It’s Time / Best Day of My Life – Balcarras Vocal Project

Balcarras Vocal Project

 
With funding from Make Music Gloucestershire, the county’s music education hub, the Songwriting Charity has partnered with Balcarras School to start a brand new secondary school vocal group. The project has worked with 40 singers from across key stage 3 and 4 singing  well-known repertoire with a twist, with vocal arrangements by Ben O’Sullivan, our Director of Progammes. The debut performance of the vocal group took place at the Balcarras spring concert and below is the video from the memorable recording day at the magical Tithe Barn at Postlip Hall.

We hope this is one of many new vocal projects, joining hands with schools and venues across the county to reach more and more young people.

Please see our website for more, where you can see the many ways in which the Songwriting Charity changes the lives of young people through song and support our work through BT my donate, where every penny of your donation goes towards our work: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/thesongwritingcharity
If you think your school would like to do something similar, please contact ben@songwritingcharity.org
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‘Thinking out Loud’

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Children of Queenborough School and Nursery in Kent miming the Ed Sheeran/Amy Wadge Song ‘Thinking Out Loud’ in a special video tribute, part of a school music project, filmed by Nathan Timothy, CEO of the Songwriting Charity.

Coming with the Light of Kindness

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What is Something Kind?

Something Kind is our newest programme and has been designed in partnership with Gloucestershire Healthy Living & Learning and is generously match funded by The Summerfield Charitable Trust.

The idea behind this programme is to consider anti-bullying from a different angle. Children often tell us that bullying means people are saying unkind things or aren’t nice to one another. Through positive reinforcement and considering the impact that kindness and acts of kindness can have, we’re helping children (and schools) to look at addressing bullying behaviour in a different way. Our key aim is to highlight the mutual benefits of kindness, looking at and measuring how this consideration can boost a child’s confidence and self-esteem, while also facilitating a more caring and supportive environment.

Already 85% of participants think that they will do ‘kind things more often’ With a further 74% saying they think their workshop experience will make children in their class feel more confident about being kind to each other. A further 65% feel proud of their achievements during their workshop, in particular the words they had written that day. The important thing is for children to recognise the power and impact an act of kindness can have on their peers, school community and on them as initiators and receivers of acts of kindness.

Something Kind is the flip side of our Bully Beat coin. Once awareness is established through school based bullying prevention/anti-bullying work, it’s important to help children explore other creative measures to establish and maintain a happy and enriching learning environment. Something Kind workshops provide unique opportunities to experience and offer kindness through songwriting and self-expression.

We’re adding new videos to the Something Kind playlist on YouTube. Have a look at what we’ve done so far right here.

This is what people are saying about Something Kind

“We were having slight problems with a group of Y5 girls asserting their authority somewhat with other girls both in Y5 and Y4. These girls gained a lot form the workshop and it has made them think: the problems have not recurred this term. During and after the day, the pupils were full of the experience. Afterwards, some of the Y5 girls came and asked when it would be used and what for. They were proud that it would form the basis of this term’s assemblies and follow up focus. One of the other girls came quietly and told me that she had really enjoyed the whole experience and felt that she was more ‘in’ with some of the other girls as a result of it.” Jane Attwood, HEAD, Leighterton Primary School

“The box of kindness is made and up and running and looks great! In the end, we got the children to all do a small drawing or write a message and stuck them all over the box so that they had all contributed to it.  They started telling me about acts of kindness they’d witnessed straight away, so that’s great! What’s also been useful is that when we’ve had any minor friendship issues come up, we’re able to reflect back on the workshop and what was discussed and think about if the individuals involved have shown kindness and then use this to resolve problems.” Gemma Rouse, Class Teacher, Gotherington Primary

“Thank you so much for a super day on Friday.  The Year 5 pupils had a wonderful time.  It was a great experience for them and the song sounds great! Thank you also for your assembly which you led at the end of the day – the children loved it and learnt a lot at the same time.” Sally Green, Head, The John Moore Primary School, Tewkesbury

“The team were extremely professional and importantly able to impart knowledge to every child. The end result was one which was completely owned by the children. There are many hidden elements contained within the workshop which can be used as supporting evidence. I feel that this one project would support an Outstanding Ofsted judgement as it covers many of the aspects contained within the SMSC criteria and the criteria for Outstanding.” Ben Jordan, Head, Gotherington Primary

Gotherington Primary School – Kindness is a thing that Makes People Happy

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Celebrating World Kindness Day, The Songwriting Charity is marking this global celebration of kindness with the official launch of the ‘Something Kind’ Primary School programme in Gloucestershire, in partnership with Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning, with generous support from the Summerfield Charitable Trust.

