Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Spring Term 2016 – Blog 6

Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Spring Term 2016 – Blog 6

February 24th 2016

Upstairs in the studio first of all – I brought in a keyboard to play two songs to them including a new one from me that I had worked out using their words from the previous session outside.

We had a large group (20) upstairs and they danced and joined in with it…

I Can Hear The Sun

I can hear the sun on my trousers

I can see the clouds singing

and then the leafs turn up on the floor

I can hear the moon in my bedroom

I can see the trees windy

and then the leafs turn up on the floor

What I really liked about this was that I acknowledged the first three lines of the song as coming directly from the group (in fact the only line of lyrics I actually invented was the fourth line) but said that I could not remember who had come up with the first line. The group ascribed it confidently to ‘K’ and at that moment I remembered that it was him and we looked at each other and smiled. They then told me that ‘M’ had invented the second line and again this was a good moment of ownership for her with the song.

After these 2 songs and dancing we reduced the size of the group to eight (mainly new to me) and continued to make songs and music together. We looked out of the window at the clouds and made and played ‘The Cloud Song’.

The Cloud Song

Clouds moving over there

Clouds moving, it’s going to rain

Clouds moving in the sky

Clouds moving all white

(and then we swapped instruments – as determined by ‘R’)

We stayed as a whole group in the upstairs studio playing, moving, swapping instruments and singing this song for half an hour until we went outside. It felt good to go outside into the winter sun, as the cloud song was created because the window ledge was so high that all most of the group could see was the sky and the clouds. We needed to see and experience the real outside world, not mediated by glass.

Once outside we went on a number of journeys and adventures with and without instruments and made the following ‘songs’.

Trees and Leaves

Flowers on the trees

White flowers



I Walk To The Doughnut Shop 

I walk to the doughnut shop

Just down the road

I skip to the doughnut shop

Just down the road

I run to the doughnut shop

Just down the road


Down By The Gate

We saw a rainbow

Last time we were here

We found a ladybird

Right here

We found a snail

White and grey

We counted the trees

With the blossom on


We’ll Sing About The Sun

The sun comes out

and the moon comes out at night

The sun comes out

and the moon comes out at bedtime


A Bug and a Snail and a Leaf

A bug and a snail and a leaf

We found them all outside

A bug and a snail and a leaf

And then we found a feather

And the bug has gone to sleep

This whole set of songs again reminds me of the aboriginal ‘songlines’, in the way that the children are

  • singing up the world as they see it changing (lovely that ‘JJ’ spotted the new white flowers – blossom – on the newly planted trees),
  • interacting closely and in real detail with what they find (bugs, snail-shells)
  • moving about and using the space they are in,
  • using imagination (we were experiencing the sun, but imaginging the moon at night)
  • remembering journeys (‘J’ knew exactly how to get to the doughnut shop!)

and much more besides.

The whole session again seemed timeless today and it was great outside when ‘J’ took us on a running journey (with instruments) and it seemed and felt as if it would and could go on for ever! No wonder the class teacher said I looked tired when we came in.

Some of the playing was really dynamic today, with a long session of really quiet playing in the ‘Bug Snail and Leaf’ song, with ‘J’ playing really sensitively and folowing the narrative story telling of another child. We also explored a whole range of complementary sounds and movements including loud, stamping, quiet, tiptoeing, running, fast, walking, slow and the whole movement and music connections are increasingly growing.

We also had an interesting moment with the ‘Doughnut’ song when ‘J’ really hoped to be able to take us there. He tried to take us the most direct route, but the gate was locked, so we went through the school to the front entrance and only then was it explained to him that we couldn’t actually leave the school without permissions. He seemed to acept this and appeared glad to have got us this far on his journey.

Finally in the sharing at the end we repeated ‘The Bug and the Snail and the Leaf’ song and I drew rough outines of a bug, a leaf and a snail on three sheets of paper and one child still had the feather in her hand, so we were able to use visual images as prompts for the lyrics and this seemed to work really well. Why have I not done this before?


Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Spring Term 2016 – Blog 5

Haytor View Early Years Music Project with BSO Devon Associate Hugh Nankivell –  February 11th 2016

Such joy and excitement as the group came into the room from their lunchtime outside and saw me there unpacking my guitar. High fives (and high tens) hugs, questions, statements, crowding around, excitement and smiles. ‘What are you doing here?’ I was asked.

Well today I am here to share some music that has been made outwith the school (but inspired by it) and to see what happens and then to go outside to the east side of the school and see what emerges. Another cold day, but mostly sunny.

To begin with I played them a recording of a song written by my friend Graham based on the title that came up in week two this term ‘Why Did The Builders Build The Roof’. This was for guitar and voice. It has a pulsing guitar riff most of the way through and as soon as it started many of the group started moving. It did not take long for them to get up and they were dancing. ‘Awesome’ said one boy. There as such joy and enthusiasm and they danced solo, in pairs, in circles and more. Some danced mainly on the spot, others used the whole space to move around in. When the song finished we had a chat about what this music did for them.

‘It makes us thirsty’

‘It makes my tummy happy’

‘It makes my face burn into fire’

‘It makes my hair hurt’

(‘J’ who said this had been breakdancing and the dancing had upset his immaculate hair! So the music had moved him out of his comfort zone and he had noticed this.)

They had all got hot and some of their faces were red. They all wanted it again so we played the song again and they danced again. They wanted it again but, as I had collected seven new songs from their list of titles, I wanted to play them a couple of others. We then heard and danced to Pete’s ‘The Birds Are Flying’ (sung by him acapella along with his six month old grandchild) and Dean’s orchestrated pop song ‘I Can See The Shops’, both played twice.

The listening and attention was really acute. During Pete’s song the group immediately started to act out and move with the lyrics and at the end one boy said ‘birds can’t swim’. This started a good conversation about which birds could swim. (Can pigeons swim?) During Dean’s song several of the group were listening to the words and commented that they can see the trees and so pointed out of the window at them and later on they pointed at the sky when that line was sung. I like the fact that these songs break down the walls of the school and take us outside even if we are, temporarily at least, inside. And with this group they know that theses songs have come from their ideas from being outside and that at some point they/we will be going outside again. These are the new folk songs emerging from Haytor View.

After these songs we all had a drink of water and then some of us togged up and went outside. We sat on logs and listened and looked and this is some of what we sensed:

I can hear the ocean

I can see a castle

I can hear birds singing

I can hear the see-saws

I can hear the sun on my trousers

I can hear the trees windy

I can hear the train station

I can hear pecker – I saw one before.

I heard the police

I can hear the clouds singing

Although most of these statements are about hearing I love the fact that when we are young and when we go outside we do not separate out the senses so clearly and even if we want to separate them out we sometimes find that we can’t.

We then got on with playing and making music outside. A lovely song from ‘E’ and ‘S’

I can see the trees

The leafs fell down

They fell down in wnter

Then the leafs turn up on the floor

And later with ‘S’ she was tellng me about how they play with mud and I wrote down her words for a song she called ‘The Mud Kitchen’ (which needed a triangle and a rainstick and a guitar!)

We play with mud

We put it in the mud bowls

We scoop it all up

and then ‘S’ took the pen from my hand and write down a word below that looks like Dribopni.

IMG_3485I love the fact that she is taking over the scribing of the song and the making of it. She seems to be realising the importance (to me) of the page on the clip-board, and wants some of that action. Perhaps I also need to go the other way and get rid of the clip-board and learn to make music a bit more like them. My fear is the remembering. I write to help me remember.

We saw an aeroplane and a house and made up little songs about them. We met some children coming up from the bottom field where they had been rolling in the bright green lush February grass and made this song up with them as they re-appeared.

I keep falling over

I keep getting back up

I keep falling over

I keep getting back up

And then the fast tree bit    (and we all had to play fast music)

And then the rain came

And after the last line ‘L’ turned over the rainstick and we had to listen to it until the last drop of ‘rain’ had landed at the bottom. And of course as we were doing this we also heard lots of other sounds and often commented about the things we heard, before loopng around and starting the song off again.

Soon enough it was time to go back in. As we were going in I had my camera in my hand and ‘C’ asked:

‘can we see what we did outside’?

