Music mentor Sam Burt arrived at Norham High School, ukulele in hand, ready to work with young talent for the Insight Stage of this year’s TICE Programme from both Norham High School and Churchill Community College. This is the first time that #TICEMusic has worked with a Norham/Churchill mixed group – we have no doubt that they are going to make this year extra special.

The day began with a few warm-ups, particularly one called ‘I am an Egg Warmer’, one of Sam’s iconic ice breakers. The silliest, craziest and most enjoyable of games which left the room in hysterics. The perfect way to ease the tension and remember that to be part of this journey is to have fun! As the students sat down to cool off, Sam enthusiastically introduced TICE and what we offer young people who are interested in the creative and digital industries.

Sam got the class up on their feet again for another exercise called ‘Name Game’ – again, another introductory exercise primarily for Sam to get to know everyone individually. Of course, as they were told to go around in circles and say their names faster, it almost turned into mush!

This was followed up by another exercise, popular over the past 8 years of TICE – the ‘I don’t like you’ chant. The students are expected to face each other in two opposite lines.

“I don’t like you!”

“Don’t you like me!?”

As the they continue to talk back to each other, they are told to cut down each word one by one and shuffle towards one another every time until eventually…

“You!”

“Me!”

“You!”

“Me!”

“AAAAAAAAH!”

Nose to nose, laughing at each other. To this day, the exercise continues to be a fan favourite and consistently hilarious.

Then it was back to Sam doing all the talking, this time being about his career in the music industry. All students were completely immersed in the story as Sam explained that his interest in being a musician never stemmed from a young age and decisions on what to do with his life was never certain – many can relate to this. A very realistic approach to what young people can struggle with as they progress after high school.

What many students are not exposed to is the reality of the music industry, particularly aspects involving the music business. Sam wanted to highlight over these things very briefly in the hope that it will encourage young musicians to start thinking in context. Sam discussed with the students about potential salaries, definitions of roles and the difference between mastering and publishing rights. Of course, these things seem bland for someone who just wants to perform but with these concepts in mind, their potential to make it in the music industry will increase.

The day was followed up with another musical exercise, known as ‘Juba’

Juba this and Juba that, Juba killed the yellow cat…

Again, another activity which remains memorable and loved. With this song, they learn rhythmic techniques and how to musically multi-task.

The students were then asked to think about lyrics – something which is a memorable part of the ‘Juba’ song. What are the elements of a song? What are the lyrical themes that tend to occur? This struck a huge discussion amongst the class, all were eager to figure out the components to success.

With their new-found knowledge in mind, Sam set them the most important task yet which will determine their progression to the next stage. Working in groups, they were asked to use all available instruments to come up with a chord progression and topline melody – in other words, begin to write a song. For the next couple of hours, students split off to their bands and worked together tirelessly to construct something they would be proud to share with the class at the end of the day. Sam stopped by each group throughout this process, giving a helping hand and encouraging them to use the creative freedom they were given.

Many students, much like any other musician, were nervous to share something which belonged to them. It was an incredible difficult and challenging task to undertake but of course, however the Norham and Churchill students were nothing short of fantastic. They managed to create some impressive musical content in such a limited time, showing enthusiasm and belief in their ability. We very much look forward to seeing these students progress onto the next stage. But for now, let’s hope this day encouraged most songwriters, performers and business elites in the making!