This autumn, to run alongside our hugely successful and impactive “Bully Beat” programme, we are launching the “Something Kind” programme.

Underpinned by a focus on emotional health & wellbeing, the programme seeks to raise confidence levels in those involved and engender strong relationships at secondary level whilst bolstering resilience through transition to secondary school for our primary school participants. We will be working with schools in the most rural communities in Glocuestershire with a range of disadvantage based on numbers of disabled, impoverished and geographically isolated children, ensuring those with least access to the arts are given new opportunities to participate.

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We think of Something Kind as the flip side of our Bully Beat coin. Once awareness is established through school based bullying prevention work, it’s important to help children explore other creative measures to establish and maintain a happy and enriching learning environment. This Something Kind workshops will provide unique opportunities to experience and offer kindness through the magical means of songwriting and self-expression.As always, the Something Kind workshops will leave the wonderful legacy of an original song for the school and the lasting effect of children reaching out to each other to offer kindness.The programme is generously supported by The Summerfield Charitable trust and Gloucestershire Healthy Living & Learning.

Something Kind encourages acts of kindness through songwriting – giving “Kindness” the reputation it deserves.

Guy Fletcher OBE FRSA announced as new patron of The Songwriting Charity

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The Songwriting Charity celebrates a landmark first year by proudly announcing Guy Fletcher OBE FRSA as new Patron

Nathan Timothy, Chief Executive of the Songwriting Charity said, “A year ago, I decided to consolidate my experience in education and the music industry to help children explore their emotions, friendships, hopes and fears, improving their overall sense of wellbeing, through songwriting and musical expression.”

Nathan added, “It was always about opening up opportunities for children who have no access to this level of support or creativity, helping them to achieve and feel valued, boosting their self-esteem and confidence. It’s been an incredible journey!”

Nathan continued, “Almost one year on, it makes me so proud to announce Guy Fletcher OBE FRSA as our patron. Over the past 18 years Guy has been a teacher, mentor and true friend. We share the same values and understand the importance the art and craft of songwriting can have to aid the emotional wellbeing of young people. Guy’s passion for supporting songwriters old and new is legendary and I know his influence and expertise as patron will have a huge impact on our work in the future.”

Renowned songwriter and PRS Chairman Guy Fletcher OBE FRSA said, “Having seen at first hand the results of Nathan Timothy’s work with primary school children, I had no hesitation in agreeing to be the patron of the Songwriting Charity. Nathan has an extraordinary ability to motivate children by breathing life into their musical creativity and encouraging them to believe in themselves. Over three thousand children have received this gift already this year and I am proud to be associated with this achievement.”

Since it formed in July 2011, the Songwriting Charity has gone from strength-to-strength, working with more than 3500 children and young people across 130 Primary, Secondary and Special Educational Needs schools. By the end of the summer 2012, children will have participated in 130 songwriting workshops and written more than 145 original songs on a range of subjects from bullying, to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. To date the songs have been streamed more than 36,000 times on the charity’s SoundCloud, and their music videos viewed more than 21,000 times on the Charity’s YouTube Channel.

Professional’s evaluations have yielded impressive figures; 97% of professionals reporting they were extremely satisfied with the charity’s work, with 94% of them stating all their objectives had been met. Of note, 83% of professionals had noticed positive changes in the behaviour of the children who participated and engaged in the songwriting workshops, and 100% would happily recommend the Songwriting Charity to colleagues and other organisations. Faye Blain, Sherington Primary School, London Borough of Greenwich commented on our work, saying it was, “possibly one of the best visiting workshops that I have participated in, in over 10 years of teaching. Pupils were open in discussing experiences and were able to show a better understanding of what bullying is. Well planned, fantastic delivery and a great connection with the pupils.”

 

About the Nathan Timothy Foundation – the Songwriting Charity: We are the number one charity in the world dedicated to the empowerment of youth through the art and craft of songwriting. The work of the Songwriting Charity, addresses the emotional health and wellbeing of children using songwriting and music technology. The Songwriting Charity formed in 2011, is based in London, Cambridge, Kent and Gloucestershire.

Nathan Timothy is a member of the following associations: BASCA – The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, AIM – Association of Independent Music, Musicians Union and PRS

Further information can be found on the Foundation’s website: http://nathantimothyfoundation.org

About Guy Fletcher OBE FRSA: Guy Fletcher has been a respected songwriter since the sixties. Recordings of his songs by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Ray Charles, Frankie Valli, Joe Cocker and many other international stars have ensured Guy’s place in British pop history.

