Music Team Spotlights #1: Connect, Learn and Discover

The music industry has ground to a halt in the wake of the coronavirus crisis – concerts and live events as we know them are all suspended for the foreseeable future at what should be a booming time for the live music sector. However, you’ll have probably noticed there is a huge amount happening online – from live streams to learn and participate. To help you navigate this digital maze, we've trawled the web and collated our picks for you to explore wherever you are in the world, whether in lockdown, self-isolation or looking for something resembling 'normal life'. There is some great online entertainment here for the whole family too.

We'll be keeping you up to date with what we've discovered so check out the next installment of Music Spotlights here.


Create / participate


Sarathy Korwar – Stayin' Alone

Sarathy Korwar is a fabulous drummer and composer and has collaborated with us at the British Council on several past projects including Sound Journeys through Canada and as our Musician in Residence, UAE with PRS Foundation. His new piece is a collaborative affair which he's inviting musicians far and wide to get involved with. Check out the initial video of 'Stayin' Alone' on YouTube and then get involved by creating your own interpretation.

– Stephen Bloomfield (Music Marketing Manager)


Self-Isolation Choir

The Self-Isolation Choir has been specially formed in response to the global impact of the coronavirus. Singers from around the world can join and take part in the events and activities organised by the choir in their own home, starting with Handel's Messiah. With over 1,700 members so far, this is serious and high quality stuff with an impressive level of training. There is a £15 charge to help with resources, including a donation to a hardship fund.

– Cathy Graham (Director, Music)


Sam Lee – Fire Choir

Friend of the British Council, Sam Lee has taken the Fire Choir online using Zoom. Check the site for details of the next sessions. This is brining people together from all over the world. There's a £5 suggested donation for taking part. Watch the 13 April session here to whet your appetite.


Connect / learn


Roundhouse - #RoundYourHouse

During lockdown, Roundhouse continues its support for emerging talent. To help young people grow creatively, the organisation put together a variety of digital opportunities, including virtual workshops, online Roundtable series for 18-25s, podcasts and weekly social media take-overs. Also, Roundhouse’s studios team has been on hand to help young people with their Home Studio set ups, so they don’t stop creating at home. 


Music Hackspace

Music Hackspace’s programme moves online to include virtual talks, workshops and live streams which embrace topics centred around music and technology. Covering a wide range of fascinating themes including AV, music production and experimental technology.   


ISM's guides for teaching music online

ISM – The Incorporated Society of Musicians – have pulled together a number of quick reads here with lots of information to consider if you're an instrumental teacher making the move to online teaching. From the well-trodden debates about which platforms are best, and why, there's also some useful ideas about lesson length when teaching online and considerations to make when teaching youngsters. 

– Stephen Bloomfield (Music Marketing Manager) – Community Streaming Sessions

Various times – check online are hosting live streaming sessions with music industry experts several times a week from their Instagram account. Presenting on a range of music related topics from digital arts marketing, radio to new music technologies, this is a great opportunity to gain useful knowledge in niche areas of music, for artists or industry professionals. 

– Grace Pitkin (Music Programme Coordinator) 


Nicola Benedetti's Tutorials

Lovely general advice on studying a piece of music; she talks about Elgar and teaches Salut d'Amor. There are also great general tutorials – for example around practising. This is her new endeavour to educate and it's well done; she is relaxed and natural and a great advocate for music. Good for children and young people too.

– Cathy Graham (Director, Music) 


For the whole family

With schools remaining closed for many young people in the UK, many arts organisations are offering digital alternatives to classroom learning. In music, we’ve seen a number of classical ensembles and organisations share activities and resources, including:


BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Every Wednesday and Friday

BBC NOW are posting a variety of education content. For example, how about creating a musical instrument from items around your home?


Beatbox Adventures with SK Shlomo

Every Thursday, 14.00 BST

Beatbox star and mental health campaigner SK Shlomo invites children and their parents to join him each Thursday at 14:00 BST. Guests include Basement Jaxx, Bill Bailey and KT Tunstall. Promises to be a lot of fun!


Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Have a wealth of resources for learning more about contemporary music including making your own graphic scores. 


Manchester Camerata’s Mini Music Makers

Every week day, 10.30

Video episodes with games, music-making, craft and singalong – aimed at 5-7 year old and their families. A new video is posted every week day morning at 10.30am on Manchester Camerata’s Facebook and YouTube channels . 


Royal Opera House’s Learning Platform

Brings opera and ballet into the virtual classroom.  