And I had to explain that I couldn’t show it immediately, but would next time (after half term). I like the idea of boudaries being broken again and the desire to bring the outside in and to share the inside without.

Back inside after we had had a drink we shared the ‘falling over’ song (see the picture – sorry, but I only took film rather than stills when we were outside) with everyone, but the listening to the end of the rainstick sounds was nothing like as acute as outside. Outside we listen in a different way.


Gloucestershire Strings Project

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is delighted to be working with a range of partners in Gloucestershire on an exciting strings project that will see at least 130 young string players aged between 7 and 21 rehearsing and performing Fiddler’s Hill by professional composer and violinist Jeff Moore. Jeff has written his thoughts of the project so far.

“I turn up at Sir Thomas Rich’s School in Gloucester on Saturday morning, nervous and apprehensive. How will they all respond to the music? Will they be bored? What if I’ve made the parts too difficult and they just can’t play it? It’s a familiar feeling before the first rehearsal of a new project, and even though this particular piece of mine, Fiddler’s Hill, has already been played a few times, the feeling of nervousness is just as strong. That feeling doesn’t subside as the young players start turning up, (wow, there are a lot of them), but ah, here’s Jon Trim from Gloucestershire Music. Jonathan’s Celtic Fantastia will also be in the programme, and we’d met a few years before when my piece The Gyspy’s Violin was played in Cheltenham Town Hall with another massed string orchestra. He’s a lovely chap and soon puts me at my ease as he starts rehearsing the youngest players in the piece.


Yes, this is challenging music and a lot of them are soon struggling, but Jon carries on and gets through the piece with everyone more or less together. It’s a bit of a scramble but at least we know what we’re up against now. After we take a break, I take over conducting duties for a bit and start getting into some more detail. Every time we play a passage, it comes to life a little bit more. This is encouraging. They do say practice makes perfect…

After a while, I leave them all to it and nip over to the Gloucester Academy of Music (GAM) where a slightly smaller group of younger players are being put through their paces by BSO violinist Alison Boden and GAM tutor Rob Jones. Everyone seems exhausted and they’ve clearly been hard at it, but Alison and Rob have come up with some excellent results and it’s starting to take shape. The two groups combined will make a sizeable sting orchestra of their own, but that’s only half of the story. Will there be enough players to balance the more senior parts, as well as the select group of BSO musicians playing the professional parts? Time will tell soon enough, and a couple of days later I’m back at the Gloucester Academy to rehearse the senior parts, aided and abetted by BSO cellist Phil Handy and GAM tutor Rob Jones.

There are some seriously impressive young musicians here, and almost straight away they’re getting the character of the piece. Rough corners are smoothed with ease and everyone starts to dig in. This is going to be fun! The performance is only a couple of weeks away but feels like an age, and I’m itching to get all the different groups together along with the BSO players to hear the full force of the music. It’s a very energetic piece, and I’m expecting my socks to be blown off by all that youthful enthusiasm. What a fantastic thing to look forward to! Bring it on!”

Supported by Make Music Gloucestershire

Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Spring Term 2016 – Blog 4

Haytor View Early Years Music Project with BSO Devon Associate Hugh Nankivell – February 3rd 2016.

Went on another journey around the school (singing the new school anthem – ‘This Is Our New School’) up to the studio, so that we could again look out towards Haytor View where we looked out last week. The parade was great, with lots of movement, music and singing. One of the great things about Haytor View is that the rest of the school always seem overjoyed that a parade of musicians happens to wander by and disturb them from their studying or meeting or learning.

We got to the studio and I asked ‘M’ to look out of the window again and to tell us what she could see, and this time it included palaces and houses (she could see most people’s houses it seemed!). I then sang the song I had invented inspired by her words (‘I can nearly see the snow on the mountains’ and ‘and the bus was going to the beach’) from the previous week.


