Since half term we’ve been piloting our first online schools projects over video conferencing software to smart boards in classrooms.
As always Craigroyston Community High School are fantastic partners who were up for helping us face the challenge of how to do this. Music teachers Rachel Ponte and Laura Kemp were fantastic to collaborate with and their patience and drive at such a difficult time was really impressive.
We ended up running 2 x songwriting projects and a digital music production course over 8 weeks.
It was a very steep learning curve and absolutely fascinating to see how it all unfolded. It was definitely a situation that required ‘learning by doing’!
We had things set up so that our video and audio was shared on the smartboard and there was a webcam and mic in the classroom so that we could partially see and hear the pupils.
One challenge was that it was very difficult to see or hear the pupils clearly, although they could see and hear us well.
To overcome this we started using the idea sharing platform ‘Padlet’ (see image below) so that pupils could log in separately and participate via text on there. This became very effective very quickly as pupils could use their own phones or school iPads to do this.
This meant that we were able to gather a lot of lyrics, questions, suggestions and feedback in a very accessible way.
Pupils were able to use keyboards in the classroom to suggest melodies for the songwriting.
What became really magical was that we were able to invite different musicians from Tinderbox Collective in to class each week who were able to talk about their creative process and their careers as well as help us record our songs.
You can hear some of the tracks we’ve recorded in the project so far below.
I know I’ll Always Come Back Stronger
The lyrics for this song came out of a conversation we started having about lockdown and how everything is going for everyone. A pupil wrote the main hook on a keyboard in the classroom which the class thought would sound good on trumpet. We were able to ask Emily Greenwood to come in and play the trumpet part as well as dropping a trombone solo in there. Someone suggested keyboard so we asked Jack Nissan to drop some Hammond on it. Xander Lyons helped us to polish up the lyrics a bit and put a great vocal on for us. The whole thing was finished off by the Tinderbox Backline veterans, Anna Fraser on drums and Leo Bacica on bass. It’s amazing what you can do on a combination of phones and laptops!
Corona Got Us In A Vice
This song almost started as a challenge from the pupils. There was an incredible mixture of thoughts in the padlet chat. Very serious points being raised about mental health as well as jokey rhyming posts that were almost trying to sabotage the song. Amazingly it has all come together into something that covers all of those things. Once we had our initial lyrical ideas we enlisted the help of Elek Kish to help us polish up and record the first verse. One of the pupils wrote the hook on a keyboard which quickly became an intense synth line. Matt Tulloch aka Mercurius joined in to help us with the 2nd verse and then Claire Docherty took on some of the pupils ideas into the vocal part.
Over the 8 weeks we used the launchpad app on the school iPads to explore beginning digital music production. Launchpad is a fantastic free iOS sampler app that has a very simple interface for beginners but really high quality industry standard samples. We were able to explore lots of creative ideas and tools over the course. Each of the pupils submitted a recording at the end of the project. There are a selection below.