Interactive Music Experience
How do you sing? How do you play? How do you dance? How do you do?
Designed and developed by Beyond Skin and affectionately called the iME is a high impact diversity learning workshop through world music a dance
The Interactive Music Experience (iME) brand and formula is unique to Beyond Skin due to the character and skills of artists involved and years of experience fine-tuning the formula (since 2008). It, therefore, cannot be duplicated to the Beyond Skin standard by any other organisation.
“In 37 years of teaching, I have never seen all children engaged all of the time in any activity like I have today.” Primary School teacher at an iME Workshop
The genesis of the iME began with musicians involved in an early Beyond Skin project call ‘Motion’
The Motion Project organically crafted the iME as an option for a one off workshop that had no limit to the number of people who could be directly involved in the same moment. The iME set out to be a format that had the maximum impact in terms of giving everyone an overwhelming joyous intercultural experience.
Between 2012 – 2015 with a lottery investment from the Arts Council the iME was Beyond Skin’s most popular project format.
Depending on the size of space we can cater for very large numbers. We have been known to involve an entire school in a 2 hr session A unique experience that is never the same twice, as the participants become the performance.
“This type of experience should be more accessible to schools. If funding were in place to make the costs affordable, more children could enjoy. We recognise that we were very fortunate to be able to have these workshops in our school.”
“I think this is an excellent way of assisting community integration and development through our young people. I would certainly welcome more projects like this one.”
“Best workshop/music project I have ever been part of in 15 years of teaching.”
“This was a once in a lifetime unique and special opportunity which should be promoted as much as possible.”
“It surpassed our expectations! A wonderful and unique experience which left everyone in our school on a high!!”
A letter about the Interactive Music (Movement) Experience
“This is to express my personal and professional endorsement of Beyond Skin's Interactive Music Experience programme. I have participated actively in it for the past three years. In this period of time, I have observed the passionate commitment with which Beyond Skin promote and respond to ever-increasing interest by the community and voluntary organisations, schools and youth clubs all over Northern Ireland to host one of these events. I have thus participated as a musician and facilitator at events held with children, young people, adults and senior citizens from all cultural, national and social backgrounds.
I see iME events as one very effective way for the different audience groups to engage with music and cultural expression interactively. I believe they address two key needs in people:
First, iME events provide a genuine opportunity to challenge misconceptions about the essence of music and musicality. The distinction between performer and audience is blurred, as participants are encouraged to grab a percussion instrument, overcoming shyness or ignorance, they are taught how to play as they join in with the musicians in a range of games and musical conversations using instruments and voice. I have often seen iME bands begin a structured improvisation around a pattern or lyrics started off by a school child or another participant. The respectful, non-judgmental approach to everybody's ability to make music is disarming. I think here lies the secret as to why iMEs always end up with a very intense, fully participatory jam session; nobody is excluded from music-making, everybody is encouraged to explore their own innate musicality. This can be a very liberating experience, even for trained musicians who maybe have not experienced improvisation before.
Second, iMEs provide participants with interactive access to a rainbow of cultural, national and artistic expression which strongly challenges the stereotypes that perpetuate racism and bigotry. The iME programme exposes audiences to music styles from all over the world, performed and explained by artists who are able to complement their musical story with a personal story of migration, which inevitably enriches people's perceptions of art, music and cultural diversity in their own communities. For example, I often wonder how many geography lessons it would take to teach school children that the notion of thinking that Chile is close to Mexico (4,000 miles apart) is as inaccurate as to think Belfast is next to New Delhi (also 4,000 miles apart). To be able to do that and to use music to exemplify it is quite extraordinary.
Finally, along with the majority of musicians working with Beyond Skin, the current economic environment and policies governing the arts sector result in me not being able to work as a musician full-time in Northern Ireland. Yet, combining music performance with other forms of paid employment, rather than taking away from my professional attitude towards music, means that I choose to express my commitment and passion for music despite social and economic barriers. My professional attitude is in my commitment I believe this makes us international musicians in NI a positive example of why the personal pursuit of art and creativity is not an option only for those who can afford it, but it is a matter of personal and social growth. Working with my colleagues at Beyond Skin, and thanks to the free passport of music, I feel respected not because of my nationality, political views or education, but as a human being first of all. This simple and fundamental lesson is what I feel we in Northern Ireland need to learn more about, and in my experience, Beyond Skin is able to make in this a valuable contribution through its iME programme.”
Victor Henriquez (Musician from Chile, living in Northern Ireland since 2001)