Climate change: how music groups can get involved

Making Music’s first climate change network event took place on 8 October 2021, which brought together leisure-time music groups with musicians and campaigners to talk about what we can do to tackle climate change.

It was a successful exchange of ideas and inspiration, and we will be following it up with termly network meetings online. We have created this open resource page to collect ideas, links and useful information. 

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 info@makingmusic.org.uk

Next climate change network event for leisure-time music groups 

February 2022 via Zoom. 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 network event

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

  • 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 

  • 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

  • Musica International is collecting ideas for 'climate' concert repertoire

  • Sing for Earth Day (22 April) is already hatching plans for 2022

Books and info

Travel  

  • This blog, though not at all focused on music-making, has some wonderful resources and ideas for flying less

Organisations and networks

What to do or not do? 

Q&A – some ideas from our networking event 

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 

Are there any good initiatives from instrument manufacturers and those that use natural, raw or sustainable materials rather than plastics?  

  • p bone trumpet 

  • 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 

And more tips.... 

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! 

Challenges

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 info@makingmusic.org.uk, 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.