I can nearly see the snow on the mountains
I can nearly see the ships on the sea
I can nearly see the cars on the south devon highway
I can nearly see my house from here

And the bus was going to the mountains
And the bus was going a long way
And the bus was going to the beach
And the bus was taking me on a holiday

Immediately the group started joining in and dancing. ‘C’ and ‘A’ had many new dance moves and, in fact, both of them kept moving for most of the afternoon. Others also were trying out new choreographies – and ‘J’ was really getting the breakdancing going towards the end of the afternoon. They have been really inspired by the movement and the idea of dancing and organising dances.

This whole little parade and song and dancing completely exhausted ‘M’ and she had to lie down for the rest of the session.

We then paraded downstairs singing the new song and, as the group moved outside, their movements became very extravagent – rock star poses with ukuleles and big movements. Everyone happily shared instruments and we all came down playing a different one.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing downstairs in the Foundation Stage. Lots of  writing words (the idea of song-writing has inspired many of them to get writing and there was a little table of writers at one point) small bands playing together and exchanging of instruments.

What was really striking was the fact that while there was a lot of music and sound going on (for about an hour in that space) there was also concentrated non-musical work going on. Individuals and small groups can and do focus really well if they are engaged in their tasks, even when there are bands playing, dances emerging and songs being written.

Great new song from a group which featured ‘zip-line playing’ – which is a new name for going fast up and down the strings on the guitar/ukulele or very fast glissandi over the xylophone notes. This song also featured actions and count-ins (one count in was 67 beats before we could start!) and dynamics and laughter.


The sun comes out
The plants go up
Up to a giant
And he says Fee Fi Fo Fum
Cause you play too much
And the blue egg runs away
And the yellow egg runs away
And the shiny egg runs away
To the park
When it rains
On a zip-wire

Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Spring Term 2016 – Blog 3


Haytor View – January 28th 2016

Great continuation from last week. They remembered all the dances and the dance moves and everything we had done and were still all full of it. And after they had told me all they remembered we then watched some film of us all dancing together last week.

We invented a great listening/moving game whereby individuals invented new dance moves (flowing hands, punching the air, jumping backwards and forwards, hopping…) and I made up some music to go with it on the mandolin. I then swapped between the musical styles and they changed to the different dance-steps immediately.

We were upstairs in the ‘studio’ and so we also looked out of the window on this side of the building and I wrote down all that the group could see. Another wonderful list of ideas and great mix of near and far, direct and imaginative.

I can see a load of houses
That big tower
I can see electric wires
The tower and houses
A tyre laying on the ground
Red cars
Big and small trees
Cars and vans and camper vans
I can see the towers and loads and loads of stuff
I can nearly see the snow on the mountains – and the bus was going to the beach
Another school over there
A sparrow and houses
Black birds and flags
Loads of hills with houses on and buses going past them
Grass and clouds

So lots of dancing and chatting and looking and thinking and ideas before any instruments this week.

Then outside making music and songs and games – in the sun and in the rain (but this week with coats on!) and lots of really interesting dialogue about play and what is allowed. Lots of the group wanted to play Hide and Seek, but this was not very successful due to a number of reasons (mainly due to lack of places to hide and the lack of it as a ‘musical’ game!) and we had a good discussion about this and experimented with it. Later ‘K’ (who was in a very thoughtful and creative mood all day) said we could play musical chairs because ‘that is a musical one’ and so we did play that very successfully.

A couple of good new songs and thoughts from that time outside. ‘K’ came up with this one – which was also a game and we played it for quite a while with singing, and swapping instruments and including briefly a new guitar technique (see picture). Lovely connection of rain and sun making a rianbow and mixtures of people making a band.


Rainy and sunny
Makes a rainbow
All three of us
Make a band
Everybody got two instruments
And play until we stop
And then we swap


Then later – ‘S’ came up with the folloiwng song, as we wre playing together in a band with two others – including ‘E’. Again what feels really good about this song is the directness of a song about the rain written while out in the rain as it falls softly on us.


The rain is coming down
Drip drip a thousand million
It feels wet and it feels soft
Drip drip a thousand million
I love the rain
It feels so great

‘A’ got engaged today with the music-making a bit more and she drew a picture of the musical chairs with musical notes (see the picture) and also made her own new alternative version of the song from last week.


‘Dinosaur in the woods

He’s not sad ‘cause he’s singing a song.’