Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Summer Term 2016 – Blog 10

Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Summer Term 2016 – Blog 10  – 19 April 2016

Hugh Nankivell – BSO Associate

The provocation for today – to be outside and to see what music is made.

I worked without any other staff member today and began with a group of eight. We walked across the field to the listening hut and began with ‘Hello’ and then did ‘Boogie Woogie’ (the new song from last week) twice, both in the hut and then outside. I tried to initiate a chat about the differences. One person clearly responded and ‘C’ said that it was ‘better outside ‘cause we make such a loud noise.’ It seemed to me the distractions/inspirations when working outside are much more vivid and also spread out much further. So that during the next ninety minutes, when we stayed outside, all of the eight children I began with left me for some other activity (many returned from time to time) and others joined, such that I was a kind of drop-in music port.

During the exploration we made up many new songs and discovered some great ideas.

Song 1 –

Monkey Jungle

Monkey jungle just like this (x3)
Sing away on the waves

This was initiated by ‘O’ who had come up with the dance and the Boogie Woogie ideas last week. She had a really clear action, (two slaps on the thighs and then two claps up high), lyric (‘Monkey Jungle – just like this’) and a little melody. She seemed really delighted with the new song and is building up a repertoire. Others helped to put in the final line.

While playing this song we got out the instruments and ‘A’ made a drum kit from 4 drums together and seemed really happy and focused. ‘C’ sat perched on the percussion box where he could be higher up than the others and stayed there for quite a long time.

Song 2 –

Dinosaur Boogie

Dinosaur boogie eats grass
Dinosaur boogie eats bones
Dinosaur boogie eats bogies
Dinosaur boogie eats trees
Dinosaur boogie eats branches
Dinosaur boogie eats wood

This song came from wanting to do another ‘boogie’ song, an interest of one of the group dinosaurs, and the outside environment. ‘A’ added the trees, branches and wood lines as she looked around her.

Song 3

Dandelions and the Losers

The seeds are going to land
The seeds are going to sprout
The seeds are gong to turn into dandelions

Dandelions and the losers
Dandelions and the losers

A song mainly from ‘C’, after he and ‘A’ started finding plants in the grounds and they collected them in a toy policeman’s helmet (and later ‘H’ made ‘tea’ from them) and ‘C’ found, picked and blew a dandelion head away.

We sang this song for quite a long time and I asked ‘C’ why ‘the losers’? His reply was that  we were all the losers, (he needed to be top dog today!), but actually as Miss B said, when we sang it in the sharing later, it also applies to the seeds as they disperse and they get lost. I like this double meaning in a song, which happens sometimes and the songwriter is thinking of one thing when making a lyric and the audience another.

Song 4

I Really Want It To Snow

I really want it to snow x4
I really want it to rain x4
I really want it to be sunny x 4

Most of the original group I had were gone by the time this song was created. There were several new children to the Foundation Stage who I had not met before who had found me and were interested in all the instruments (especially as they were all strewn across the grass because ‘C’ needed to sit on the upturned box) and one girl ‘A came across and picked up the blue ukulele, which had only three strings on. ‘A’ was not new, but I had never heard her singing in this way before. She started to strum and sang a lovely little melody perfectly in tune with the strings (which I discovered were tuned to C Eb Bb – low to high). So I played a kind of Ebm6 chord on the guitar and we sang the song together as a duet for quite a long time. She really owned the melody and as Miss B was nearby we called her over to hear the song and ‘A’ sang it to her. Miss B asked ‘A’ if she had ever seen snow and she replied ‘no I was in my mum’s belly.’

I wonder if her singing was inspired by the outdoors?

Song 5

Superman and Spiderman

Superman lives high in the sky
Superman flies everywhere
Spiderman lives with superman
He gets everywhere with his spinning webs

‘I’ made up this song with me. He was in the original group, but became very distracted by the dressing up clothes and got into a Superman costume early on in the afternoon and then spent a long time worrying about his lost shoes. But he was also observing the other songs being created and so then asked if we could make a song about superman. So we did.

