BBC Ten Pieces schools workshop tour 2014

What an exciting adventure we’ve just had!

Funded by the generous people at Arts Council England, we have visited 10 schools across South London over the last 6 weeks and conducted wacky musical workshops based around the fabulous BBC’s Ten Pieces project that aims to encourage a generation of children to get creative with classical music. We took 5 of the published Ten Pieces and together learnt about their composers, instruments, melodies, rhythms and fun facts!

Team Rig having all the blurry fun

Team Rig having all the blurry fun

We used our Bells Mini Rig to play the tunes of Grieg’s ‘In the hall of the mountain king’; Beethoven’s ‘Fifth Symphony’ and Mozart’s ‘Horn Concerto No.4’; we used our improved Rhythm Mini Rig to improvise storm sounds like in Britten’s ‘Storm from Peter Grimes’; we learnt facts about all 5 pieces by playing games using our bespoke playing cards; we learnt the scary and thrilling stories of Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ and the Grieg by playing a quiz; and we heard the beautiful melody of the Stravinsky through our *NEW* Music Box Mini Rig which has 1940’s car horn ear trumpets at each end…..and all of this in an hour…. pheeeew!!

Our new and improved Rhythm Rig!

Our new and improved Rhythm Rig!

Filming the music box Rig

Filming the music box Rig

But that’s not all… our website now has 3 more ‘How To…’ video guides for everyone to watch and you can see a video that shows us leading the workshops in Plumstead School! Even if you didn’t participate in the workshops, have a look and try making yourself an instrument at home – what about a home made Hosepipe Horn?!

Here is our video taken at Plumcroft primary school of us running our workshops…


Filming our ‘How To…’ guides

We now have 4 more videos up on our website filmed and edited by the incredible Clare Greenaway.

Our 2 new ‘How To…’ video guides will get you creating music at home for less than a fiver. Ever wondered how to make your own French horn from a hose pipe or hear the chiming of bells through oven tray head phones?? Well, wonder no more!

And here is our summary video of everything we learnt in The Rig‘s BBC Ten Pieces workshops in South London primary schools…

But, well, that’s not all – we also had a brilliant video filmed live on one of our workshop days at Plumcroft primary school… have a look!

Woweeeeee… thank you Clare!

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Rig science day!

How lucky we are here at The Rig!

Last week we met the wonderful Dr Mark Richards – head of Physics outreach at Imperial College London.

As part of our grant from Arts Council England, we wanted to increase our knowledge in regards to sound waves and the conduction of sound and have an expert look at some of our designs.

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We spent a marvellous and informative 3 hours with Dr Richards who inspired us with his extensive knowledge on the subject. If only all Physics teachers were as handsome and charismatic, we may have signed up for science sooner!

Learning about sound waves

Prior to this, we had taken a trip to the Science Museum to gain inspiration from the experiments in their Launch Pad learning zone for children. We found a sound experiment very similar to our Oven Tray Headphones that uses a piece of copper rod connected to music that you clenched your teeth around to hear the music through bone conduction.

Sound experiments at The Science Museum, London

Sound experiments at The Science Museum, London

Copper/sound experiment

Copper/sound experiment

Copper sound experiments at The Science Museum

Copper sound experiments at The Science Museum

So now, fellow Riggy Wiggers – we’re all scienced up, and can tell you all about the waves created by our Water Gongs or why the copper tube conducts the sound in our Music Box Mini Rig!

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Summer 2014 – Festival madness

Wow!!!! What a summer that was! We were privileged to be at a bunch of cracking festivals and The Rig was played and enjoyed by thousands of children. Big shout out to all the lovely festival people at Mycenae House, Cornbury, Chilled In A Field, WOMAD, The Geffrye Museum and End of The Road. Photos to come soon. It’s been a blast!

Edit: Photos all uploaded, go find yourself!


Playing a hosepipe like a trumpet!

Here at The Rig we are constantly looking for new ideas and new ways to make music. For one of our latest projects we are turning hosepipes into French Horns.

Here is one of Becky’s friends, street performer Pete Dobbing, playing one of these in his street show during Edinburgh Festival 2014.

Launch of the new Mini Rigs – The Mini Rigs Collection

The Mini Rigs Collection: what every Rig should be wearing this season.

