What a week! We got the Arts Council funding. I won’t divulge how much it was as this would no doubt cause fits of apoplectic rage amongst the more rabid ‘journalists’. Let’s just say that it was an extremely generous amount which will ensure that this project reaches the full scale of its ambition, whilst leaving a legacy for future arts projects of this kind. It may even inspire other prisons to do the same. This has also given all the prisoners and staff who are involved a real boost. It’s an exciting time and the next 12 weeks or so will be amazing. Keep reading.
The choir rehearsal also went rather well. One of the 3 songs we did had a simple horn part which, as we have no brass section, the choir vocalised; it sounded huge. That song has already given me and others a goose bump moment but when we eventually do it with the band, performers and choir…wow; I can’t wait. Another number has 3 different vocal parts going at the same time; that also worked really well.
It wasn’t all plain sailing; the rehearsal was another patchy affair. The guys really need to up their game. It’s a continuous hour of music involving 20 songs. I don’t think some of them realise that they can’t get away with minimal work on this. Pros put in hours every day to perfect parts and performances; amateurs have to work harder.
In the rehearsals my ‘bad cop’ is at odds with the members of staff, ‘good cop’, who facilitates the sessions (and plays drums). He’s always trying to rein me in when I push the guys their parts right. I look at it in these terms: to win an Olympic event you have to put yourself through the most physically and mentally demanding training on a daily basis; but you forget all that pain when you win gold. If I don’t push the guys, all they will remember is how badly they performed their potential will not be fulfilled. I feel that I am responsible for ensuring that doesn’t happen and their overriding memory will just be how good they were and the positive things they could achieve when they leave prison.
Be happy, be safe (and find away to realise your potential)
Graham Coutts, 30th June 2017