Respek Vanley: Music Workshops 2 and 3 plus updates

Today’s workshop was great! 4 sessions to go before the big day!
There is no shortage of energy with this group, loads of personalities and ideas. I’d definitely describe this group as like an over-excited puppy, wanting to greet every passer-by with a nuzzle.

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There may be some hope for music education after all

I’m sceptical about Cameron’s flagship Big Society plans.

In this age of austerity I fear for  the future of participatory arts and creative learning programmes in schools, those who rely on subsidised music provision will suffer. There is no way a love child of New Labour is going to survive the coalition’s cuts – I thought, but then I read this, (a repeat call for a music manifesto-esque study into music provision for young people, so I’ve been told). Maybe there is a glimmer of hope after all. We shall see.

Paganel Home Week Project Session 4

I am shattered! These all dayers have taken their toll on my ‘approaching end of summer term’ bones.

Today’s session was good, fast paced, pressurised and exceptionally creative. It was our last session and we invited musicians Steve (djembe) and Michael (sax/flute). With year 3 we were able to put the finishes touches on the performance, move it over to the stage (which was something we were hoping to avoid initially but can’t). The year 3s were really good at instructing the musicians to fill out the accompanying music. It was great to see their compositional skills begin to blossom.

Year 4’s session, for me was more stressful, not because the young people weren’t great, they were and always have been, but because I was disappointed I couldn’t recall the piano part for the dog song – should have written it down, and that we still have some finishing touches to add next week, I hoped that like the year 3 session we could make more headways, but alas was not meant to be. Last minute dot.com so it is! I also felt guilty that I wasn’t able to utilise the musicians enough in that session, as we spent most the time devising last bits and bobs.

As Chris and Michael pointed out, the year 4 session itself was successful for a number of reasons,  the interminable enthusiasm from Mr. Harwood, who has volunteered to help us with the last drama part of the performance, the young people’s song writing, lyric writing skills getting stronger and the fact that everyone is committed to being a part of it all!

Michael, noted that the session had a huge emphasis on the young people’s creativity, which is great, because I’d rather more ideas from the young people and a slightly less polished performance, than me writing it all, and it appearing glossy, but less input from the children.

Fingers and toes crossed for our memory banks next week!

A groove we made up with year 4, it’s all about clouds: 

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Steve and I singing the year 3 song, so they can have it memorised for next week, there’s a reason why Steve and I aren’t singers, obvious in the recording, but someone has to do it!!

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Here you go year 3!!

Paganel Home Week Project Session 3

Today was the third session at Paganel school, the pressure was on to move the sketches/ short vignettes into something more meaningful and framed. After a quick warmer and explaining to the groups the skills we needed from them to take this forward (concentration, imagination, sharing of ideas and an openness to them), we shared again the sketches and asked young people from both groups how they’d piece them together, fusing the drama and music. We had some fantastic suggestions, year 3 in the morning had bundles of ideas, year 4 shared some amazing ideas too!

I found a lonely looking metallophone in the store room, tuned it to a minor scale so we could create dream like sounds. Has a really sonorous sound, really mellow, perfect for our opening scene.

Both year 3 and 4 teachers said they enjoyed the sessions, Ms. Wilson said she liked seeing how we made headways and I sense more comfortable about what the performance will look like. I tried loads to get Mr. Harwood leading the musicians, but due to time limitations and the complexity of the kids ideas, had to take over leading. I am really keen to play piano as well as getting the young people playing, but the need a strong pulse, maybe with the addition of musicians on Thursday it will allow for this. Highlight was writing a chorus and verse in 15 mins, it went well, Chris has displayed some excellent lyric writing skills. (A published poet didn’t you know?).

In terms of working in partnership with Chris, I feel it’s going really well, both have similar tricks up the sleeve and give one another space to lead, as well as opportunities to jump in with suggestions.

Paganel Home Week Project Session 2

Chris and I returned to Paganel School to facilitate the second round of music and drama sessions. After today we have 2 sessions left to have material devised and rehearsed! The aim was to have local members of the community come in and be interviewed about their relationship with Weoley Castle and home. We got young people to devise questions about ‘home and identity’ and then to interview our guests.We had two dinner ‘people’  and students who arrived to the school at a later period be our interviewees. The young people asked some very interesting questions, moving from the geographical/’what can you see?’ questions, to more abstract; feelings about home.

The sessions were both successful, we were limited again in time as we had two assemblies that took off half an hour of time, but we got the backbone of devising drama and music performances; we always share at the end. I really enjoyed facilitating the dog song sketch; written in just 10 mins inspired by a tale of being unfortunate with pets (Chris and I became interviewees in the afternoon, I spoke about accidentally killing goldfish as a child, rottweilers etc). Props to Mr Harwood for the conducting and counting in! It’s great to see our year 4 teacher is gaining more confidence in leading, it would be great to work with staff and develop their ensemble leading, I think they are naturals!!  

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