Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Spring Term 2016 – Blog 2

January 21st 2016

BSO Associate – Hugh Nankivell

We are planning on starting a family band at Haytor View to be up and running next term. This week we took a good few steps towards that family band. We began with a session in the classroom with the children and then had a whole hour in the hall of about fifty 4 and 5 year old children and their parents (and many younger siblings) playing and dancing together. It was wonderful.

The parents came along not knowing that they would be dancing, but they came trusting that they would have fun and share in something creative with their children in this wonderful new school.

They danced newly minted and old folk dances (taught to them on the spot), they listened to each other, they created music, they played instruments, they swapped instruments, they followed conducting, they laughed and they played together, and the hour flew by.

This week I had invited my friend Hugh to come along. Hugh is a dance caller and we had great fun together. We especially liked the question from one child as to whether we were twins (both having the same first name!).

Hugh both called existing ceilidh dance steps and he collected movement ideas to make new dances while I played the guitar and the mandolin to accompany them all. As soon as I got out the mandolin and strummed it some of the group began to move and so it was great to have Hugh with me to take that movement on and develop it further.

We didn’t explain that there were any rules to follow and this meant that everyone looked out for everyone else and ideas flowed.

Dance is a really good way to lose inhibitions and to go from a ‘called’ dance to a newly created one is one good way to establish both a physical bond between folks and also a creative bond and the understanding that this is a place where things can happen and be created.

The new song I constructed from last weeks words (‘A Dinosaur In The Clouds’)was very popular and the group learned the words and made a sequence of movements to go with it.

Some children responded to movement in a very positive way and there was a great little discussion about what is a ‘real’ dance. Hugh assured us all that we can all dance (just as I assure them all that they can sing and play music) and one boy said that a real dance was when ‘you move around’.

So the new family band will have song, instruments, movement and more and we are several (dance) steps nearer to it after this week.


Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Spring Term 2016 – Blog 1

Haytor View Early Years Music Project with BSO Devon Associate Hugh Nankivell – Thursday January 14th 2016

The first week after the holiday and a sunny day for a new project. This term with Ernest Cook Trust and BSO support we are exploring:

  1. being outside and making songs abut the school and the site and the surroundings,
  2. introducing folk music and
  3. planning and preparing for a family band

Today I sang a couple of folk songs, introduced the accordion, went on a musical journey around the school with twelve children, looked at what we could see from the balcony on the first floor, came up with song ideas and played outside with instruments in the VERY cold, but clear air.


When I showed them the accordion case they wondered what kind of instrument it might be.
A racing car that can bounce
A Piano
A Guitar
A Ukulele-piano
A trumpet
A trumpet piano
and finally I was told by one girl  ‘If we open it then we will know’.

So we did and they heard it and we talked about how it needs wind to play it so one boy said we should take it outside and see if the wind can play it and another girl was so excited by the sound and said: ‘that is magic, that’s the fairies that done that… I think they are inside and to make it work.’


When we got upstairs we could see many things and all of these great titles for songs emerged.

– How Did The Builders Build The Roof?
– Almost As Tall As The Roof
– I Can See The Swings
– I Can See My House
– Dora Was On The Roof
– My House Is All The Way Up There
– I Can See The Whole Town Like A Monster
– The Birds Are Flying
– I Can See The Shops
– I Saw A Bin Lorry

(This could be a great concept album with these titles!)

And then a slightly more developed lyric emerged – which could be the first three lines of ‘My House s All The Way Up There’.

There’s loads and loads of houses
I don’t know which one is mine
But one of them must be

Finally the ideas of a group lyric emerged as we watched and saw the changes in the sky.

A Dinosaur In The Clouds

A dinosaur in the clouds
He’s not sad ‘cause he’s singing a song
And now it’s gone
The head is gone and the
Tail is gone
And the mouth is gone
And now I can see the moon from here


When we got to playing outside with instruments some instant songs emerged, especially from one girl ‘S’ – including

I Like the plants and I love them – sung repeatedly as we danced and sang by the potted plants and
I’m Jumping Up and Down Outside When I’m Excited sung for a long time.

There was such joy and unrestrained excitement at being outside with instruments and lots of space and one girl (the same one who thought there were fairies in the accordion) said:
‘This is so fun… I’m in a play’.

They ran around, choosing instruments, making games, pointing at birds or the clouds or the moon. leaping, jumping, hopping. In pairs, in bigger groups or on their own, everyone exploring and having fun and creating.

Roll on the rest of the term.