The sounds of song and singing swooshed and echoed through the woods of Bestwood last autumn and winter. And with spring, the little buds of music and song came up again with our Wild Sounds: Getting Louder! project starting again!
We have written about our project before – The Woods Are Alive with the Sound of? Music! – and we want to give you an update on what has been going on since Christmas:
As most other provisions, Wild Things missed the woods for the first part of the year due to the national lockdown and school closures.
We first reemerged in late February with our first two groups and brought our music making back in March. Rob Green and Ben Welch from the Nottingham based theatre company Sheep Soup have joined us again on some of our sessions and have helped the children to explore the sounds of the woods, the children’s voices and their musicality.
It has once again been an inspiration and a joy to watch the children’s musical talents and interests unfold and connect with the woodland.
We have had beautiful songs written by children who were inspired by their surroundings and the life in the woods; children had an opportunity to use a loop pedal and combine different sounds they made or heard and create improvised and playful compositions. We were exploring the materials the woodland offers and how they can be used to create music. And we delighted in some dancing and musical games as well!
The music sessions led by Rob and Ben gave the woods a different, more playful feel and that gave the children an opportunity to notice the woodland in a different way and to express themselves in ways beyond language.
For some children, that was a gift: as we work with a lot of children who are newly arrived in the country, there were some children in our groups this spring who struggled with English and, inevitably, did not manage to participate in their group confidently.
As Wild Things, we recognise the language barriers the children face and the issues that brings up, that is one of the reasons we offer activities that are not reliant on English skills as part of our general programme. However, it was great to see that music making offered the children that as well, an alternative way of expressing themselves and participating, a way of engaging with others where they did not feel inept or alienated. Where they can thrive and they can actually win a game, rather than always come last.
It was so inspiring to see that happen for our children!
There were also many children with until now unrecognized musical talent – as we have written about before, some schools cannot provide music activities for their pupils, and children often do not get the support to develop their talents. We are hoping that having had music sessions with Wild Things has given those children a confidence boost to keep singing and dancing, to enjoy their own voice and poem writing. We are also hoping that the teaching staff who have seen their students transform and thrive, will be able to report their impressions back in their schools and that, if schools will be able to, more space will be made for music making.
Small seeds like music sessions in the woods can keep children going – or can even grow into something bigger. We are already seeing the benefits in children’s increased confidence and participation in the woods. Hopefully that extends into their school life and beyond!
Wild Sounds: Getting Louder! is set to continue until the end of this school year. We expect even more surprises and gems. We will let you know about those and for now, have a look at some of the things we did in our video links.
And until next time!