Based at the heart of where young musicians are emerging in the North East, Newcastle College, #TICEMusic were welcomed by the staff with open arms and were ready for a fun-filled day of tours and experiences which could potentially shape their career paths.

First big question which struck the students as they entered the creative arts department building – Why study music? What are the benefits? What is the outcome? Well, this was when Paul Stuckey (Programme Leader for Arts in Partnership and Lecturer in Music) kindly stepped in and offered a tour of the facilities to the students. Whilst showcasing the sound proofed rooms, high-tech equipment and performance spaces, Paul openly discussed what the college provides in terms of course content. Students responded enthusiastically to the opportunities available in studying music including enhancing skills in production, tech and performance.

After an insight into the post 16+ musical world, it was time to put these facilities to use for the main Explore Stage task. Students were separated into 5 teams, all different schools and skill sets. Sam gave these groups the challenge to compose an alternate cover version of a released song – firstly, doing an example of his own to give a taste of what he’s after.

It was fantastic to see that these groups had already prepped beforehand, showing so much enthusiasm with what they could do to these previously released tracks.

The afternoon was spent fiddling with song structures, tones, timbres and tempos. After working closely in teams, with the help and support of Sam, they were finally ready to take the NCL College stage. Their performances were set up as if it was the real deal – professional lighting, sound checks and all of the other intricacies involved in being a performer. It was fantastic for the students to experience what it’s like to be a live performer on a regular basis – it’s all about the prep and getting that right sound to get the best outcome.

Group 1: Skinny Love – Bon Iver

A classic songwriting tracks transformed into an acoustic ballad, still abling the emotion to be the main theme throughout. Cleverly molding a male and female voice together, giving the song more of a narrative. 

Groups 2 & 3: Shape of You – Ed Sheeran

Taking a very well-known current pop song and stripping away the electronic elements, almost sounding like a BBC Live Lounge edition and allowing a chance for other instruments to shine, instead of the beat.

Group 4: When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

Taking a very emotional pop ballad and giving it more depth and fullness with the addition of guitar and bass. Female vocals giving the song more of a youthful and contemporary take on the track.

Group 5: Halo – Beyoncé

Completely turning this pop ballad on its head, with still a strong female vocal but with a reggae theme – giving it a positive, more upbeat vibe.

As you can see, the variety was fantastic and it was the perfect way to end the second stage of #TICEMusic! Thank you to Newcastle College and all the schools for your enthusiasm and support. With the standards set high in this workshop, there’s so much excitement to Create for the Final Show…