May we present our four new Mini Rigs!
1. The Water Gong and Victorian Tin Bath Mini Rig
2. The Rhythm Mini Rig
3. The Telephone Mini Rig
4. The Bells, The Bells!!!
These 4 new Mini Rigs were generously funded by the fabulous people at Arts Council England to help us develop The Rig to be accessible to all.  We designed the Mini Rigs so they can be played by wheelchair users and small children and have tried to cater for people with differing disabilities, for example creating booklets with large print, braille, and pictures with describing words. We have created drum beaters that have foam handles and have one Mini Rig (The Bells, The Bells!!!) which can be played with your hands for those with limited motor co-ordination. We have a small metal bucket version of the Victorian Tin Bath which can be lifted into the lap, and we can unscrew the blue buckets from the side of The Rhythm Rig to be placed on the laps of those in wheelchairs.
On our Bells Mini Rig, the notes on the sheet music matches the colour of each bell so you can just play your ‘colour’ if you don’t read music. We have also numbered the coloured bells to help those with colour blindness.
The Rhythm Rig
We have once again tried to get some sciency bits in, ‘sneaky education’ styleee as Becky likes to call it, by having booklets about sound waves and the science behind how we hear, as factoids for people to tell each other through the Telephone Mini Rig. Our new Water Gong Mini Rig shows how sound waves travel in water and our Victorian Tin Bath shows how sound travels and amplifies in metal.
Last but definitely not least we have The Rhythm Mini Rig as a good ‘ole bang along bit, cos every Rig should have a blue drum!
We dare you not to learn something from this!!
Many thanks to Marie-Cecile Embleton for superb photos as always and exceptionally quick editing. To Stefan Cuthbert Baker and Clare Louise Greenaway for the loan of the studio lights. A big shout out to Mick Simmons for helping us with this project and for being on the receiving end of many a phone call that goes something like, “Can we use yacht varnish on stainless steel to make it scratch proof” at 8.30am in the morning. Suzanne Bull and Gideon from disability charity Attitude is Everything for all their friendly help, advice and education. Our Occupational Therapist friend, Tai Frater for her help and advice. Ray at Sunshine International Arts for being so lovely and hiring out his studio for the photoshoot. Our flatmates for putting up with us turning our houses into Rig workshops over the last three weeks and all our other amazing friends and family for all their help and encouragement. We hope you all get to come and play on the Mini Rigs very soon!
The Bells, The Bells!!!
Lastly, people have asked us if making The Rig suitable for wheelchair users and those with disabilities is the way we are going forward with this project i.e turn it exclusively into a music disability project and the short answer is no.
We believe that music (and life) should be accessible for all and it is society that needs to change to allow those with disabilities to interact as easily as those without disabilities do. This is called the Social Model of Disability and we suggest you have a quick Google of this concept. This is something we have learnt about during our journey and by making our Mini Rigs accessible for all, we are taking our own small steps in improving our social world. We welcome any suggestions on how we can improve what we have already done.

If you would like any information on The Rig or how you can go about making your own unique projects suitable for those with disabilities etc, please do get in touch, we are much more ‘copyleft’ than ‘copyright’ type people, so please, do contact us and we’d be very happy to chat to you and share our learning.

Ducks in water







Having a play with bells at The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Last week we had the pleasure of going to down to meet Kathryn Hughes, one of the Directors of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in East London. Becky had met her at the Music Education Expo earlier in the year and was wowed by the amazing bells on display.

We arranged a meeting with the lovely and very knowledgeable Kathryn, who very kindly let us play on and showed us a range of hand bells that might be suitable for The Rig and we learnt about some of the amazing craftsmanship that goes into making these unique and world class instruments.

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The Whitechapel Bell Foundry has been going for 500 years and is England’s oldest manufacturing business. It also made the Big Ben Bell. How impressive! We can’t wait to work with these guys in the future and look forward to the day that we can adorn The Rig with these wonderful instruments!

Upcycling Pianos!

Unfortunately we all know that, however grand, pianos don’t last forever. When your old piano’s had its day, however, there are tons of fun things that you can do with it to give it a new life. If you’ve played The Rig, you’ll have noticed that we’ve incorporated some piano keys in to be played in a new way – here are some other great ideas. Like the idea of a piano waterfall? How about a piano bed, book case or bar? Check out some cool ideas on how to convert your old piano into something nifty on this Upcycling Pianos Pinterest page.

piano waterfall

Becky’s cat, Tane, helping in the making of The Rig

Helping is quite a strong term, but Becky’s fluffy Siberian Winter Cat, called Tane, kept playing hide and seek under the bed frame of The Rig which we spray painted black last summer. When you don’t realise a cat is under the dust sheets and then it suddenly starts moving and meowing, it takes you by surprise!

It goes without saying that Becky is a bit embarrassed about her ‘cat conversations’ but the cute factor overrode her pride, so please enjoy it at her expense.

Thousands play The Rig at Greenbelt Festival – August 2013

Following on from our exciting day in Bethnal Green, we packed the stuff into the van and hot footed it down to Cheltenham for one of the biggest festivals of the year, Greenbelt.

This is a lovely, friendly Christian festival, although the multi faith and arts angle is everywhere to see. What was also evident to see was how well organised and super safe and friendly this festival was. Amy was still recovering from having her appendix out a few weeks previously and we were well looked after in the disabled camping area. We arrived in the pouring rain and the loveliest man, called Vincent, who had been going to Greenbelt for 40 years, helped us put up our tent and made us all hot chocolate at 11pm at night. What a dude!

This is a big festival, with about 35,000 people attending at Cheltenham Racecourse and we had over 2,500 of them play The Rig over the course of the weekend. This was our biggest crowd yet and we were so chuffed by how loved and popular our wonderful creation was. WE thought it was an amazing musical playground, but to have so many people play and keep coming back to play it over the weekend spoke volumes about its popularity and our crazy but brilliant idea!!

We had one adorable boy who spent about an hour playing with the wind up music box and the Victorian tin bath. When you hold the wind up music box against the side of the bath, it resonates round the metal and amplifies the sound. Once we’d shown him how it worked, he very quickly picked it up and spent ages mesmerised by it and showing others how to use it. I think we might have changed bath times for the better for this little boy!

Winding up the music box

Winding up the music box

Have a look through the rest of the photos here.