Haytor View Early Years Music Project – Blog 4

Haytor View Early Years Music Project with BSO Devon Associate Hugh Nankivell Thursday June 18th – afternoon session.

Varied and wonderfully creative session today at Haytor View with many new songs from new composers, including ‘S’ who drew a picture and then sang the picture (see picture of ‘S’, next to her picture listening back on the iPhone to the song ‘Living In A Boat’ after I recorded it). She performed it many times during the afternoon. In the assembly I sang it while she played and she became quite embarrassed, but kept it going. At hometime we sang it again together to her mum who wanted to know what she had been up to, and this time ‘S’ did the singing, confidently and comfortably.

S listening to her song with score
S listening to her song with score

Living in a Boat
We’re living in a boat
And wearing a crown
And dying in the water
A Mum woke her up
A monster came and took her away
And we’re gonna live in a boat again.
That’s everything.

I observed ‘E today singing throughout the session and I think that she improvised and composed at least five songs including:

  1. a re-write of ‘The Magic Word’
  2. ‘I Had A Shower Before I Went Downstairs’
  3. Fire Alarm
  4. Gems For Friends
  5. Cave Gems From The Mine

The inspiration for each song was clear and I could see the pathway between ‘E’ observing something and then turning it into an instant song. This reminded me of the aboriginal concept of ‘Songlines’ singing the world into existence and having a series of sung maps to find your way around the world. The net curtain inspired the ‘I Had A Shower…’ song (‘E’ sang it inside the net), the ‘Fire Alarm’ song was immediately after we had been evacuated into the field for a fire alarm, and the two gems songs came after discovering a box with two pink gems in.

I particularly observed three musical moments from ‘E’ today.

  1. She knows how to cadence (make an ending), and when singing songs it is really clear to the listener when she has finished. So she does have a clear structure in her songs and we can follow the story and know when it has ended.
  2. ‘E’ really has an understanding of orchestration (using different instruments). Today she had a ukulele and some shakers and I was asking her how she could play them together and she answered ‘I play them at different times’. In the re-written ‘Magic Word’ song ‘E’ said that the Uke could be for ‘please’ and the shakers for ‘thankyou’. This awareness and need to use different sounds for different words is a clear understanding of orchestration, even if it seems random as to why the uke should be for ‘please’ and shakers for ‘thankyou’.
  3. ‘E’ was today not interested in repeating songs, or even sections of songs. Many conventional songs have repeated words or choruses, but with ‘E’, when composing her story songs she feels no need to have repetition. I think that she is thinking about telling a narrative story with no turning back to previous sections. This makes me wonder about what the impact will be if I have a session with her all about the verse/chorus structure in song, suggesting that she creates one? Will this stymie her wonderful narrative non-repeating structures or inspire her to something new?

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