What an adventure we had during March and April continuing our work with BBC Ten Pieces. With Arts Council England funding, we visited 9 schools in South London as well as Steven Hawking SEN school in east London and Great Ormond Street hospital school.
During our workshops we went on a scary journey with Peer Gynt to the Hall of the Mountain King and then became soldiers from Mars preparing for war with The Planets by Gustav Holst!
We brought our Music Boxes Mini Rig and bespoke playing cards to help us to find out more about the pieces…
We all had so much fun!
Make sure YOU check out BBC Ten Pieces online at:
…and get your school involved. There are so many resources for teachers as well as brilliant activities, videos and mp3s for children to get busy with classical music everywhere!
It’s always really interesting to see how people are trying to make music inclusive and readily available for everyone. This is why we’re really interested in a notation system called “Figure Notes” which we were introduced to when attending a BBC Ten Pieces event. Musical notation can look really daunting on the page, especially if you are just beginning to learn how to read it. “Figure notes” is a notation system based on shapes and colours. Basically you play what you see! This is a system that works very well for children with special needs or disabilities. It is used a lot by Drake Music Scotland, a charity that creates music opportunities for children and adults with learning difficulties.
There is a different colour for every note within an octave (a stretch of 8 notes). For example if we start on the note C, C would be red, D is brown, E is then white etc. It works mainly for piano because coloured stickers can be put on the notes. With each note having a colour, each register also has a shape. So the middle octave on the piano is circles and then the register below is squares. For example, we know that C is red, so if it was a red circle we would play middle C, and if it was a red square we’d play the C an octave below. The shapes then change size to determine how long you would play each note and therefore you’d start to read the rhythms too.
This all works for the natural notes but obviously in music we have sharps and flats too. A sharp (#) next to a note means we go a semitone (half a tone) higher than the note and a flat (b) next to it means we go a semitone lower. In this system of notation, they simply use arrows to point in the direction needed to go. So if we were looking at a brown circle (a D) that had an arrow pointing to the right, or higher up the piano, that would mean you play a D# because the symbol tells us to go higher. Likewise, if you see a brown circle with an arrow pointing to the left, or lower down the piano, that would mean you play a Db.
When learning a system of notation like this, it’s really important that the student can progress to reading traditional notation when they are ready. To bridge this gap, “Figure Notes” uses coloured notes, which starts to look like a musical stave but the notes are coloured in.
We finished off our summer 2015 festival tour with End Of The Road Festival, a lovely family friendly festival at the Larmer Tree Gardens site.
Where else would you find a peacock strutting about?!
Team Rig outside our gazebo
Wet, wild and wonderful – this years WOMAD festival was amazing as ever! We survived the storms with our fantastic team of Becky Browne, Meg Brooks, Sazzy Fish and Josh Copperfield.
We saw some incredible bands including Magnifico, De La Soul, Orange Blossom and Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar.
The childrens area was, as usual filled with brilliant acts and, despite the torrential rain, we all soldiered on!
We all had such fun and had loads of jams with adults and children while sheltering from the rain.
We love you WOMAD!!
Photos by Josh Coppersmith Heaven.
What a lovely, sunny, happy festival Cornbury was! We had lots of lovely children come to play, accidentally camped next to and made friends with the award winning Discoshed crew and one of our other neighbours came and sang sea shanty’s with us, what lovely creativity!
Here are some pictures:
We were also impressed with the walkabout acts in the kids field, here are a couple of examples:
With thanks to Poppy Janella for the brilliant photos and videos.
Our first festival of the season, and what a lovely festie it was! A real family treat with a million things to keep the little ones happy. Our team for this festival was Amy & Becky (of course!) with the wonderful Joe and Poppy helping. Despite there being a few rain storms, we all just put on every item of clothing we had and flew The Rig fun flag!
We had some wonderful kids come to play The Rig, including these two little diamonds:
Joe wowed people with the ‘Magic Grill’ which is his new name for our ‘Oven Tray Headphones’ as, well, it is a grill and it is, of course, magic…
The new additions to our Rhythm Mini Rig and Bells Mini Rig went down a treat – with teapots, bike bells and an abacus!
