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Getting to Know Bobbie-Jane Gardner

June 14, 2017

Category: Blog posts Ward:

Up next in our series looking at the people behind for-Wards in year one is the creative director of the project herself, Bobbie-Jane Gardner.

But that isn’t all there is to Bobbie. As well as directing for-Wards, she is also the Selly Oak district composer! Having recently completed a Master’s degree in music composition at Birmingham Conservatoire under Joe Cutler and Michael Wolters, Bobbie certainly has all the necessary skills to compose Selly Oak-inspired music. Her reputation as a pianist is sterling, having performed with an array of bands and ensembles within several music genres, including with Dubstep producers Dusk and Blackdown and Heart n Soul’s Lizzie Emeh. Orchestrating, arranging, remixing – Bobbie has a broad compositional skill set.

Of course, as we all know, for-Wards has represented a new challenge for many of the involved composers. We spoke to Bobbie about her experiences within the Selly Oak district and working with the community groups who live there.

“My experience of collaborating with communities to write music inspired by Selly Oak district has been fun, challenging, busy, and a wonderful learning experience.

I’ve worked intensively with each community group from the 4 wards in the district.

Bournville ward:
I’ve co-composed a piece for carillon bells with Crunch creative writers based at The P-Cafe in Stirchley. We will also have some poetry inspired by Bournville ward at our performance. The carillon is unique to Bournville – so we felt it made sense (in a project centred around hyperlocality) to feature an instrument brought in as a gift to the area.

It’s been a real challenge writing for carillon – here’s a cheeky snippet of the piece for you to listen to:


Selly Oak ward:
I’ve worked with year 7 and 8 students to write a piece, essentially a blues piece inspired by tipsy students and the canals we traversed when we went out field recording. The students with support from musicians from the Leap Ensemble have created a lot of material for this piece and my role has been a bit like adding eggs to a dry cake mix. Binding it all together.


Brandwood ward:
With the support of Roche van Tiddens – I’ve worked with elders at Manningford Hall to create a piece which is inspired by three things: birds, light and dark. I’ve analysed field recordings and bird song to get rhythms and chord progressions that make up the piece.


Billesley ward:
Working with my year 5 collaborators over at Billesley Primary has been so much fun!! We’ve written a piece about community, they’ve written lyrics, melodic motifs that underpin the piece. They perform in it too and I’m hoping that  by next week we’ll be confident in incorporating a musical game into the piece as well.

This is the a little snippet of the Billesley piece written together with year 5 students.


I’ve learnt to trust, stay open and reflect on my working methods to share the joy of composing with others. My collaborators have given great feedback and it’s been nice to have their support – especially as I’m rubbish at coming up with song titles. If I’d get stuck writing a section I’ve emailed participants or taken snippets along to sessions for help and of course I always come away with new ideas. What joy!!”

Bobbie’s for-Wards performance takes place June 23rd at Bournville Junior School, 6pm. For more details, visit the Facebook event here or click the flyer below.