This post was written by Tony Triggs, Project Director at the International Song Project
You may like to know of an opportunity called The International Song Project. The Project links creative children around the world. Some write poems and others turn them into songs for them all to sing – bringing children’s poetry, children’s music and children’s hearts and voices together as never before!
It began six years ago with young composers in England setting poems by children on the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha.
The results included a published song-book, pen friendships, an island issue of Song Project stamps and gifts to the school of guitars to help the teachers and children to sing their songs.
The school on Sark in the Channel Isles is the newest Project participant. Last December it gave the debut performance of the Project’s ‘musical’ The Travellers’ Delight.
Despite these examples, the Project is not restricted to small islands. A brownie troop in the USA have taken part and Project songs have had professional performances at various venues in the United Kingdom.
Lyrics can be in English or French and are welcomed from around the world.
Youngsters aged 8 – 14 are the main contributors, though there aren’t strict age limits! As well as serving a wide age-range, the Project is open to schooled and home-schooled children alike, though the latter have been the Project’s mainstays.
In the words of Tristan’s Kelly Swain:
I’m stuck in school staring out at the sea,
At faraway places where I wish I could be.
If only time went quick quick quick!
This stuffy classroom is making me sick.
Two o’clock and the bell now rings.
I grab my bag and collect my things.
At last I’m free to go and catch fish!
Darling bell! Ring whenever you wish!
You can see and hear a lively setting of Kelly’s words by home educated Lauren Boydell at http://norfolkmusicschool.com/day_dreaming.
Poems should be sent by parents or teachers, with a few words about each child so that young composers can identify with them.
Finished songs are emailed back as sound files, PDF files and Pizzicato files, where the notes light up as the music plays. Children love it when their songs come to life in this way and can learn them easily, even if they can’t read music.
There is nothing to pay and no commitment. A family or school might supply just a single poem which might or might not be set to music, and that could be the end of the matter! On the other hand, a partnership lasting a year or two could bring rewards like the ones enjoyed on Tristan and Sark.
The Project’s transoceanic dimension brings broad educational benefits. Thus UK composers and Tristan poets learned about each others’ lives, with Tristan’s penguins and active volcano both exciting enormous interest and Sark’s dolphins (pictured) making quite a splash!
I can say that every child who’s written two or three poems has inspired at least one song.
So far, most of the composing has been done by my pupils but the Project is keen to discover new young composing talent, as well as the bouncy, rhyming verse that inspires a good song.
Teachers or parents are very welcome to contact me to find out more.
Tony D Triggs, Project Director firstname.lastname@example.org