Still a leading light in the music industry, he was elected Chairman of the PERFORMING RIGHT SOCIETY on January 1st 2011. Wearing his commercial hat, he is Chairman of COMMERCIAL ARTS LTD, a new rights management company in the UK – specialising in bringing high-quality music based projects and their creators to their markets. He is also Chairman of CONEXION MEDIA GROUP Plc a rights management company specialising in secondary rights. Conexion Media Group (formerly Music Copyright Solutions Plc) was listed, first on OFEX then graduating to AIM in 2004. It is now one of the biggest independent administrators of music for film and television in the world.

Guy’s Creative life has been active since he achieved his first UK hit with “I Can’t Tell the Bottom From The Top” by the HOLLIES in 1969. He discovered Chris De Burgh whilst he was still at Trinity and built his career over ten years, making him an international star. Many more successes followed across many genres. His experience as writer, producer, publisher and industry guru is second to none.

Further information can be found at http://guyfletcher.com/

Social feeds:

@NTFoundation

http://www.youtube.com/user/SongwritingCharity

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nathan-Timothy-Foundation-The-Songwriting-Charity/

https://ntfoundation.wordpress.com

 

“All Your Love” – my rescue remedy

Jason, words fail us……. thank you for this………….

In 1998 I fell ill with a mystery illness that robbed me of the love of my life – music. For two years I suffered badly with fatigue, muscle aches and bad dizziness. When I was finally diagnosed with ME I could hardly stand listening to music. It disorientated me. It made my head spin. Music, my consolation, my invigorator, my passion was causing me pain. Listening to music would make me feel really ill. So, what did I do? I stopped listening to it.

Now, this is a guy who from the age of 3 owned a casette player (ask your parents), rifled through his parent’s LPs (again, ask your parents) and bashed away on a dodgy old acoustic guitar every hour of every day. Music was in my blood. Certain songs were like bookmarks in my life. If I heard a certain tune it would help me re-live a moment from my past, would transport me to a place and time or would dig up some old emotions. Music was my mistress, my passion and she was a good mistress. I feel that music enriched my life and was in some cases the glue that bound me to other people – a shared love of music was the basis for my teenage friendships, which coincidentally have lasted the ravages of time and survive to this day.But one day I put on a CD and had to turn it off straight away. Listening to music hurt my head. And as for playing it! That was even worse. At times the fatigue was so bad that I couldn’t even pick up my guitar, let alone play it. For two years I struggled with my mistress. She was cruel to me and wouldn’t soothe me the way she used to. Elvis’s voice would jar in my ears. Duke Ellington would sound like a train hammering through my head. Even good old Eric Clapton’s guitar screamed inside my skull. Eventually I gave up and stopped trying to please my mistress. I stopped playing guitar, stopped singing and stopped listening to music. The only musical sound I heard was the beep of the supermarket checkout. Music and I had officially divorced. We had to go our separate ways.

So for six months I forgot about the cotchets, the quavers, the power chords, the pizzicato and the scat. I had said goodbye to dub, reggae, grunge, rockabilly, waltzes and arias. My head was calm, but deep within me was a growing void. I was living a life without music, and to be honest, life was looking pretty grey. But at least I was feeling well.

Then, one day, a day that is really clear in my mind I found an old CD copy of the Bluesbreakers album. You know, the Beano album. The one that Eric Clapton made with John Mayall, Hughie Flint and John McVie in 1966. And so, being in a reasonably good mood, feeling less ill than I had I slid it gently into the CD player, turned the volume down and pressed play. I held my breath slightly as the CD sped up, whizzing into a hiss as the laser scanned the disk; and then it happened.

It just happened. Like the sweetest kiss from a long lost lover. Clapton’s guitar belting out the intro to “All Your Love”, the old Willy Dixon/Otis Rush song just washed over me. And it was bliss! Shivers raced up and down my spine. My head was full of colours, shapes and words as Clapton’s playing began to fill me up with emotion. I was shaking with emotion as the sounds, the vibrato and the rhythm got inside me. I closed my eyes and let that wonderous sound wash over me. Clapton pouring out his emotion through his guitar, poured into me and filled me up. Yes, I shed a tear, I’m not ashamed to say, but they were tears of joy. My lover had come back and was being as tender and as loving as she always used to be. And somehow, having lost her, her return was all the more special and the effect she had on me was even more profound than before. That day I played that track over and over and over. It felt good. No, that’s rubbish…it felt right, as if someone had finally replaced something vital that had gone missing.

