A Case Study by Ann Wright from the VOCES8 Foundation.
Journeys with the Friday Afternoons Song Bank When Tower Hamlets Arts and Music asked if the VOCES8 Foundation could incorporate songs from the Friday Afternoons Song Bank into a project for Key Stage One children we decided to take the children on a journey. Using this journey theme, year 2 children and their class teachers (who were not musicians) learned 3 songs: Fast Car, Ferrari Mountain and From a Railway Carriage. Using these songs as a starting point, and with the help of the Foundation’s singing team, the children and teachers also and created their own musical response to a journey. The project began with a workshop for all the participating children and teachers. Led by Apollo5, the workshop included warm-up activities, an introduction to each song and a creative response to Baiskeli. (You can find the VOCES8 Foundation’s creative response to Baiskeli on our website https://voces8.foundation/resources) This creative response provided a helpful starting point giving teachers ideas, tips and tricks for their own creative response to a journey. Apollo5 soon discovered that the teachers had begun introducing each song to their classes and the children were already singing Fast Car and Ferrari Mountain very enthusiastically! Each class and their teacher received two workshops by members of the Foundation’s singing team. The singing leaders supported the children in learning to sing the songs, however each workshop focused mainly on helping the classes devise their creative response. Sounds, nouns, adjectives, places, rhythms and melodic fragments were recorded for the teachers and children to refer to. Suggestions for structuring these ideas and putting a performance together were sent to each teacher. The journeys were many! Trips by car and train with family and friends. For many of the children, a countryside journey such as the one in From a Railway Carriage was not something they had ever experienced. However, a journey by tube train was and so busy London platform sounds mingled with ‘mind the gap’, doors opening and fragments of ‘faster than fairies, faster than witches’. One school has an annual trip to the seaside so their journey was all about packing, travelling and having fun by the sea. All participating classes and teachers came together to perform the songs and their creative responses for each other, parents and friends. For the school whose year 2 classes travelled to the seaside several weeks later, their creative response was one of their journey songs during the trip. I think the teachers were initially nervous about learning the songs and developing a creative response. None were familiar with the Friday Afternoons Song Bank and most were not confident about leading singing. The magic of the songs and the way the children picked these up so quickly soon won the teachers over. The potential for wider learning also encouraged the teachers to consider exploring the Song Bank further. ‘I really enjoyed taking part in the project and I know that my class really benefited from the experience. The musical skills that they developed through the project will also be useful for learning in other areas of the curriculum. I will definitely use Friday Afternoons Song Bank again. This was a new resource for me. There are valuable links to be made with other curricular learning through developing such a creative response so I will certainly be doing this again. It was a really fun and kinaesthetic approach to teaching new language (particularly appropriate for the majority of pupils who speak English as an additional language). I will be doing this kind of work with children as part of their literacy units of learning next year.’ Ellie Meredith, Year 2 Teacher Smithy Street Primary School Our journey did not end with trains, automobiles and bicycles! The VOCES8 Foundation embarked on a second journey incorporating two Friday Afternoons songs to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. This journey to the moon involved a project with year 2 children in Tower Hamlets and Newham. For this project the children and their teachers learned songs featuring the moon and stars arranged by Apollo5 including When You Wish Upon a Star and It’s My Time to Shine (a song full of useful facts about the moon). Members of the singing team then supported each class in developing a creative response to Mad Moon or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. The children chose which song they wanted to use after exploring each one with our singing team. Participating classes and their teachers visited the VOCES8 Centre for a workshop and concert with Apollo5 and we had some terrific moon sightings and rocket trips, many from back gardens where, as the stars twinkled, the children sang ‘the song of the lunatic moon’. The VOCES8 Foundation’s 2019-2020 season of education projects in France includes a creative response to Music on the Waters (https://voces8.foundation/resources) and as our musical journey with schools and singers across the UK and abroad continues, we will be exploring and sharing both new and older songs from the Friday Afternoons Song Bank with teachers and children. Ann Wright Director of Education VOCES8 Foundation Fast Car Fast Car by Jonathan Dove Ferrari Mountain Ferrari Mountain by Luke Styles From a Railway Carriage From a Railway Carriage by Nico Muhly Baiskeli Baiskeli by Gwyneth Herbert Mad Moon Mad Moon by Jonathan Dove Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by The Unthanks Music on the Waters Music on the Waters by Jonathan Dove