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.
I 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.