They have created rock’s greatest cutting-edge masterpieces. Now legendary producer Brian Eno and Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien will teach their skills to music students in a unique series of video masterclasses.
The rock innovators, along with award-winning Fleabag composer Isobel Waller-Bridge and composer and saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, hope to fill a gap in music tuition in schools for teenagers with their online lessons.
The free Ear Opener tutorials, available now on YouTube, promise to shake up the traditional music class. The lessons focus on creativity and “demystifying the process of writing music”. Pupils don’t need to understand music theory or notation.
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It’s a fitting approach given the tutors’ reputation for pushing experimentation to its limits. Eno, the father of “ambient” music and co-producer of David Bowie’s Heroes, would give musicians “oblique strategies” cards with instructions to help them overcome creative block.
After their landmark OK Computer album, Radiohead embraced avant-garde electronica on its follow-up, Kid A.
The video lessons include “27 mistakes to avoid in music exam composition” – “just putting notes together that sound good” is one failing to avoid – and “dealing with feedback.”
O’Brien discloses that most ideas put up band members are rejected in a process which can be “brutal.” He adds: “There’s no such thing as a bad idea. An idea that doesn’t work is necessary for the next idea that does work to succeed.”
Baroque to hip-hop
Eno, co-producer of U2’s The Joshua Tree, tells students, “the only feedback I want is unrestrained adulation” when he’s in the process of creating a piece of music.
“My main quality as a producer is I’m very opinionated and very enthusiastic,” he adds.
There are 20 videos in the Ear Opener series, aimed at 14-to-20-year-olds seeking to compose in styles from hip-hop to baroque. Tutors include composer Errollyn Wallen, whose “bluesy” interpretation of Jerusalem prompted controversy at the Last Night of the Proms.
Paul Clark, composer and Clod Ensemble co-artistic director, who devised the lessons, said: “With huge cuts to education budgets and radical changes to the place of music in the curriculum, it’s essential that we support young people from all backgrounds to become the next generation of inspiring musicians, composers and listeners.”