Luckily our neighbours are elderly and not prone to complaining about the sounds which emanate from our house. This afternoon it was the painfully slow sight-reading of the Toreador’s song from Carmen, being picked on the ukulele and with an accompaniment on the tin whistle. There’s the counting to four business, to keep in time and then there are the notes. When one of us found the right note, the other was inevitably ahead or behind, what a cacophony! Still we have several weeks yet before we have to get up to the right speed. So we shall practise our parts separately and then put them together, going slowly over each section until it is ready and then finally speeding up the tempo.
The BBC’s mission is ‘to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.’ This music-making of ours comes firmly under the educate umbrella as it is part of the BBC’s Get Playing campaign. I read about it online and having looked at the website, wondered if I should be leaving this to the kids. But no, I found a caveat which says that you must be over 16, for which I more than qualify, as does my husband. Hooray! Finally something interesting which is aimed at my age group and one of my interests. The idea is for amateur musicians, playing a huge variety of instruments from bagpipes to sitar, to download the music, practise at home and then record their contribution, keeping in time with the conductor (the world renowned Marin Alsop). The techhies at the BBC will then put together all the video recordings, presumably balance out the sounds in case there are 5,000 violins and no double basses, and then the three minute sequence of virtual orchestra will be played as part of the Last Night of the Proms at the end of August.
I think it’s a splendid idea and I would much rather take part in this way than take part by voting in the X Factor or The Voice. It seems that every programme you watch or listen to nowadays is begging you to get in touch. Whether it’s Springwatch, the weather or Womans’ Hour on Radio 4 all they keep nagging on about is, ‘get in touch’ by email, tweet or facebook. Quite frankly, when I’m watching TV or listening to the radio, it’s downtime and the last thing I want to do is get in touch with the presenters or the programme makers. I just want them to entertain me, is that OK? On some shows they even spend time reading out comments that have been sent in. What a waste of time. If a section of a programme has already dealt with a topic, then I would assume that coverage has been thorough and even-handed. What I don’t then need is further comment from Joe from Manchester, to hear what he thinks. And, while I take seriously my responsibility to vote in general and local elections, please don’t ever ask me to vote about anything at all on the television. ‘The box’ is for my pleasure and entertainment, not for me to hear two pennyworth of opinion from all and sundry. It’s just laziness from the programme makers which encourages this pretend ‘let’s involve the audience’.
That said, I think it will be fun to get involved in Get Playing by practising and may be eventually recording a contribution. Lord Reith, the founder of the BBC, believed in public service broadcasting and this will involve us directly in musical activity and connect us to hundreds or thousands of like-minded people. I look forward to watching the final combined performance as entertainment, where I sit and watch and the BBC entertains me, even if I did play a tiny part in the music-making. Just don’t ask me to vote for the best player/musical piece/recording!