“You helped me do something today I never thought I could” 

Friends, we need your help. The aim is simple, to deliver an exciting new songwriting and music project designed to empower young people in recovery from addiction. And we need you to help us by making a donation to make this project happen.

This is a new project, in an area of the country we’ve not worked before, and with beneficiaries who would benefit from the time and creative expertise of the Songwriting Charity’s workshop leaders and support workers.

We’ve named this project, Stronger Together, the objective is to embrace the needs of young people aged 14-19 who have experienced difficulties because of drugs and alcohol, and supporting them and empowering them through the art and craft of songwriting and music creation. The project will start on 18th April 2017. We have a base for the project. Young people who are already engaged in recovery are aware of the project and will be meeting with us soon to talk about the next steps.

Workshops led by Nathan Timothy and his team of freelance artists  will work with young people who will self refer over the course of six weeks, focusing on their strengths rather than their difficulties, helping them to look forward to the future with positivity and hope. The project will be based in a safe and welcoming environment, one that the young people will be familiar with and comfortable working in.

The funds raised will be used to entirely fund the costs of workshop leaders, session workers, pastoral support and venue costs. The route from donor to beneficiary couldn’t be clearer or more direct. We are accountable to our beneficiaries, and to you, the donor. We will share the successes, difficulties, impact, the things we make together and the changes that occur as a result of the project.

The title of this post is apt. Many children and young people say to us “You helped me do something today I never thought I could…..” this statement reminds us how powerful songwriting and music creation can be. It shows how opportunities like this can help by providing positive social experiences, addressing problematic attitudes and perceptions, and distracting from negative and damaging influences in a creative way.

Please consider making a contribution to this project, and in doing so you’ll help us replace a young persons feelings of hopelessness and negativity with a sense of pride, optimism and achievement.

Contribute here.

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Whoever You Are

Impossible not to be charmed and impressed by this latest Bully Beat song brought to us by the consistently brilliant young songwriters at Edward Francis Primary School, Rayleigh, Essex. The song deals with a serious issue confronting children and young people today. Whoever You Are is catchy, thoughtful, containing crystal clear messages. The sparkling performances captured in the video ensure the song’s appeal ranges far and wide. We’ve no doubt it will bring a smile to your face and get you tapping your feet, all for the right reasons!

Well done Edward Francis Primary School! You have graduated two cohorts of exceptional songwriters and clued up Bully Beat activists! This year’s Anti-Bullying Week is all about Making A Noise About Bullying – well you guys have been doing that for the last two years (and more) with the Songwriting Charity.

We offer thanks to the Essex Community Foundation and the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust Burns Night Pledge donors for supporting this important project, for playing their part in empowering children through the art and craft of songwriting and helping the world hear what they have to say.

‘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.

My Experience with The Songwriting Charity

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

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

Stop Don’t Bully Me

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‘Stop Don’t Bully Me’ is an original Bully Beat anti-bullying song written by children at Tunstall Primary School, Sittingbourne, one of 30 primary schools in the Swale District of North Kent taking part in this project.

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 Bully Beat in project in Swale is supported by our partners The Angus Lawson Memorial Trust and First Class Business Solutions. Without their support, we would not have been able to deliver such a large scale project. Interest in Bully Beat is extending right across Kent with schools in Medway showing a keenness to get involved.

We are currently working with up to 30 primary schools across the district in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015. More schools than we have funding for are wanting to get involved. If your school wants to join the Bully Beat project, get in touch with john@songwritingcharity.org

‘I Don’t Like It’ by Great Wakering Primary School

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‘I Don’t Like It’ is a poignant anti-bullying pop song written by children at Great Wakering Primary School, Essex. We’d like to thank Ms. Jo Brown for her encouragement and support and say well done to all the children who took part in the workshops. The song is very moving and contains important anti-bullying messages and we’re so pleased to hear that the group taught their school the song! Great work and look forward to seeing everyone at Great Wakering again in 2014.

About Bully Beat in Essex
Our second Bully Beat project in Essex primary schools is supported by the Essex Music Education Hub, with generous music technology support granted by Korg Education. 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.