TICE Music Insight Stage with North Tyneside Music Education Hub students 

Sam, TICE’s Music mentor, had a lot planned for the Insight stage in Music at John Spence High School. But this treat of a day wasn’t just for John Spence pupils, North Tyneside Music Education Hub brought together a selection of talented students from Whitley Bay High School, Burnside High School and George Stephenson High School to come together as one big collective music team.

Warm ups

The first tasks of the day included a few warm ups and ice breakers, so we could really get to know each other as a group. One of which included the ‘I am an egg’ which entailed everyone starting as an egg and travelling around the room, communicating with each other to develop from an egg into a bird and then further into a ‘honourable present being’ – you certainly had to be quick and on the ball for this one.

TICE Programme

We then learnt the aspects of the TICE programme and the different stages to potentially progress on to. Overall the ‘Insight’ stage has about 60 music individuals partaking in it, to then hopefully progress onto the ‘Explore’ stage. The final stage would then be the ‘Create’ stage, working with other musicians and partakers of the programme, to create an original piece for a performance at the end of the project.

“Throughout the course, you will improve your musical and creative skills. You will also gain an insight into career and further study options and meet some inspiring musicians along the way. By the end of the course you will have written and performed an original song to a live audience of 300 people and will have made the first steps towards music becoming not only your passion, but also your career.”

Music Industry

Carrying on with the morning activities, the group gained knowledge into various examples of available Further Education and Higher Education courses to assist in progressing into a career in a desired musical area. They also gained a lot of insight into, really learning the industry and the various job roles that can be obtained within a musical career. For example; Artists, Manager, Teaching, songwriter, publisher, record shop boss, lawyer, and many more. To develop this further everyone was given a specific job role within the industry and, sharing with the group, had to come up with a name and their idea of the job description this individual would have, including what their potential salary may be. One of the answers given, that I personally found impressive, was a description and salary example of a Record Shop Boss;

“This salary would vary depending on the size of the Record Shop and the success of it, for example a shop such as HMV would have more income than a small independent record shop”

I thought this was a well thought out example, showing how each job can also vary depending on the success of the role/business.

Playing Rhythms

‘Teach them the Juba’ was quite the skilled rhythm game, but didn’t faze this group after a couple practices and breaking it up, they had it down. Firstly, Sam taught us the clapping rhythm using our hands and knees. Whilst we carried on playing this rhythm we then began to chant the ‘Juba’ over the top, “Juba this and Juba that Juba killed the yellow cat” as we progressed through the activity we learnt that we were overlapping 2 different time signatures at the same time. In doing this also created ‘Trochaic Tetrameters’, which we all learnt is a meter in poetry, which is a long syllable followed by a short syllable. Learning this helped the group to be able to spot the stresses in Sam’s examples, whilst also giving them the skills and knowledge to be able to incorporate this skill into the music they make.

What makes a song?

Just before a quick break the pupils, in small groups, were given 6 first letters of words that are elements that make a song. They had to figure out what they thought the elements may be to create a great song. Impressively, most the group knew each of the elements, them being, Melody, Rhythm, Meter, Harmony, Key, and Lyrics

Djembe

Time to play some more rhythms. Using a mixture of sizes of Djembes, the group learnt a mixture of rhythms by following some patterns on the board.

Blue = One Syllable = Quarter note (Crotchet)

Yellow = Two Syllables = 2 Eighth Note (Quaver)

Pelican = Three Syllables = Triplets

Coca Cola = Four Syllables = Sixteenth Notes

After playing these rhythms as a group, Sam split the group into two. He then had them, using the skills they gained from the previous rhythm game ‘Teach them the Juba’, play two different rhythm patterns overlapping them over the top of each other. Creating their own Polyrhythms.

Music Making

After lunch and a vocal warm up, the main music activity got underway. In already selected groups, it was time to create some music. The whole process of this activity was to make it solely independent for the groups to create their own songs with only a slight bit of help here and there. Before splitting off into their groups, Sam suggested to pick one of the four category universal themes in writing music; dance, love, fight, cry. Having this as a starting point for each group seemed to work as a great foundation for two of the groups.

The first group I went to observe was the only group with a full drum kit in it. As well as this, there were 2 guitarists, 1 bassist and 1 vocalist. It was an initial instinct with this group to start with the percussion aspect and get a solid drum beat to work off. From doing, this they found themselves going down the theme of ‘fight’, and discussed their mutual appeal to sounds of the band ‘The White Stripes’. What I found with this group was that there wasn’t an overall leader, they worked well as a group with similar interests and views, which helped them to be able to decide musical elements as a group.

The next group I went along to had 2 guitars, 1 keys, vocals, and an added percussion. The difference with this group was that they worked well with an initial leader. To start this group off, the individual that took the lead suggested a chord sequence they could use which then enabled the other group members to have something they could develop on with their skills. The lyrics that this group created were quite creative, writing about the impact of what music has on themselves and their lives.

The third group initially wanted to use the theme of ‘dance’ for their song. But as they were creating they found that they were leaning towards more of a ‘love’ song. They started with piano chords which helped the vocalist start to think of ideas for lyrics and melodies to suit the chord sequence. The guitarist and Ukulele player were then able to add their ideas for the song once there was a solid idea in place. They learnt from their progress in this activity that an initial idea of something can easily change once being developed as a group.

The last group had a mix of elements for their song, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, hand percussions, one vocal melody line and two vocal harmony lines. They could add a lot of different textures to the song because of the 2 guitars and the 3 vocalists. This group had a lot of ideas from a few members of the group, but could work together to be able to incorporate all the ideas.

It quickly then got to the end of the day and time for each group to perform their written pieces to each other, it was great to see and hear not only such a mix of sounds from the groups but the amount they had written, but didn’t sounds rushed, within such a short space of time of 1.5 hours!

Looking forward to seeing the progress into the Explore Stage!