Last month, the music group studied Edward Lear’s The Owl the Pussycat in the morning, so when the time came for them to set the poem to music in the afternoon they were familiar with it, having already identified potential cue words.
Creating incidental music is a concept that comes readily to this musically experienced group, and students are able to choose instruments with the right sounds using their own judgement and with confidence. For this piece, Sachelle chose the ocean drum to represent Sea and Sand, Harish chose the triangle for the Ring, while guiros and shakers were found for the gobble of the Turkey, and a glockenspiel for the Moon. Joyce then had a brain wave – to use a rain stick to represent the 'crackle' of stars! The students work together to make decisions, aided by the tutor and music volunteers who encourage, enable and support, as required.
As the composition builds, everyone is drawn in, absorbed and taking ownership of their music, and there is great excitement and realisation of what they are creating. A Beatles song was used for the owl to sing, and a waltz invented to dance 'by the light of the moon'. Students who don’t want to dance can choose to beat time to the music instead.
Students volunteer to take turns to conduct the piece, which is a complex task – as the narration begins they have to remember to pause at the cue words and to indicate to the student with the correct instrument that should be playing at that point in the composition. All students become aware that they have an important role in the whole scheme and must continue to listen and watch constantly. Sequencing, communication skills and teamwork all come into play.
As the group gets ready to perform, there was once again the sense of true ownership and excitement. While some students never miss a beat, others need support to stay on track but they all know they are involved in a unique creation.
It was certainly a fine day of music making!