spaces, galleries, places of worship, community areas and public spaces like train stations up and down the country. Live audiences complete the circuit of performance and by welcoming them back we transmit the crucial message that the audience is an essential part of the artistic process.
The UK’s tradition of amateur music-making is extraordinary. Amateur comes from the Latin amare from which the French language derives amour. These communities are built on love and if we don’t nurture them now we may lose them forever. For the time being, giving public concerts is not nearly so important as taking the initiative to create inventive and safe environments for the members of these groups to come together and make music.
By moving away from product and towards process we shift focus from competition to collaboration and allow everyone to find new ways of expressing themselves. In the world at large, people with no musical background come to events not for us (the artists) but for themselves, for their own joy, satisfaction and sense of discovery. Imagine a world where people want to pour their taxes into the arts: it begins with putting them at the centre of the experience.
We have an opportunity now to lead by example and enable the whole world to realise the value of the artistic process as a way of life. We can build a future where everyone feels connected through art. Now we must do what artists have always done: shape the times we live in and propel them forwards. Let's lean into uncertainty and allow it to fuel our creativity.
Benjamin Franklin wrote that there are three kinds of people: those who are immovable, those who are movable and those who move. Artists must flow forwards. We should waste no more time on those who will not be moved and instead pour our energies into moving others’ souls.
For an expansion of the creative principles explored in this article, please enjoy my recent talk on Expanding Creativity Together in Times of Uncertainty.
For motivational messages of hope from inspiring figures such as conductor and composer Ronald Corp OBE, former Creative Director of Schott Music Sally Groves MBE and independent record producer Andrew Keener, explore my ongoing series of bitesize Lightbulb interviews.
Stay safe and keep creating.
Inspiring hope through creativity.
Creative Director: Echo Ensemble
Echo Ensemble's next concert 'Hope' will take place on Thursday 10 December at St Giles' Cripplegate, London. For further information and to book tickets, visit www.noahmax.net/events.