Monday, 8 December 2014

Singing up a Storm! - Pits, Ponies, People and Stories.

The Pits, Ponies, People and Stories project came about after pupils from previously coal mining communities were found not to know firstly, what coal is and secondly, that their town had a deep history in the industry.  The project aims to reawaken our awareness of local history and how our own lives link to the past.
My task this week was to run a songwriting workshop (with the brilliant David Roddie of UWS), in collaboration with Pits, Ponies, People and Stories, that encouraged young people to relate to their history in a meaningful way.  So with 8 pupils who have chosen to study music, David and I asked the question: 'How do our lives link to the past?' with the added requirement, lets write a song about it!
I wanted to call this post 'so anyone an write a song', but that would belie how amazing the students at Stonelaw High School were and how fully they engaged with the task.


We used various stimuli to spark ideas within the workshop: old money, toy ponies & trains, a hurricane lamp, a compass.  We contrasted these with some modern day items to find out: What does the past mean to you?  They had lots to say in response.

And in just 3 and a half hours a song had been written and this performance took place...


The pupils involved in this songwriting project are (alphabetically): Sean Dempster (drums); Hazel Douglas (voice); Andrew Friel (electric guitar); Alistair Grant (sax); Heather McMillan (clarinet); Daisy Miles (acoustic guitar); Sophie O'Mailley (sax) and Eilidh Smith (voice).  And we were hosted by J.Swan their talented music teacher (thank you).

The lyrics to 'Retrace my Name' are below:

Retrace my Name
Verse 1
Bm A G G4
High up in the eaves of the House,
Are the shadows that once were yours,
Memories aching, breaking out,
Resonating through the doors,
An old familiar face, an old familiar place,
Time ticks by you stay the same,

Chorus
Em A Bm G A Bm
Help me retrace my name,
Time ticks by you stay the same,
Help me retrace my name,
Don’t you feel the, don’t you feel the change.

Verse 2
Eyes that are blind, but I’ve seen,
A million faces, a million streets,
Looking through the pane of glass,
Present now becomes the past,
Sympathetic hands, of an old decrepit man,
Time ticks by stuck in the past.

Chorus
Musical Break

Verse 3
Blowing off the dust of the past,
See the face behind the mask,
Start my pulse once more,
I have a purpose like before,
Sparkling silver chain, Ticking tocking frame,
Time ticks by and I remain.

Chorus x2 to fade.

From what the students said, two of them had written songs in the past and a number of them were in self formed bands.  With the amount of motivation and effort they put into this workshop, I hope that they go on to write further songs.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day (and working with Davey - thank you).
It is quite possible that there are 8 more songwriters in the world, so watch this space!

(Please see my next blog for an in-depth look at how this song came about.)

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