Written by Louis Wild
This year, for #TICE2020, we have seven schools from across the North East involved in TICE Music: Burnside College, Marden High School, Kenton School and schools from North Tyneside Music Education Hub (Churchill Community College, Longbenton High School, Monkseaton High School, Kings Priory School). All of which had a class full of wonderfully talented, aspiring young musicians ready to grasp the opportunity before them. It was the perfect setting for Music mentor, Sam Burt, to step in and give an enlightening introduction to the music industry. We had Louis Wild, musician and student at Prudhoe Community High School, stop by and document the day. Here’s what happened.
After initial introductions were out of the way, Sam got the class’ creative juices flowing with a series of quick musical games, focused around rhythms and syllables: a favourite of the class emerged to be a classic relay game…with a twist. Instead of a phrase being passed along a line of people, it was a rhythm, with the aim being to keep it intact until it reached the final person who did their best to transcribe it accurately, all while competing with the opposing team! Another favourite was the “Patting Juba” song, which seems simple on the surface, but the cross-rhythms between the percussion and the vocals can easily catch you out! After learning the song, the students dissected it, considering its meaning, historical context, and even learnt about trochaic tetrameter – the pattern of strong and weak beats upon which the lyrics are based. In the true spirit of TICE, the students then had a go at making their own lyrics in the trochaic tetrameter style, producing some very creative ideas!
Whilst enjoyable, these tasks equally prepared the students for what was to come later in the day where, in small groups, they would be given a brief to make the music and lyrics for their own original song.
But before all that, on the agenda was a glimpse at the staggeringly wide range of careers available in the music industry, varying from the more obvious performer and teacher roles to composition, production, artist and repertoire representative, sound engineer, and many (many) more, some of which may not have previously been thought of as a possible career path.
Mentor Sam gave a valuable illustration of what jobs he has done in the music industry: a library music composer (under the name Burt Bros), producer, teacher, sound designer, and multiple artist projects (namely Border Scout, amongst others), proving that the music industry does not confine you to just one role.
“The most interesting thing I learnt on the insight stage was sound design, before the insight stage I had no idea how the music for movie trailers or sound effects, I thought this was interesting because it is crazy how you can make music out of pretty much everything, I have left with not only more knowledge but also a new interest.”
Isobel Soulsby, Kings Priory School
After a well-earned break, the students delved into one of these fields specifically – songwriting. First, Sam explained that the vast majority of songs fit into one of the following four universal categories: fight, love, dance, and cry, and after a quick look at the current UK Top 10, the students were able to place each song into one of these categories. However, it is never as simple as it first seems and it was interesting to see which songs utilised overlaps of different emotions to their advantage.
It is rather telling that the most successful songs are the ones that appeal to listeners through these four primal emotions.
Critical listening is a skill of utmost importance to a musician, and the students tried their hand at it by analysing Billie Eilish’s hit “Bad Guy”. Not only did they consider what emotional categories the song best fit into but also what musical elements (such as harmony, melody, and production techniques) give its unique character.
After these tasks and some inspiration in the form of one of Sam’s original songs, the students were ready for the substantial task of creating a song of their own. They were sorted into groups, given their own specific briefs, and let loose with all the resources of the department at their disposal. The newly formed bands started transforming their fledgeling ideas into melodies, chords, lyrics, rhythms, and riffs, and in no time at all, they were ready to perform. All the songs created were remarkable, especially given the time constraints, and, importantly, they all represented the brief that they were set to well. It was fantastic to see all the students supporting and encouraging each other, and it is something that we look forward to seeing more of in TICE Explore Stage.
“The most interesting I’ve learnt throughout the whole insight stage was that there’s a lot of different career paths for working in the music industry and it’s not just all about being a famous singer or musician and that there’s a lot of work behind television, film and song. There’s a variety of different careers to consider which is quite exciting because it means I have all of these possibilities to explore.”
Scarlett Heppell, Churchill Community College