Song 6

Four Wiggly worms in My Hand

The final song of the day. One girl I had not seen at all, came over with four wiggly worms in her hand. I improvised a song beginning with having four worms and then one goes into the soil, so then there is three etc. ‘S’ was really delighted with this and went off laughing.

We then tidied up and went back inside for the sharing.

During the sharing we sang ‘Hello’ and then shared ‘Monkey Jungle’ with ‘O’ leading the words and the actions: ‘Dandelions and the Losers’ with ‘C’ shyly singing along with me and then ‘A’ and I sang ‘I Really Want It To Snow’ together. We ended with the ‘Goodbye’ song.

So what differences did I observe between today which was mostly outside and last week which was mainly inside? Well we had less group focus, less arguments and disagreements, more directly responding to our environment, more individual creativity and more scope for chance things to happen.

Next week is the final session with the children before the family band project begins.


Buckfastleigh Biscuit Band

Hugh Nankivell – BSO Associate – 15 April 2016

So what is new about the Buckfastleigh Biscuit Band that started last week? Well we are meeting in the Redmount Nursing and Residential Home and making music with a group of residents who live there, but we are also inviting local older folks who live in Buckfastleigh and Ashburton and famililes with young children who drop in on their way home from school, and a handful of local professional musicians. So we are a creative group playing old and original music together, composing new songs and dancing. This whole project is emerging from a community project Suzy Edwards has been running in Ashburton and Buckfastleigh for the last year and more and her connections, contacts, energy and enthusiasm holped the planning and the first session to succeed wonderfully.

To begin with we had a group of about twenty older folks (some visitors and some residents) in the big common room and musicians Steve (guitar) Bob (trombone) Rachel (flutes) and me (accordion). We were in a big circle with us four musicians spaced evenly around (in the gaps!). We introduced everyone with the ‘Hello’ song, and then quickly got the instruments out – mostly percussion – shakers, chime bars, triangle, llama’s toenails etc and began playing following my conducting. We played fast, slow, loud, soft, stop, start, waltz and march. There was real focus and attention and enjoyment. We then sang a favourite from Redmount ‘The Quartermaster’s Stores’ with many new verses and instrumental acompaniment and got our minds clicking and whirring thinking up rhymes. Next we made up a new song about ourselves. This (and we) became ‘The Hobnob Biscuit Band’ (see words below) and emerged with lots of laughing and fun and great singing. We then ended the first hour with a dance. Rachel, Steve and Bob played while the rest of us danced, listened or sang along.

During the break about five families joined us – parents and children mainly aged 5-12 – and there was lots of tea and squash drinking and much cake eating and socialising. I spent a bit of time chatting to Margaret and wrote down some of the things she said and then, with Steve, Bob and Rachel, turned her words into a little song. After the break we sang it to her and everyone and it seemed to go down well. Now, with the bigger band we added a second verse to our new song, we played instruments again, swapping them many times, we did some call and response playing, we learned and played along with ‘Little Brown Jug’ – another Redmount favourite -, we danced to ‘Moon River’ and we got out the handchimes and played them in a circle. One group of five players created a lovely little melody that we quickly turned into a song – happy words, but a wistful melody, beautifuly played and it felt like a lullaby, so we finished then. Two and a half hours of music and smiling.

This new project linking together many different aged folk from one community in a creative encounter seemed to go really well. By the time I had cleared everything up and was ready to leave I was repeatedly thanked by the residents, who are all looking forward to the next session.

The new songs…


Verse 1
We all like drinking – a nice cup of tea
We all like drinking – black coffee please
We all like drinking – a lovely glass of wine
We all like drinking – we have a good time

We’re allsorts of hobnobs
We’re glad to be here
We’re hobnobs of allsorts
We’re full of good cheer

Verse 2 (made when the families joined us)
We all like eating – bangers and mash
We all like eating – corn beef hash
We all like eating – cheese and bread
We all like eating – what a spread


Old time dancing
Many moons ago
Torquay, Oldway,
Royal Legion clubs
Looking after folk
Two sister in Ashburton
One was ninety nine
The other a hundren and one

Been down one side of the Abbey
Lived down the other for sixty odd years
Buckfast born and bred

