6 Dec 2011


In March 2012, James Laizer, a Maasai conservationist from Tanzania, and Huw Crompton, a leading advocate of fairly harvested hardwoods for musical instruments, will be visiting music colleges and schools to talk about the role that musicians play in preserving valuable tonewoods and delivering sustainable development for some of the world’s poorest people.

African blackwood is the primary component in many woodwind instruments including clarinets, oboes, flutes and recorders. The species is under severe threat due to over-exploitation almost entirely for the music industry.

However, a pioneering project in Tanzania has given communities ownership of the forest and they are now managing the resource in a sustainable way whilst also earning money to pay for community development including clean water systems and healthcare facilities.

During Music and Sustainability, James and Huw will demonstrate how this project is making a huge difference to the lives of people in Africa and explain the  role that musicians play in sustainable development and the preservation of forests.

Available dates:
12th – 16th March 2012
19th – 23rd March 2012

Feedback on previous Sound & Fair music colleges visits

Belinda Gough, Head of Woodwind, Chethams School of Music: “The presentation was wonderful. It provided our students with engaging ideas and clearer understanding of the context of the changing world we live in and that taking individual responsibility is paramount.

“It was such a treat to meet James Laizer, whose message was poignant. To think that our instruments have the potential to provide communities with the things we take for granted, such as a midwife and clean water, is something quite special.”


Music and Sustainability – National Curriculum connections

Music and Sustainability provides an opportunity for students to learn through the cross-curricular Global Dimension and Sustainable Development aspect of the National Curriculum. Our assembly presentations and workshops raise awareness about the global trade that is intrinsic to musical instrument manufacturing and the challenges of ensuring both Fair Trade and the responsible management of forests.

Assembly presentation / introduction to Music and Sustainability (20-40mins)
Students will hear the distinctive voices of different woodwind instruments and see images of the stunning trees that provide the timber for their manufacture. Students will learn about the qualities of different woods that make them suitable for different parts of musical instruments and where this timber originates from. With group participation, our presenters will draw young people into seeking answers to the following questions: Why are modern woodwind instruments made from tropical timbers? Can this wood be harvested in a sustainable way? How can local villagers benefit from selling the wood they responsibly cut down? What can young musicians do to support sustainable development?

Workshop 1: African forest management role play workshop (20 mins)
After a briefing from an African forest manager, the group divides into groups of five and within each group, students take on the role of: timber merchant, village chief, midwife, lumberjack, and politician. Each group debates the issues and considers
change from the point of view of their allocated roles. A spokesperson from each group reports back their debate and students compare the different results from each group, finding that balancing interests is far from straightforward.

Workshop 2: musical timbers, properties, uses and qualities (up to 40mins)
During this hands-on workshop, students consider the properties of a variety of different woods – in particular the wood used to make the musical instruments they are familiar with, handling, describing and responding to the wood. Students experiment with the wood to find out how dense it is. Using a map of the world, they find each wood’s country of origin and consider the impact harvesting may have on local communities and ecosystems.

Workshop 3: mind maps for the trees that make music (up to 40 mins)
Students draw out mind map diagrams for the trees that make an instrument. For instruments made of many trees, such as the string family and piano, the mind map is complex, and students are able to make links between instruments, and understand the unexpected and conflicting interactions that they find around the edges of their mind maps.

Learning outcomes

Students are able to:
• Describe different perspectives and debate the challenges of Fair Trade and sustainable forest management;
• Develop critical skills to analyse the political and social causes of destructive forest clearance;
• Make links between music, geography and citizenship in terms of how musical instruments are manufactured
and at what cost to global natural resources;
• Develop their cultural understanding of the development of modern musical instruments.