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