I used to decorate,
I used to garden
Now I can’t even get up
To put up a lightbulb
I used to go visiting
I used to do anything
I remember when
Dr Ironside used to be here

Been down one side of the Abbey
Lived down the other for sixty odd year
Buckfast born and bred

It’s a sunny day
It’s a day to play
Let’s go out and play
Today – hooray

Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Summer Term 2016 – Blog 9

Haytor View Early Years Music Project, Summer Term 2016 – Blog 9  – 14 April 2016

Hugh Nankivell – BSO Associate

Just three sessions left now before we begin our family band project. So I had a clear plan for today, to play music inside and outside (to the far side of the school, the only bit we hadn’t been to yet) and to ask the group how they felt about the differences between making music inside and outside. We achieved both of these things.

So, after we had sung the ‘Hello’ song together I asked how they felt about playing music outside and we recorded the conversation, and here are some of their answers:

Happy, sad, cold, outside makes it colder, it makes the instruments really fast, makes the guitar really fast, really speedy, I can beat my mum to a race… [and then a conversation started about racing parents and who was the fastest]

After that conversation I asked how they felt about playing music inside and these were the responses:

Nice, warm sad, happy, mad, I really don’t like the cold, I really hate the cold… I’m going to play a song about vampires. I don’t like getting wet. If there were holes in the school the rain would come in. If there were big holes people would fall in. I would drown ‘cause I can’t swim. I can’t swim, I can swim… [and then it went off into a conversation about who could swim and who couldn’t and who used armbands etc etc] 

So then I explained that we would play inside and then outside and then one person said

No we don’t have to go outside, I want to stay inside. It’s starting to rain, I don’t want to go without wellies. [and it went back to the conversation about swimming and arm bands and who liked the wet…]

So I wanted to find out what they thought about the difference between music indoors and outdoors and got some interesting verbal responses. You can have happy and sad music indoors and out, but outdoors makes the music go fast and indoors the music can be warm and mad! But each time the conversation quickly went off into their areas of interest – racing parents, leaking rooves, arm-bands and swimming. In this moment of the provocation I didn’t follow their leads into these other areas, but instead suggested we get the instruments out and explore music-making indoors, before doing the same outside.

After an hour of playing inside with instruments, hiding, drawing, using sticky tape, arguing, discussing and much more, we went outside to the far side of the school. Immediately being outside felt very different and the energy of the group felt less bounded. There was a group doing PE on the playground, there were birds and traffic to listen to, there were ants to find on the ground and much more. We sat in a circle and discussed what we could hear and – with a bit of a struggle – made up a song together with an idea from everyone.

It feels cold – pshhhhhhhh

I heard a bell – ring

I heard a bird – craa craa craa

I heard a car – mrrrrrroooom

Look there’s an ant

Look there’s an ant

Look there’s an ant

And then there’s a bus.

Outside the focus is very different and the energy did seem faster (as predicted earlier on)

and next week we will go outside first of all, to see what difference that makes.

There is so much happening at these sessions, and this is just a snapshot of what is going on. Here is a little converation with ‘A’ as we got my guitar together. This was after it had been played by a group of children for some time (in fact at one moment there were four children playing it at once – see the picture) and was now quite out of tune. ‘A’ played each string carefully one at a time:

A             That’s a bad song

Me          Why is it bad?

A             Cause you can’t even sing something else. (I strummed it and it was very            dischordant)

A             How do you when it’s gooder? [meaning ‘how do you put it in tune? I think]

Me          Put it in tune?

A             (nodded)

So I tuned it up and ‘A’ watched very carefully and then I played a D major chord.

A             What is that? Flock’n’roll?

And indeed D major is the first chord of ‘Flock’n’roll’ and so we started to sing it together and others joined in.

So what happened here? ‘A’ was really exploring the difference between in tune and out of tune, he associated that with good and bad, and understood that you can’t sing with an out of tune guitar. So what does this mean for ‘A’ when he gets an out of tune Ukulele – as he often does have one to hand? But it also showed his acute hearing – he realised that the D major chord was the start of a song he had heard (but not recently) and felt happy to have recognised this and started singing along.