We finished the festival off by watching Lady Smith Black Mambazo which was absolutely brilliant – they are so talented and are so refreshing to watch, as they know how to have fun on stage while still being musically perfect.
Next stop, Mycenae House and afterwards Cornbury Festival – roll on Summer!
On Wednesday 13th May 2015 we were lucky enough to go to BBC Ten Pieces Live at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank to hear the BBC Concert Orchestra perform the Ten Pieces of music that formed this project. It was such a brilliant event, with the hall packed full of excited children that couldn’t wait to hear the music. Their enthusiasm and excitement was palatable and I loved how they started clapping when the pre performance music came on. You’d never find an adult doing that, spontaneously clapping along to the intro music, just because if felt good to, in a hall full of other adults!
The children had their excitement rewarded as we were taught how to sing Zadok The Priest by some of the BBC Singers, led by Rebecca (a wonderfully enthusiastic lady who I’ve been lucky enough to do workshops with before) and later on taught some of the body percussion parts to the Anna Meridith body percussion composition, Connect It. With these two audience interaction pieces interspersing the rest of the pieces, the children were enraptured by watching a live orchestra play and feeling a little bit emotional it bought a tear to my eye seeing their joy, and goosebumps on my body hearing the whole of the hall (about 2,000 people) singing Zadok The Priest with an live orchestra.
What a day! As some of you might know, the inspiration lady who was leading this project, Katy Jones, sadly died a few weeks ago. I couldn’t help observe what a wonderful legacy she has left. Lucky children.
As part of our schools tours we always make sure we work with some non mainstream pupils. In the past we have been to Great Ormond Street Hospital and Willow Dene and this time we were lucky enough to visit The Stephen Hawking School in East London. This school was suggested to us by our friend Hannah who used to work there, thanks Hannah! This school caters for primary school children with severe learning difficulties and well, needless to say, the work they do there is amazing. We were blown away by the care that goes on there. Each child is lovingly nurtured and encouraged in their own development. For the day we were there we did open play sessions with the children and played them some of the Ten Pieces by singing the pieces down the telephone rig or playing tunes on the bells.
The children loved playing with the different aspects of The Rig, I think the cutlery windchime was the most popular, even being played with feet by children that couldn’t use their arms. There were some great samba grooves going on and we all got dancing at one point, loads of fun!
We loved working with the children and very much hope we can go back there! It’s an amazing school with wonderful staff. If you would like to know anything else about the school, please visit their website here: http://www.stephenhawking.towerhamlets.sch.uk/welcome_to_our_school.html
Photos taken by Steve Foster at Stephen Hawking School and with grateful thanks to the parents and carers that let us use these photos.
We were so thrilled so received a second round of funding from Arts Council England to work on part two of the BBC Ten Pieces project. In autumn 2014 we had put together a schools tour that covered five of the ten pieces and this second tour enabled us to run workshops covering the other five pieces.
We used the same set up as last time but with some new Rig adaptations from our fabulous new Blacksmith, Steve.
In the workshops the children learnt about programmable music boxes and bone conduction as we played ‘Zadok The Priest’ by Handel through our Music Box Mini Rig.
On the hand bells we looked at ‘Night On A Bare Mountain’ by Mussorgsky (we all practiced our Russian accents saying his name!) and ‘Mars’ by Holst. The children learnt that the thickness of the metal changes the pitch of the bell.
We covered ‘Short Ride In A Fast Machine’ by John Adams and other general musical questions in the ‘Pairs’ playing cards game. The children remembered facts that they had read on the cards and we talked about these later in the workshop.
Lastly, we composed our own body percussion piece, inspired by Anna Meridith’s ‘Connect It’. The children created their own sounds and movements within the piece and with the older children we added the idea of a musical canon. They were all so thrilled that they had created their own piece of music, and were excited to carry this on with their friends in the playground.
Phew! Well done everyone involved – another successful Rig tour!
We spent a wonderful 2 days at Plumcroft School where we worked with lots of wonderful children and made a video to prove it!
They have put it up on their website with a lovely description of our time together…