From 2018 to 2020 I worked as part of a team of music specialists as a music education consultant (in singing and song writing) working in schools, specialist education and secure NHS settings creating songs and music with children and young people. Once the songwriting and musical composition process was complete we then worked alongside them, supporting the young people as they worked with a art therapist and artist to create animations and films to accompany our musical compositons. In January 2020 at the end of project we held a performance sharing event at Sage Gateshead (one of the partners in the project) and some of the schools who participated joined us to perform their compositons live and the films created as part of the project were also screened.
Delivering and participating in this project was an inspiring experience in which I developed skills, deepened my understanding and gained invaluable insight into working with young people in a range of settings. This built upon my previous work practice and experience and allowed opportunity to collaborate with other practitioners. The strength, resilience, energy and creativity I witnessed - often in spite of and in stark contrast to the huge challenges many participants faced - was hugely humbling and inspiring. I enjoyed working one-to-one with some of the more vulnerable young people, supporting them as we created and composed music together, overcoming various challenges and barriers together and collabrating with them to make music they were proud of.
Working with the school children (and their wonderful support staff) was a joy; their energy, enthusiasm, passion and excitement were contagious and I had great fun throughout our music and arts sessions. The project also gave opportunity to work as part of a dynamic and diverse team; our contrasting skills, experience and expertise enriching and extending the project's reach.
I worked with the wonderful Wylam First School as part of a 'singer-songwriter residency' for Wylam Winter Tales Festival in 2017, reprising the music and performing with some of the young songwriters again as part of the festival in 2019.
I worked with two groups; years one and two to compose and create 'The Wylam Wassail' and with years three and four to create the barnstomping 'The Wylam Rocket'. Both songs were devised during big group songwriting sessions in school. They were created in collaboration with the children and the result of discussion, musical exploration and play.
It was wonderful to work with such a warm and welcoming school. The wonderful staff and students alike were a joy to work with and I am so proud that we created two
wonderful songs together. I also composed a piece especially for our live performance event: The 'Wylam Winter's Tale' (see below for lyrics to the songs).
I was asked to go back and perform the songs with the children again in 2019, as part of the 2019 WWT Festival, and this provided a very special opportunity to work
with the children again and revist the music we created together. Huge thanks to Wylam Winter Tales Festival for inviting me to be part of their fantastic festival, which provides a crucial
cultural beacon for this rural Northumberland community, shining a creative light in the deepest, darkest depths of winter.
In early 2016 I was commissioned to create a springtime festival of song: Big Sing in Spring. I worked with FIFTEEN schools and one nursery, through Bishop Aukland, Durham and had the joy of working with a huge range of children aged between 2 - 11 years old. I visiting different classes to teach them music and songs with signs, actions and movements. We explored song, music and movement from around the world, exploring manycountries, languages, cultures and practice. We learned actions and signs and stories behind the songs. Exploring the themes of 'rebirth, renewal and springtime' I created and suorced resources and instructions to make recycled instruments, bringing new life to household rubbish and creating many wild and wonderful percussion instruments which we then used to accompany our songs. The project culminated in a mass performance over over 400 students, at Bishop Aukland Methodist Church.
(See below for photographs of our very colourful musical creations!)
Feedback from education staff and teachers:
Working throughout 12 Bishop Aukland schools, alongside a team of wonderful artists: a dancer, photographer, textile artist and storyteller, we created a festival celebrating and sharing over 100 years of British Culture.
As part of my work I created bespoke music education resources exploring the changes to music and popular culture through the decades, including musical arrangements of popular songs, an interactive participatory music quiz and BSL signs and actions to enable the inclusion of children of all abilities and learning styles.
The project culminated in a mass performance sharing event at Bishop Aukland Castle at the end of June 2016, with children performing songs, stories and dance
following an intense morning of back to back workshops with 12 schools! A huge achievement for all involved and one that still evokes such positive memories.
During the summer term of 2015, I worked with classes in 15 schools throughout Bishop Aukland. Working as one of a team of four artists, we worked
collaboratively contrasting our own chosen mediums of music*, dance, photography and storytelling to explore the history of British folk cultures and the complex idea of 'British Values'.
Utilising my passion (skills and training) in traditional folk culture, I taught the children a range of folk music from the UK and the further afield the British diaspora, exploring and
celebrating our eclectic culture and heritage.
As part of my work with Journey to Justice North East, I devised and delivered a community music participatory project delivered 'Sing for Social Justice' in local Durham and Newcastle schools. During the project the students explored human rights, civil rights, democratic rights and the use of music and song as tool to protest and campaign. We created wonderful musical materials, poetry and songs (some of which I still sing today with NESS! (North East Socialist Singers). We used these works to highlight a range of social and economic problems, identified by the students during discussion and exploration of local, national and world new, views, politics and free thinking.
Coincidentally (and of huge interest and reflection to me as I look back) the main issues raised by the children as themes to include in their songwriting
compositions were the same three issues highlighted and stated by Martin Luther King during his acceptance speech at Newcastle University in 1967, the problems
Also highlighted by the students were the issues of:
I was somewhat taken aback by the depth of knowlege and understanding of such adult themes and issues, but the children, once asked were a t was a wonderful experience working with the children, sharing our stories, thoughts and ideas and learning about their views on the world and the issues most prevalent to them.
A film documentary of the project can be found beneath here, audio recordIngs of our compositions can be found HERE and examples of lyrics are in the gallery below...