What encouraging people to play and sing at any level can do

Learn to listen. Learn to live in the present. Learn to work and play in a team. Learn to take responsibility.

Be enabled by rhythm. Work hard and intensively to prepare for a performance. Experience the release of stress.

Communicate with intention, with structure, with meaning. Enjoy meaningful silence. Be aware of space, time, distance, proximity.

Improvise. Repeat imaginatively. Aim not to please but to affect and instigate change.

Be exhilarated by doing it skilfully on your own in the context of a group. Feel the joy of live performance.

Agree to play the game on equal terms. Tell stories entertainingly. Know you are immediately interesting. Know you are urged to succeed.

Claims made on behalf of music are many and varied. Those listed above are a spontaneous list drawn from my experience as a performer and teacher. I could also have said that extensive research has proved that music improves brain function, promotes sociability, reduces physical pain, gives personal confidence. The list, frankly, is endless.

As Artistic Director of the newly created Grange Festival, I am determined that our work can and must increasingly aspire to many of the ideals above in as wide a horizon of environments as possible. I want to establish long-term collaborations with primary and secondary schools, colleges, adult education centres, care homes, mental health units, prisons, hospitals, hospices, homeless centres, churches and many other appropriate arenas where live engagement through music can find those who don’t necessary believe (yet!) in the community-building power music has.

In my work as a singer I have performed in all of those places listed above: it is never easy or obvious. Communication can be elusive. But if the first two claims at the top of this page can be even partially achieved, it is definitely worth the effort.

The Grange Festival is principally a summer opera festival, but its work and its reach will extend throughout the year. I intend to offer performance and outreach opportunities to young professionals, guided by experienced mentors.

Michael Chance