The Songwriting Charity’s Songwriters Choir programme in the Cotswolds is only the second one of its kind in the country. The project is led by a core of 20 primary school participants from Isboune Valley Primary School, who write the songs. The Isbourne Valley young songwriters will then introduce their work to their older peers at Winchcombe making up the rest of the choir. ‘Distant Stars’ is one of many wonderful, uplifting and inspiring songs and performances delivered by the Songwriting Choir.
Thank you Jacqueline Kench for contributing this month’s guest blog about her experience with the Songwriting Charity.
“I’m a Primary School Music Teacher. There aren’t many of us around. I teach only music, in a large Primary School in Bracknell, Berkshire.
In recent months at school, children had been coming to me at lunchtimes having written their own songs. I am fortunate enough to have time each week with a small group of Gifted and Talented children, and had given them enough knowledge about chords for them to write their own songs. One song in particular stood out, and I met with the 9 year old girl who had composed it in a recording studio over the summer to get the track down. You can listen to it at https://soundcloud.com/jacqui-kench/summer-song . It was a fantastic experience for the girl, and gave me a real glimpse into how much children can achieve.
I’ve recently discovered the delights of Twitter. I say recently, actually this was my fifth attempt at ‘getting Twitter’. Anyhow I got Twitter, and found The Songwriting Charity. I was immediately interested, as I am a songwriter myself, and got in touch.
So it was through Tweets and phone calls that I managed to get The Songwriting Charity into my school. They managed to secure some funding (from a company sponsor called Itper), which meant there was no cost to us as a school.
I decided to use the group of Gifted and Talented children, as it is a 2-form entry school it wouldn’t have worked to just choose one class. This way, some children from Years 4-6 all got to participate. And they were rather excited about the prospect of missing normal lessons for the day!
So one Friday in September, Ben O’Sullivan and Kat Marsh came to Wooden Hill Primary. The theme of the songwriting workshop was bullying. The children worked in groups to brainstorm ideas and thoughts about bullying. Kat showed the children how to turn their ideas into lyrics and melodies. The main chorus was ‘Run away, from the violence, run away to get some silence’.
The groups practiced their part until it was time for Ben to record it. One boy can play the djembe (African drum) really well, and his beat was used as the main rhythm of the song. Ben added more drums and keyboard. I have an excellent beat boxer in Year 6, and we made sure his talents were able to shine in the song. Another child loves to rap, and had written a rap section in a matter of minutes! One child was reluctant to work in a group, so we worked with her at lunchtime to record her section, ensuring everyone took part. Ben said he got goosebumps when recording her part, and that is what it’s all about.
Once all the parts of the song had been recorded, Ben started to mix them together to create the perfect song. While he was doing this, Kat and I took the children outside to film some scenes for the music video. The children of course loved this bit!
We only had to wait a matter of hours for the song to be finished and put online onto Soundcloud. Within a few hours the number of people who had listened to it was reaching a hundred. I emailed all the staff and made sure they listened to it too! You can listen to it at https://soundcloud.com/the-songwriting-charity/wooden-hill-primary-runaway
Monday morning it was played in assembly to the whole school, and the children involved stood at the front and were awarded certificates. Only a few days later, the music video was uploaded to YouTube, and it was amazing to watch. I cried!
The video was shown in assembly, by which time most of the children had listened to it so often they sang along to most of it. It is very catchy, and the children as so proud of what they have achieved. It has raised the whole morale of the school.
Since that day, the YouTube video view count is well over a thousand. The children appeared in the local paper, and spoke on BBC Radio Berkshire. I have plans for the song to reach far and wide, as at the end of the day, its message is what’s important.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in the Songwriting Charity, especially Ben and Kat. I know I will keep in touch with the charity and would love to help where I can. They do an amazing job and change children’s lives through music.”
Follow Jacqueline Kench on Twitter: @inspectorMuso
Follow us: @SWCharity
Saturday 26th July 2014 will mark the Songwriting Charity’s third anniversary. Three years old and counting! No fancy party, no reception, no gatherings and no hospitality on offer…….
Instead, you can make our day and celebrate this milestone with us in the time honoured Songwriting Charity tradition of the cake eating, cake posing, posing with a cake, cake only, freshly baked (bought) cake selfie! One day we will throw a real world party and probably have a cake-off or something similar and you’ll all be invited. Till then, please indulge yourselves in some cake-baking malarkey and share your cake-selfie with us by tweeting @SWCharity or posting on our FB Page.
Last year we had 22 cake photos from our wonderful and cherished friends and family.
Donor, relative, supporter, shopper/Giver, relative, a parent of a child we have worked with, or a teacher in a school we have visited – you’re all friends and family, and we want all of you to get involved and celebrate not just our third anniversary, but also the achievements of thousands of brave and courageous young songwriters who put their heart and soul into every verse, chorus and piece of music created in the last three years.
If you have any trouble sharing your cake pictures via the usual social media suspects, just email them to John Quinn and he’ll get them online for you.
The Songwriting Charity
‘This has been the most exciting, stimulating, rich and rewarding day which all young people should be encouraged to enjoy. This day will be remembered for a life-time, reflecting that education should be a dance to great music’.
A teacher’s comment following a Bully Beat PACS workshop in Essex yesterday.
Listen to some of the songs that have been written by children participating in the Positive Assertive Confidence Skills programme in Essex: https://soundcloud.com/the-songwriting-charity/sets/pacs-essexcc-kidscape
This feedback was offered after one of our Bully Beat workshops in the Swale district of Kent. Bully Beat has been designed to enthuse primary aged children about the process of lyric writing, singing, music arranging and contemporary production whilst promoting a serious anti-bullying message. We’re using informal music education and literacy working to communicate a range of key messages. Every song is written by the children. We record, produce and publish the songs at the end of the process.
The Swale Bully Beat project is generously supported by the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust and First Class Business Solutions. With their support we are providing 30 anti-bullying songwriting workshops to primary settings across the district in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.
PROJECT K 2014 – in loving memory of my sister Kate.
Who would be interested in supporting the work of The Songwriting Charity by getting involved in this?
It’s about you spending time with loved ones – taking them for a walk (simple or challenging) and raising as much money as possible to help us provide fully engaging one day songwriting workshops for children all over the UK.
We will support you by setting up your fundraising page and giving you some tips on how to raise money and will be on hand every step of the way to answer any questions you may have…
There is no fee to enter and no minimum fundraising amount – you can get involved easily!
Just like this post or comment, leave a message, send me an email, or speak to me in person or contact me via carrier pigeon and I’ll send you some further information.
Let’s put the ‘fun’ back into ‘fundraising’!
A beautiful and very emotive song written by a small group of children from across year groups at Highfield Primary School, Enfield. Thank you to Ms Genia Fussco and the children for a truly memorable day. Such a lovely song, one that resonates on a many levels.
Our work in Enfield is made possible by the support of the Enfield Music Service. Thank you to Mea Jenkins and Kim Hember for their encouragement and financial support. The Enfield Music Service, making music make a difference in partnership with The Songwriting Charity.