Many thanks to Joan Wright PMC [primary music consultant], who attended this years Creative Arts Day and has reviewed the day in full. It was such a great review, we thought it should be shared (with bells and whistles)!
‘On Tuesday 28th April students and staff from schools across Hertfordshire arrived on a beautiful sunny day in Hatfield to take part in a Creative Arts Day at Mid Herts Centre for Music and Arts, hosted by Judy Manning and members of the “Funky Pie” team from Hertfordshire Music Service and compared by Will Gowing from QVC. TV .
The day began began with students and staff from Breakspeare, Lakeside, Larwood, Brandles, Lonsdale and Southfield schools in Hertfordshire, gathered in the hall together for a performance of stories that had been previously created as part of a “circus ” workshop” with Lakeside, Breakspeare and Larwood schools
The characters and plot of the story had been created by the students and described a visit to the circus underneath the Big Top. The audience listened with great attention and were excited when an individual student recognised an event or a character in the story that was his or her idea; nodding appreciation, stamping feet and clapping their friends. The students interacted with the story teller in a call and response rhyme “When I say crick, you say crack- crick crack crick crack lets bring the story back” At the end of the story the students were invited to come to the front of the hall and show their pipe cleaner and fabric puppets that they had created as part of the workshop to represent their individual circus characters.
They were extremely proud to show their creations and were keen to discuss their individual characters. The atmosphere was a positive celebration of pride in their achievements, with smiles, applause and indeed a few ” yessss” when students were named and teachers praised their work.
The celebration then featured two individual performances by Sian and Chris.
Sian performed a violin duet with Judy, first being able to name the parts of the violin, playing pizzicato on the strings and holding the bow correctly at the”Frog”. She then watched Judy intently in order to follow the musical cues that were given. She was extremely focused, listening to Judy whilst maintaining her own individual part as an accompaniment to the Folk Song. She demonstrated a great deal of skill in following Judy’s lead, starting and stopping at the appropriate time, recognising and trying to maintain a crotchet and quaver ostinato pattern throughout the performance and maintaining eye contact with Judy in order to finish at the appropriate place. Following her performance which was enjoyed and warmly received by the audience Sian then answered questions where she admitted that she felt nervous before her performance and that her tummy ” felt funny” but that she felt ” good” and proud of her achievement.
The second performance was a computer generated composition by Chris created with an ICT software package called Garage Band. This unique composition called ” Glitches” was based on glitches in computer games and Chris displayed great technical skill in combining the elements of sequencing speech, vocal timbre, rhythm and melodic motifs to create a complex composition.
Following the performance, Chris was then interviewed by Will Gowing and explained in great detail to the audience how he had created his composition and explained with eloquence the technical elements on which his initial ideas were based.
The organisation of the day then followed a series of “carousel” workshops of Djembe drumming, dance and percussion, song writing and puppet making in an atmosphere that celebrated success and appreciation of achievements but groups and individual.
During one Djembe workshop a group created a “Soundscape” composition about the weather using suggestions of weather ideas from the class and with the whole structure of the composition being suggested by Gemma. Each idea of sunshine, thunder and lightening was interpreted as a musical idea by the class with students demonstrating ways in which each idea could be represented as a sound on the Djembe. The structure was revised, rehearsed and then performed as a whole, with the students able to recall each element in turn and producing a composition that culminated in a “pot of gold ” at the end of the rainbow
Staff supported the students throughout- gently suggesting ideas and ways of creating the sounds using the Djembes but at all times using the students own ideas to produce a group performance. Though watching the group leaders students were able to explore musical elements of starting and stopping, the exploration of dynamics of loud and quiet, tempo in fast and slow and watching a conductor.
During the dance and percussion workshop the students gathered into a large circle in the hall using a large fabric “scrunchie” Students held the scrunchie and moved in time to a Timpani beat, responding the changes in tempo by marching faster or slower whilst being encouraged to “lift their knees” and move on tip toes. They then followed a sequence of movements, raising and lowering the scrunchie and moving forwards and backwards in response to the phrases of the musical sequences, repeating and rehearsing the steps.
Having responded to the percussion sequences using movement this was then translated to a percussion workshop whereby students were invited to choose from a selection of orchestral Timpani set out in the hall .A bass line 4/4 beat was indicated by the teacher upon which different percussion sounds were layered by students to create a rhythmic sequence. Students were encouraged to watch the conductor and play in time , watching and listening to each individual percussion instrument and section as a whole.
The song writing workshop typically began with an introduction of 3 pre recorded drum beats to which the students listened and then voted for their favourite rhythm pattern. They then listened to three different major and minor chord progressions to decide which would form the basis of the harmonic structure of the song.
Comments and ideas were notated by staff and students then chose to play either drums, guitar, keyboard or to work with lyrics in order to create a “song”. After 10 minutes the students were invited to demonstrate to the group their ideas and perform them individually. In one workshop and using the comments, quotations, reflections about the harmonies a title was suggested of ” Turn on the radio” and an idea was suggested by Jasmine as to the content of the song ” of a girl leaving home to go to a new foster home and the brother being left behind” ,The lyrics were a compilation of all of these ideas
Having read out the lyrics they were performed as a rap with the suggestion C C#D E chord sequence underneath . Josh came over to also work with the lyricist and added a melody to the section as the song continued to be built up in layers finally adding a drum beat using the kit.
The students were extremely proud of the song, indeed so much so that they were insistent that it be performed repeated to accompanying members of staff.
As it was such a beautiful sunny day, lunch time typically consisted of a “picnic” on the grass or sitting in the courtyard enjoying the company of friends and colleagues for other schools, sharing ideas, experiences and sandwiches! On completion of the workshops, we all viewed the visual art installation and were treated to a live performance by Atmosphere and a couple of tracks from their latest album out in July. This was followed by “well dones” and “thanks you” to the staff and students involved -tired, happy but more importantly, very proud of what we had all achieved and shared with each other.
WOW, what a day!’