RSNO Challenge

Every Wednesday, 10.30

Every week #RSNOchallenge brings a fun, family-friendly challenge to help keep you entertained during isolation. Join their musical community every Wednesday at 10.30am on Facebook or on YouTube.


Music Mark

For even more family content, Music Mark have pulled together activities and resources for all ages.


Discover / entertainment

There's so much music available at the moment, as artists find ingenious ways to carry on being creative despite widespread lockdowns. We've handpicked a few things we think you should take a look at. You can also hear the tracks that have kept us entertained recently on our Lockdown Listening LP.


Playlist: Music for Mental Health Awareness 

Making sense of our human experience; whether loneliness, anxiety, grief, incarceration or when even the bright sunshine seems cruel. Wonderful playlist and wise words from Southbank Centre's Director of Music Gillian Moore.  

Leah Zakss - Music Programme Manager


#SingTheScore with I Fagiolini - Robert Hollingworth

Includes a fun analysis of Monteverdi's Si ch'io vorrei morire - an orgasm in music.  Very instructive, but also very whacky presentation with Robert Hollingworth's distinctive humour. Well-presented and easy to understand. 

– Cathy Graham (Director, Music)


Sound and Music Podcast

Introduced by Sound and Music CEO Susanna Eastburn and composer Des Oliver, this three-part podcast explores ‘conversations and music related to Time, Inspiration, and Taste’. Guests include composers Jem Finer, Elaine Mitchener, Chaya Czernowin, Richard Rijnvos, Cassandra Miller, Supriya Nagarajan, Gerald Barry, Matthew Shlomowitz, and Joanna Ward.

– Michael Duffy (Music Programme Manager)


Supersonic Festival Podcast

Supersonic Festival celebrate and champion all the incredible unclassifiable artists that featured on “the greatest line-up that couldn’t be” in their two-part podcast. Including a special feature on Rocket Recordings and an interview with Sex Swing.


Serious Live Stream Sessions

A new series of jazz music sessions from Serious.


The Royal Philharmonic Society

Our friends at The Royal Philharmonic Society have got stacks for you to enjoy, particularly if you're a classical music fan. Their Music Will See Us Through webpage, built in response to the coronavirus crisis, has talks, their picks of the best of online classical offers, examples of digital creativity from the classical world, plus inspiring stories from past and present to give us all some hope for a brighter future. In particular, it's well worth a trip to the RPS Talks, usually only available to RPS members but currently on offer to all for a limited time including an interview with the 'original Kanneh-Masons' Kadiatu and Stuart: 'for many parents striving to get their children to practise, their words are golden.' 

– Stephen Bloomfield (Music Marketing Manager) 


Tim Burgess’ Listening Party

Tim Burgess, lead singer from UK band The Charlatans, has arranged album listening parties online – simply listen to the album each evening on the website and then join the congregation on twitter to share your comments and thoughts. Proving very popular! 

– Joel Mills (Senior Music Programme Manager)


Orchestras online


Aurora Play

Regular streams of some of the best concerts from Aurora’s archive, including their trade-mark performances of Symphonies without music. They are also providing ways of joining in – to dance, sing, draw and share your own orchestral adventures online.  Definitely worth a visit to content from this adventurous young orchestra. 

– Cathy Graham (Director, Music) 


London Sinfonietta – Lockdown Live 

London Sinfonietta launched their Channel – a digital home for new music – late last year, and have bolstered this with a whole host of content in their Lockdown Live series, including Sinfonietta Shorts with performances and conversations with composers and introductions to the contemporary music world of orchestral instruments. 

– Michael Duffy (Music Programme Manager) 


Manchester Collective

It’s always a pleasure to be at a Manchester Collective concert. They’re one of the UK’s most exciting and newest ensembles and what they bring to the stage is meticulously thought out and brilliantly crafted. In response to the current restrictions, they’ve offered up the next best thing to a live show, and have made their latest project Cries & Whispers (captured on 14 March in Salford) freely available online. It’s a rich programme of music for string quartet by Britten and Shostakovich, plus an arrangement of a madrigal by Gesualdo. Look out for further content from them over the coming weeks. 

– Michael Duffy (Music Programme Manager) 


Royal Northern Sinfonia – Inside Story

This is full of information about the orchestra, its musicians and the music it performs presented attractively.  Including a really fun interactive score where you can play Beethoven's 5th Piano concerto, the Emperor, on your computer. 

– Cathy Graham (Director, Music)