Making Music’s Climate Change Network brings together leisure-time music groups, musicians and campaigners to discuss what we can do to tackle climate change. We have created this open resource page to collate ideas, links and useful information to help groups play their part.
The categories below may expand or merge in the future and we suggest you look at all of them – we may not have filed information in the way you expect!
This is everyone’s page – to add new items email firstname.lastname@example.org
Next climate change network event for leisure-time music groups
July 2022 - date to be announced. Free to members and non-members but booking is essential. To be the first to be notified when bookings are open, sign up via this form.
Watch the previous events:
Repertoire and events
The Let it Grow website has lots of resources for choirs, bands, schools and individuals
Enough is Enough, a piece of music composed for choirs, street bands and community groups to learn and perform, and join an exciting, collective musical response to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)
Music Declares Emergency is a group of artists, music industry professionals and organisations calling on all those within the industry to join in declaring a climate emergency and to take action - email them
Choirs for Climate has resources for any choirs who are passionate about the environment
Chris Hutchings, composer and creator of Choirs for Climate is interested in collating a list for www.choirsforclimate.com of relevant, existing repertoire for choirs and opera groups on contemporary compositionst, e.g. Noyes Fludde / Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Any other ideas are welcome – email Chris
Liz Hodgson has composed many nature-inspired songs on her website
Play Haydn’s Farewell Symphony and have each orchestra member dressed as an endangered species!
Scottish Classical Music Green Guide 2021: A free guide written by over 30 orchestras, ensembles, and many others, it includes tips on how to reduce carbon emissions in all aspects of artistic work
Sing for Earth Day (22 April) is already hatching plans for 2022
'Cry of the Earth' is a large-scale choral/orchestral piece on the theme of climate change, composed by Tony Biggin. It premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1990. Find out more or order the sheet music
'Change The World Together' is a musical for children (9+) about a young person determined to make a difference in the face of climate change. Find out more here
Books and info
Updated edition of How bad are bananas? The carbon footprint of everything by Mike Berners-Lee, published September 2020:
How to avoid a climate disaster by Bill Gates
There is no planet B by Mike Berners-Lee
Raising awareness about how climate change affects people disproportionately around the world is something that we can all do. UNICEF have some really useful reports on the millions of people displaced every year due to climate changes
This blog, though not at all focused on music-making, has some wonderful resources and ideas for flying less
Organisations and networks
- Music Declares Emergency - campaigning network
- Choirs for Climate - resources and repertoire
- Hope for the Future - national charitable organisation that offers free training for anyone who is interested in engaging with their local MP or Council about climate change
- EcoChurch - resources for churches
- Climate Stewards - resources and carbon calculators for individuals and different size organisations
- Julie's Bicycle - resources - Julie's Bicycle's Creative Green Tools provide some measurement tools
- Carbon Literacy - training for individuals and organisations
- Carbon footprint calculator
- Ecosia - search engine plants trees to offset power used
- SwitchIt - campaigning network
What to do or not do?
Q&A – some ideas from our networking events
Could your group be more digital (using tablets etc instead of paper) - how does the environmental impact of manufacturing and powering tablets/laptops etc compare to printing paper? It seems like a simple switch, but is it actually better for the environment?
If you’re buying a tablet that wouldn’t have been made otherwise, then it’s probably worse, but if you buy a second-hand one and use it then it’s definitely better. Paper has a much higher carbon and environmental impact than people often realise (though there are active efforts in place to make the industry greener).
Here is a helpful list of what your music group can do on the Choirs for Climate website
For material of new uniform items - how easy it is to get either organic cotton or the non-oil alternatives such as viscose and Tencel?
They might be more expensive - an alternative might be having a slightly looser uniform policy eg all black with a dash of red - that way people can wear/personalise what they have/go to charity shops
Uniforms which mean people don’t have to buy new clothing will be more environmentally friendly than any custom clothing choice
Have a black uniform - people can wear anything and just add a splash of colour with jewellery
How can groups reduce their travel carbon footprint?
- Have blended rehearsals so people can use zoom to join an in-person rehearsal - so members could choose to avoid a journey now and then
Take a poll to see how many people will be attending - if it's below a certain number, we change the rehearsal to Zoom
Here are more tips from Orchestras for All on becoming a greener musicians - read them here
Are there any good initiatives from instrument manufacturers and those that use natural, raw or sustainable materials rather than plastics?
Buffet Crampon makes a line of clarinets called Greenline, that is grenadilla wood scraps mixed with glue, to make best use of this rare wood.
Buying secondhand instruments
Do climate themed charity concerts to fundraise for local community causes such as insulating community buildings… like the church hall we rehearse in
Wrapping up warm in ventilated meetings has lower CO2 footprint than fan heaters!
Do you have any solutions to the following challenges that came up at our networking event?
- Making sure you’re not excluding people: e.g. people living with a disability often have no alternative to driving a car to rehearsal, people may feel guilty about flying to visit family.
- Getting back to singing together post-lockdown is proving an environmental challenge. We need to find larger venues, which may no longer be as local, and we need to keep windows open for ventilation (as well as heating on for comfort). How about one rehearsal online, one in person? Sectional rehearsals? blankets? Asking if the venue runs on renewable energy? Getting up and moving around more?
- There’s a difference between offsetting and tree-planting for its own sake, e.g. airlines offer carbon offsetting for your flight, which is barely worth the paper it’s written on, as it consists of planting trees in other countries without much oversight (and potentially increasing the risk of forest fires or soil erosion!).
- Encouraging group members to car share has been challenging - even when they live around the corner from one another! Car sharing at the same time as encouraging social distancing provides a challenge in itself.
- Some things seem illogical: plastic trombones having lower impact than metal, the high number of times you have to use a reusable cup before its impact is lower than a throw away cup. Are there any tips on conversations with people/organisations who think they're being 'climate virtuous' ie by buying a metal trombone instead of plastic?
- As musicians, not scientists, it can be tricky for groups and individuals to know whether we're actually doing the right thing. Taking Carbon Literacy training could help.
This is everyone’s page! To add new ideas, email email@example.com, or sign up to hear about our next climate change network event
We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.