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A New Home for Orchestra 360

By Emma Collins
1 Jan 2022

The move to Sound Rooms has been an incredibly positive change for o360!

new year new home!

In October, orchestra360 (o360) began rehearsing at Sound Rooms a new, purpose-built music space in the city. Sound Rooms has been designed with accessibility and inclusive music-making in mind and it was incredibly exciting to be returning to face-to-face sessions and moving into a new space with our inclusive ensemble.

o360 now regularly attracts over 40 participants – including children and young people with SEND, their parents/carers and siblings. The group places a strong emphasis on using high-quality instruments and equipment to create authentic music experiences and so the move to a state-of-the art rehearsal space was a great fit for us and welcomed by our staff team and young musicians.

Sound Rooms is all on one-level and was designed with plenty of space to allow good access for wheelchair users or anyone with accessibility requirements. The doors operate automatically and all the toilets and facilities are accessible. It is also a really attractive, creative space with excellent sound-proofing. We even have sound-proofed, floating walls which can be moved to make rehearsal spaces larger or smaller, depending on the needs of the group!

Although exciting to move to a new space, we know that big changes of this nature can also be unsettling for some people and so we worked with our members and families to prepare for the move. Sharing information and photographs about Sound Rooms in advance and offering a drop-in morning when young people could visit the venue before our music sessions started were important elements of this process.

Ensuring that we also had familiar touchstones to our previous rehearsal setting was also important. The music leaders thought a lot about o360 routines and familiar music activities that would help make the connection between the two venues for our members. Once in a new space we also had to get used to differently sized and shaped rooms and a whole new acoustic and level of light. Over a number of weeks, we tried arranging o360 in different ways – and have now found the best layout. The excellent acoustic has made it much easier to hear the different instruments and we have already noticed a positive impact on the way that young musicians are able to communicate, listen and respond to each other during sessions.

During the autumn we have really enjoyed getting to know the space and adapting our delivery style to make the most of being at Sound Rooms. Setting up a chill-out zone in the foyer (which has lovely natural light, gorgeous plants and a very funky sofa) has been really useful and having the flexibility to work as one large group or in three smaller groups, which we can move between easily (in terms of people and equipment) has been brilliant! The level of music-making has also benefited, as demonstrated by a lively (and socially-distanced) performance for friends and families in December!

There have been so many changes over the past year, of which many have been challenging. But the move to Sound Rooms has been incredibly positive and o360 is looking forward to more good things in 2022!