Paganel School “Home Week” Final Performance

It’s over and done with! The performances at the school were great, I was impressed with how well the classes did and the headteacher said the performances were fantastic! What really made our job easier was the support from the teachers, who had rehearsed the songs and staging during the week, how lovely!

We were able to add the finishing touches to the pieces, could offer year 4 a good hour and a half to refine their hard work, year 3 (in my opinion) were pretty much ready to go on stage before we arrived, they knew what we were doing and gave us advice!

Many thanks to teachers Mr. Harwood, Mrs. Wilson, Mr. Philp and the head! Also to the musicians for adding an extra dimension to the performances and of course to Chris for being ace and easy to work with.

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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Paganel Home Week Project

Today was the first of our “home week” sessions at Paganel school, and it was the first time I worked with Chris Bishop from BXL, who is a drama practitioner. This morning we worked with year 3, a lovely bunch of young people, with great ideas. We started with some icebreakers, bonding exercises, trying to learn names, although both Chris and I have confessed we are awful at this so name badges next week are a must!

As part of a reflection for the project we have to blog about our experiences, I normally reflect during certain milestones of a project,; (beginning, middle, end) so this process is new, but should be fine.

In retrospect, both Chris and I felt the session went well, we were able to create a buzz about the ‘home’ themed project, demonstrating the theme by bringing in realia; my items from home were; a Sainsbury’s shopping bag, photo of my family, and headphones. It was cool to get the young people guessing their significance, especially the shopping bag. We were concerned about the year 3s ability to think in more abstract terms about what ‘home’ signified, but some were able to do this, rather than just getting geographical and literal interpretations, some delved into the emotional side, and some the plain weird; dinosaurs!?! Chris brought in some of his late grandfather’s war medals which was really great for the participants to see, they had lots of curious questions.

We had limited time to get young people making drama and music performances, but in ten mins our 2 groups shared a performance based on their ideas of what home was. My group, explored the sounds of sisters, which included moaning, and chatting, fused with body percussion. I was impressed at how readily my group were to share their work and the feedback both groups gave was good; (initially one word answers), but I reckon once they get used to the process, we’ll get more specifics in their answers.

Chris’ group did freeze frames based on a story one of the young people shared about a dog that nearly got run over.

I think it was a successful start, the theme of the project and aims are known, although we had less time to work on devising performance work/ideas, we were able to produce something.

Year 4s session went really well too! Great answers, energy and was impressed with form tutor Dave leading the musical performance with some excellent conducting skills. He rose to the challenge, although nervous. Feedback was good, looking forward to next week!