We recently spoke with Jen O’Brien – Founding Director of Music Broth, an organisation for repairing and upcycling musical instruments in Glasgow – about her organisation, events planned for Climate Fringe Week, and beyond.
How did Music Broth start out?
Music Broth started out in 2017 when a local musician inherited 8 instruments from his late musician uncle and wondered how best to share his legacy. From these early beginnings we established our Music Broth library, which thanks to the generosity of the Glasgow and wider Scotland community, now has over 2000 musical instruments and equipment. Everything from tin whistles to full drum kits! We save musical instruments and equipment from landfill, reuse, restore, and repair them to create a shared library of resources to support anyone wishing to pursue a musical venture; we try to equitably provide instruments, musical learning and performance opportunities, and most of all bring joy!
Tell us a bit more about Music Broth’s projects?
Our library offers affordable memberships for those who can contribute; individuals, bands and organisations, with the income generated supporting our hardship fund for those less able. We support anyone wishing to pursue a musical venture, providing instruments for learners and established musicians alike to take home long-term or short-term, as well allowing for occasional use of unusual instruments, for recording, backline for gigs, PA for events, musical workshops, music tuition, making use of our library space for jamming/rehearsing/videoing, and training and volunteering opportunities. All are welcome.
What is your favourite part about working at Music Broth?
Bringing joy! Supporting people to harness their musical talents, creating equity and opportunity, working with great people, saving and reusing instruments fairly, and learning about unusual musical instruments that arrive in our library and the wonderful stories that go along with them. We have supported young people with additional needs to access skills they didn’t know they had, helped refugees and asylum seekers take instruments home to allow them to express themselves and their stories, and get more involved and make friends locally. We’ve supported fledgling bands to do gigs they might not otherwise have had kit to, helped our volunteers grow in confidence and develop into tutors and mentors. We’ve supported great bands and organisations with affordable equipment for gigs and events to make community coming together happen. There’s immense pride in having kit that you’ve restored working and sounding well. An added bonus is we get to see some fabulous diverse live music whilst working! We have a brilliant team of sessional workers, tutors and volunteers who really pull together to make things happen for people, and this fills me with such pride every time.
What are you hoping to achieve through your Climate Fringe Week event?
Music Broth comes to north Glasgow! We want to share our new second home at the Arts Yard which we are opening for the first time to celebrate Climate Fringe Week! We want to celebrate reuse and community music, bringing you an early afternoon of live music, a music workshop, as well as guitar, ukulele and junkyard drums, up-cycling, and the possibility of signing up for future workshops, and having a look at our new north Glasgow musical library and workshop space. We’re showcasing local artists, with live musical performances from our student showcase of our young learners over lockdown (come and give them some support!) as well as Glasgow artists Life Online, The Maybes and Jenny and Mike. We want to spread the word about what we do and give people the opportunity to get involved in our library, our upcoming workshops and events too.
What are Music Broth’s plans for the future beyond Climate Fringe Week and towards COP26?
We’re reopening our spaces post-COVID, kicking off a series of musical and upcycling workshops across Glasgow (you can sign up on the day at the event, also keep an eye on our social media), and continuing to offer our musical library memberships to support people with their creative and sustainability ideas, and be part of what we do.