Music Enrichment: Composition Project - April-July 2017

Over the summer term, all of our children (with the exception of Year 2 who have been busy with Forest School) have been involved in Friday afternoon music workshops with Mrs May-Jones.
 
They have been split into their houses - Australasia, Asia, Europe, Americas and Africa - and worked collaboratively across age groups, with an older child taking the mantle of team leader. Over two afternoon sessions each, they were split into 4 or 5 groups and guided through a process to tell a musical story about their continent.
 
At the end of each session a small audience of their peers came in to listen to them perform their composition. You, too, can hear their compositions here, along with their story-lines. Please note, there may be some extraneous audience noise.
Africa's Story:
We are on safari where we see mud huts being built and a lion chasing a gazelle on the savannah. Then to the jungles of Madagascar in a rainstorm. Our safari continues in northern Africa with a camel plodding across the desert, finding respite in an oasis. Then we head home from holiday, taking photos and memories with us.
Americas' Story:
It's morning in Manhattan with the hustle and bustle of the city around us and then we're entertained in Hollywood. We move next to South America and the Amazonian rainforest. Then we explore the cult of celebrity (you may hear Donald Trump enter the room) and we finish our journey back in Manhattan at nighttime.
Asia's Story:
The monsoon is the common thread in this piece. We hear the rain falling in the jungle, the beach and the city. You may also hear baby turtles hatching and making their way to the ocean. Eventually the rain slows and ceases and the birds come out to sing their tropical song.
Australasia's Story:
We are awoken in the outback of Australia by the sounds of animals. We then move to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands to see their wildlife. Then another ocean journey back to Australia and back to our tent to let the nighttime noises lull us to sleep. Listen out for the shark attack!
Europe's Story:
It's a whistlestop tour around Europe - if it's Wednesday, we must be in Belgium. You may hear the sounds of landmarks like Big Ben and the leaning tower of Pisa, but more likely you'll hear the transport. We travelled by train, ferry, plane, truck and even helicopter!
 
Mrs May-Jones (Governor responsible for Music) says...
 
"The task of composing and performing their own piece could have been extremely daunting, but the children all rose to the challenge with a maturity that I was impressed by.
 
I was merely a guide, helping them break the task up into smaller, manageable pieces and pull all of those pieces together into a whole composition at the end. This is how we approached the problem:
  1. Brainstorming ideas about what their continent meant to them. This included sounds, weather, places, people and feelings
  2. Dividing them up into smaller groups each with their own specific task
  3. We used a symphonic plan called Sonata Form (consisting of Exposition, Development, Recapitulation and Coda) as a framework for creating their composition
  4. The children then experimented with the instruments to tell their part of the story
  5. They wrote a plan of their sounds and story
  6. They then created a graphic score to show their music - this is an alternative to musical notation that uses pictures to show sounds and tonality
  7. In the second session each team revised and refined their part of the score
  8. We then worked together to 'sew all the pieces' together to make a full musical garment
  9. We practised the piece and talked through how I would conduct it
  10. We performed to the team who was next going to be doing the project - we didn't give them any hints and they had to work out our story.
My thanks to the teachers who supported me in the workshops and to the governors who attended as audience members. Mostly, my thanks to the children who really embraced our watch words 'listen and respect'. They came up with some wonderful ideas and I hope you enjoy listening to their performances.
 
P.S. I apologise for teaching them, 'I am sitting very still like a frog'."