The Songwriting Charity is proud to have played a part in a transatlantic inclusion project. Facilitated by teacher (and friend of the Songwriting Charity) Jonathan Carnaroli who was interviewed extensively by local media covering the winners of the Community Living Algoma Inclusion Project, St. John’s Catholic School Grade Six and Seven students, won an iPad for an inclusivity-themed music video which was co-written with Gretton Primary School children in England. Gretton Primary School is one of the Songwriting Charity’s newest school partners and is working closely with our Director of Programmes Ben O’Sullivan who is leading our programme development and expansion in the South West.
“Throughout my career, I have always been an advocate of teaching with technology because of its ability to capture student interest when used effectively. Having been a bit of a novice in the Apple world at the time, however, programs like iMovie and Garage Band were rarely used in my classes; in fact, they weren’t even on my “shortcuts” dock.
During my two years as a Key Stage 2 teacher at Parsloes Primary School in England, all of that changed. I had the pleasure of working with Ben O’Sullivan on a few basic projects that involved music composition and film editing. Ben started me off small, showing me how to create iMovie trailers and edit existing audio files in Garage Band. Once I became comfortable with the software, I began working alongside Ben and Toby on larger projects.
Ever since my return from England in August 2012, I have wanted to facilitate a “Trans-Atlantic project” like this and the perfect opportunity arose in the form of a contest. In February, a local organization called Community Living Algoma challenged students in various schools to demonstrate “Inclusion” through a poster, song, dance, or music video. BAM! I suggested to my students that we create a music video with students from England and they obviously loved the idea.
The creativity started flowing in the Grade 6/7 classroom and within a few days, we were sending our lyrics and beat to our “co-producers” at Gretton Primary School (UK). The final product was incredible. The students on both sides of the Atlantic were buzzing about this project, as well as the teachers and parents who witnessed the process and product. In my city (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario), this project was broadcasted by local news channels and radio stations. Our Grade 6/7 class won the iPad, which was the grand prize in the contest. But the real prize, without trying to sound too “cheesy”, was how the whole idea of inclusion was encompassed and brought to life through this project.
The Grade 6/7 students at St. John are so proud of their work and feel like superstars because children in England know the lyrics to their song… in fact… children in England wrote one of the verses! When does something like this ever happen? Not often enough obviously. The students on both sides have had an opportunity to collaborate with people from another continent, with whom they would never have had the opportunity to speak. They have built relationships to a certain extent with these students. They’ve shared thoughts and feelings, and they’ve engaged together in a creative process that has produced something astonishing. When people watch this music video, their jaws drop. It’s something special because it’s real – it’s from the heart – it’s not a “Canadian” song or a “British” song. It’s a song by young people who share a common interest. When we watch this video, we see how alike we all really are, regardless of gender, race and culture.
I can’t say enough about the positive impact this project has had on the students in Grade 6/7 and the entire school… and perhaps even on the community as a whole. I look forward to facilitating more projects like this in the future and keeping the lines of communication open. The possibilities are truly endless.”