Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Autumn Term 2015 – Blog 2

Haytor View Early Years Music Project with BSO Devon Associate Hugh Nankivell
Wednesday 23rd September 8.30-11.40am

As the children were coming in I had a brief chat with some of the parents, giving the sheet music of ‘P’s song from last week and a copy of the blog to ‘P’s dad. He reaffirmed that she sings all the time at home and loves music, and that she sings a mix of songs that already exist and also ones that she makes up. And for me this is really imprtant – that combination of creative/improvisatory and also repertoire.

Also while I was moving round I was briefly near the table with ‘C’ and his Mum and she smilingly said to me ‘not singing yet Hugh?’ This felt a very nice endorsement of my work in the school and also an acceptance that I am part of the fabric of the school, and that some parents now expect to hear music when I am around.

Today we did some audio recordings of the class songs and played them back to the group and this felt important – they were very happy and wanting to join in with the recordings and sometimes couldn’t resist. We hear the music we have just played and our hands and bodies move with what we were doing when we made the recording, and we want to replicate that again.

We discovered one boy today ‘J’ who has what seems to have an inherent musicality – at one point he had the drum and played it for ten minutes or so while we sang the new school song and improvised around it in a group of ten children and two adults. It was immediately clear that he:

  1. was really steady,
  2. could play cadences (he realised the end was coming up and played with the ending) and
  3. was very sensitive – never too loud, shifted tempo with us, and was a real accompanist.

Later we sang this song for the music co-ordinator in the school and sang it with whispered and loud bits and ‘J’ acompanied wonderfully. One of the class teachers talked with me about how she also observed ‘J’ as he was able to follow tempo changes, dynamic changes and cadences.

Today a  boy ‘C’ made up a new game (later named as ‘Eggy Hunt’). This was his response to finding some egg shakers and a small tambour drum. The game consisted of counting the egg shakers, then explaining to everyone else that we must close our eyes, while ‘C’ put some under the drum and then we had to guess where they had gone. He really loved this game and enjoyed playing it in ‘sharing’ time at the end of the morning. He enjoyed this more than playing ‘music’ I think. He and another boy also got very involved in throwing the eggs to me (and each other) and seeing how many could be caught in one hand without dropping them, and also trying to juggle them.

A small group of us played together as a band improvising and then introducing the idea of ‘freeze’ at certain points (and sometimes ‘stop’) and again ‘C’ got really involved in it as a game, and the stopping/starting is – for him – more improtant than the ‘music-making’ in between.

So today some of my roles have been to:

  • engage with parents,
  • sing and acompany songs that already exist,
  • record and playback the new music the children are creating,
  • encourage and develop group music playing,
  • support and play new games as they are invented,
  • observe and identify musical potential.

And my challenge for this week is to bring in a provocation that has the potential to develop and further some of the observed activities from today, and make sure I arrive with an open mind.


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