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Community Songwriting

Published on April 2nd, 2014 | by Jennifer Jones

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“The Cheer Starts Here” Listen to Braehead Primary’s Commonwealth Themed Song

Below is a guest blog post from Creative Voices tutor Robert Maitland, a recording artist and community song writer who worked with singer songwriter Becci Wallace on the Ayrshire Communty Songwriting element of the project on the 18th and 19th of March, 2014.

Braehead Primary P6 pupils came to the UWS Ayr Campus on two consecutive days to take part in a songwriting workshop.

This was the first time that any of these 10 year old children had written a song. We began on the first day by asking them about their favourite songs and singers and then we performed some of them, the children soon joined in. Next, we looked at the structure and style of the songs they had chosen and spoke about the component parts, explaining any areas that needed it. This process gave us a style and genre that they all liked, and the theme for the song was agreed on by everyone. They all completely immersed themselves in the whole process, taking part in the rhyming games and creating a 1st verse prior to lunch. By the end of the first day all but two lines of the complete song had been written.

We all sang through the song several times with acoustic guitar accompaniment. Several titles had been discussed and a vote on the winning title would take place the following day.

I prepared and recorded an arrangement that night.

Day 2 began by filling in the missing lines. Recording equipment had been set up in the room. Percussion instruments were given to all of the children and rhythm parts practiced, including glockenspiel. They then listened to the recorded track and sang along to it. A guide vocal was laid down to aid the children for their vocal recordings. They were recorded two at a time and some amazing vocal performances were captured. In the time left videos were taken of them performing and dancing to the song they had just recorded. The new song created is called ‘The Cheer Starts Here (Commonwealth Chant)’ and can be listened below.

You can watch the kids perform below:

The University press release is below:

Pupils at Braehead Primary School in Ayr recently recorded a song to celebrate the 2014 Commonwealth Games during a two-day visit to University of the West of Scotland’s Ayr Campus.

During their visit on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 March 2014 the nine primary six pupils wrote and recorded their song, ‘The Cheer Starts Here’, with the help of UWS colleagues and MA Songwriting and Performance students.

The visit was arranged as part of the University’s Digital Commonwealth project, which aims to develop, support and curate a Scotland-wide creative and community-led response in the lead up to, during and after Glasgow 2014.

David Scott, Programme Leader of the University’s MA Songwriting and Performance, helped to co-ordinate this visit.

He said: “We were delighted to welcome these pupils on to our Ayr Campus and give them the opportunity to record their song, which celebrates Glasgow 2014. Their response to the two-day event was fantastic and I was delighted to see so many budding songwriters and performers.”

Councillor Margaret Toner of South Ayrshire Council said: “What a wonderful opportunity for our young people to work alongside UWS students and staff. The facilities are marvellous and we are delighted that our young people have been able to access these. Working with specialists as part of Curriculum for Excellence brings out the best in our young people and we hope this is the first of many joint ventures.”

Professor David McGillivray of University of the West of Scotland’s Skillset Creative Media Academy is the project lead on the Digital Commonwealth project. The UWS project, which has received funding worth £167,977 from the Big Lottery Fund, will showcase the rich tapestry of Scotland’s response to the Commonwealth Games.

Professor McGillivray said: “This visit links perfectly to our Digital Commonwealth project, which sees us engaging with people across Scotland to get them actively involved in Glasgow 2014 experience.

“Using our expertise in documentary film, creative writing and community song-writing the Digital Commonwealth project will deliver three creative voice projects involving participatory workshops and benefitting individuals and groups in four areas around the University’s campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley.”

Through a number of workshop and training activities, including a nationwide schools programme and networked community media clusters, the Digital Commonwealth project is focusing on enhancing skills, capabilities and confidence to develop media literate communities to capture and record the ‘untold’ stories of the event. This will build the largest digital resource around a national sporting event of this size.

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