And I am pleased to say that she’s never left me since. My ME has gone totally. Even in times of great stress my music is there to console me, make me strong and help me through. She’s also there to join me in times of celebration. Whilst music isn’t my life, I know she will always be there for me and as I prepare for my wedding next year I know music’s going to be a big part of the day.

To all those amazing people that put pen to paper, finger to key, foot to pedal and pick to string and create this powerful force that we call songs I slaute you and thank you. From the bottom of my soul, without your work and dedication my life would be less. Keep rocking, keep writing and keep performing. What you do makes the lives of people like me even better.

And for those of you with a talent, don’t keep it for yourselves. Share it. You never know, you just might touch someone deep inside.

Jason Martin runs a Folkestone-based social enterprise called CAP Enterprise (Kent) cic that aims to be a driving force in growing social enterprise activity in Kent. Having spent the early part of his career in the private sector Jason decided in 2000 to transfer his business development skills into working in the third sector. Since then he has developed a reputation for giving invaluable, practical business support and guidance to people with ideas for new businesses, social enterprises and community projects. In his very limited spare time Jason plays guitar, sings and takes part in triathlons – but not all at the same time.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”

The Songwriting Charity is really pleased to welcome our new friend and supporter Mel Elliot to our roster of guest bloggers. Mel Elliott is the owner of a web development and offline media design company, but has previously been the editor of a community music magazine, organized many live music events, sung in unsigned bands and is a single parent with four children. 

 
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” Victor Hugo (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885)
 
Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France and although his many talents did not include exceptional musical ability, he nevertheless had a great impact on the music world through the inspiration that his works provided for composers of the 19th and 20th century and he particularly appreciated and enjoyed the works of many composers. In today’s multi-cultural, multi-sub genre music world, he might have found a more directly established link between his writing and the music he influenced, who knows, perhaps even as a modern day rapper.
 
How to define music has long been the subject of debate. The definition has varied through history, in different regions, and within societies. Music, like art, is a subjectively perceived phenomenon. Music may be defined according to various criteria including organization, pleasantness, intent, social construction, perceptual processes and engagement, universal aspects or family resemblances, and through contrast or negative definition. 
 
Perhaps it is precisely its indefinability that is the key to how it can provide such a fascinating tapestry of gifts rarely quite as comprehensively enveloped by any other activity, which enables almost everyone to feel its benefits in some way. 
 
I grew up surrounded by, and involved with, music and the music industry. When bringing up my four children, largely on my own, in circumstances that were far from ideal, I noticed that their distinctly different personalities each turned to music for solace in some way. However, my oldest son seemed to struggle more overtly with every transition we had to deal with, and there were many times when his behaviour became so disruptive that I honestly wondered if he would make it through to adulthood in one piece. In his troubles, he isolated himself from his peers and this made me even more concerned. There are many musicians in our family, so I find it odd that it took a point of near despair for me to pursue music as a form of tangible assistance for him. Nevertheless, I provided him with music lessons, bought him a guitar, had the piano tuned and…hoped.
 
It wasn’t a sudden success, he didn’t have two music lessons and everything was fine. But I noticed that unlike everything else he had ever tried he was actually putting effort into it…and after a while, even choosing music over other activities. Something had changed in him, and for him, and he was more at ease with life. A few years later, he was rarely without a guitar strapped to his back or composing a tune on the piano. As he grew older it was normal to find his many friends gathered round the piano at home, listening to him play. I walked in once to find a few of his mates moved to tears by his latest composition and I think I knew then that he had finally won the battle.
 
With all of the twists and turns and childhood, music is a readily accessible dependable rock. Whatever it might ulitmately transpire to be for any one person, music gives everyone a constructive outlet for self-expression, a challenge, a source of achievement, a sense of belonging and self-worth. Undoubtedly, for my children, music contributed in some way to the rounded, grounded, happy people they are now. My youngest daughter yearns to be a singer, my older daughter takes photographs of bands as a break from studying physics and I have a son who is a sound engineer.  For them music is not the only important part of their lives, but it figures very highly in their list of priorities. For my oldest son, music is quite possibly the most important part of his life. He has left the traumatic years in the past and is now a composer, a mastering engineer and studying music at university.
 
The work of the Nathan Timothy Foundation actively recognsies that whether or not a child initially displays any musical inclination, and irrespective of their personality, ability or background, the participation in projects that flourish from a musical core will offer an enhancing experience for all concerned.
 
As Hugo suggests, I have probably not put into words what music can, but my concluding thought would warn against ever underestimating or ignoring the impact that music might have in your child’s life, whoever they are and however or whatever the means by which it reaches them, always embrace that opportunity.