News and Events

Living Song and Covid 19

We are proud to have kept our offer up throughout the pandemic, offering on-line sessions via Zoom and one-to-one mentoring. Some of this came through our Arts Council funded programme Artist Approach and some directly from our leadership team to individual young people in distress.

It was a challenge for all our artists and young people to remain positive and hopeful and, like so many other artists, musicians, singing leaders and arts practitioners we are very delighted to be back in a space with people however cautious we still need to be, making music, re-connecting, visioning and generally coming ‘alive’ in song again.

CME Choral Conducting Course UK 2021

And that’s a wrap! We had a brilliant week running our London Choral Music Teacher Education (CME) 10th Anniversary Intensive from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th July.

We are so proud of all those who took part in the course. CME is a great opportunity for choir conductors, music teachers, singing leaders and those aspiring to develop their leadership in this field to get together and learn from each other under the leadership of a wonderful faculty of consultants.

Special thank you to Mandy Miller, Brandon Williams, Steve Lodder, David Brunner, Naveen Arles, Landing Mané, John Nutekpor, Artist Teachers, Administrator Team, NewYVC and all the course participants!

‘Hajanga’ Arts Week at University Primary School (UCPS)

The Living Song team had a wonderful week at UCPS in June.

Two young artists were resident working with reception, year 1, year 5 and year 6 learners. Harine (18) and Richie (21) gained experience working alongside teachers based at the school, focusing on singing while drawing on other art forms to engage, inspire and explore with the children. The theme of our work was ‘Hajanga’. 

The meaning of the word Hajanga’ as described by Jacob Collier, the composer of the song, describes the force of your life. He says, “… everything goes in cycles, everything goes up and down and round and round. It’s people coming together, united by this celebratory force and a real sense of self-acceptance. The sense that everybody has this unified song that they sing, this idea of drawing from the whole of the universe around you and then learning how to love the people around, and the things around you and learning how to love yourself in that. You learn to celebrate yourself in the context of a universal community of energetic things”.

Harine worked with two classes. She said, I led and learnt some warm-up songs, some of which included Makaton sign language. The EYFS children also used rain makers. I liked how interactive we made our lessons and how involved the children were. I loved the exploration of how we can use different motions to create different sounds to associate with varying levels of rain (raindrops, showers and storms”.

With year 5 and 6 we collaborated with drama, spending the week creating tableau’s, writing raps, songs and developing performances in a kind of mini-opera. There were solos and duets and chorus sections, all exploring the theme of the song Hajanga. Our young Artist Richie led singing activities, played keyboards and helped facilitate the song making with the learners.

hajinga work

Snape Maltings and Group A

NewYVC, the Stratford Circus resident youth choir had the most wonderful weekend residency at Snape Maltings, singing with and getting to know Group Athe resident Brittenpears Arts youth vocal performance group. Supported by Jane Wheeler of Living Song and Naveen Arles, Musical Director of NewYVC, the young people shared warm-ups and repertoire and created their own group pieces under the facilitation of the wonderful music animateur, Aga Serugo Lugo. Both groups explored their own environments in relation to a walk around Snape Maltings, crafted text and inspired melodies, supported by percussionist Rosie Bergonzi and harpist Imogen Ridge.

The whole group performed outdoors on the last day of their stay, a half hour inspired sharing of the culmination of their work for a highly appreciative audience.

For NewYVC it was an opportunity like none most of them had experienced before. They talked a lot about ‘being in nature’, they walked on the beach, paddled and swam, enjoyed their own individual ‘en suite’ rooms, wonderful hospitality of the Snape Maltings team and the chance to meet and spend time with young people from a very different walk of life to their own in East London. For Living Song, it was an opportunity to celebrate the young people of NewYVC and to enjoy conversations about young leadership, skills, training and development of opportunities for young people.

Music In The Air Project with Community Links

The Music In The Air project came to a close with a wonderful celebration at Community Links this week. The event served as a launch for the new Community Links Recording Studios, funded in part by the Rolling Stones. Ronnie Wood attended the event. He was invited to reveal a plaque to be mounted on the wall of the studio, celebrating the launch of the new studio’s and all the work Community Links does in supporting the local community through the arts, especially music.

Sandy Davies, Principal, Education Links said,

“The new studio and music programme is great news for our young people as it allows them to access the arts in a safe nurturing environment. We are thrilled at their chance to join in. There are so few creative opportunities out there, and this really widens their horizons. I know this will produce stars!.”

Education Links provides alternative education for young people who have been excluded from mainstream school.

music in the air

Artist Approach Project

We are delighted to launch the resources that have been developed concurrently with the collaborative writing of Lockdown Life. Two lead artists, two young artists, six developing young artist mentees and a life coach and storyteller worked together over six months. After much planning, brainstorming, discussion about this past extraordinary year, one-to-one mentoring and sharing, the team wrote the song Lockdown Life. Shammi Pithia and Michael Goodey produced the song while mentoring the mentees. Georgia Thorp provided mentoring one-to-one sessions and wrote the Zak Story based on the song lyrics. We were delighted to have Caro X share a BSL performance of the song. The young artists rose to the challenges of leading sessions and recording vocals. One of the young artists wrote this wrote this:

“ The songwriting sessions have been going grea., Everybody has a great creative voice but always listens to other people’s input. We established the direction of the song pretty early, so it’s just been building and polishing that idea from then onwards”.

Abbi Asante

You can see all of the team at work in the seven short film excerpts below (YouTube links in the Handbook)

We have created a Handbook (PDF) and a Presentation (PDF) for primary, or secondary teachers and community leaders to encourage their groups to write a song collaboratively. This is a chance to share stories, discuss and explore the experiences of this past year and to enjoy creating something together from it, a powerful way to process and return to sharing space in real time.  This is a fully flexible Resource Pack for leaders to draw on as they choose. The films were not made to script, but rather a ‘fly on the wall’ capture of the creative process that is Artist Approach.

We’d like to thank Arts Council England for funding this essential project. 

Film links in Handbook 

Music In The Air Project with Community Links

The Music In The Air project has uncovered some highly talented and motivated young people. Students from Newham College learning English as a second language, demonstrated resilience and determination in continuing to attend workshops when they had to go online due to the COVID Lockdown. They worked through singing games, creative musical play with words and writing in the ‘chat’, sharing ideas and developing vocabulary and confidence in conversation. Three students were particularly keen to develop their singing and built their confidence to sing solo, via Zoom.

Students from Learning Links also continued to create their raps and tracks via Zoom for the second half of their workshop series. A number of these students demonstrated considerable talent for writing and performing raps, working with the skilful facilitation of Shammi Pithia with support from Moh Dhar. Example tracks can be heard here.  We wish the students all the best on their journeys to artistry and look forward to working with them in future.

Sing Up – Songs of the Week

Sign-up logoLiving Song is proud to be in a partnership with Sing up, contributing to their wonderful series of ‘Songs of the Week’. Their vision for inclusion resonates with ours and we are proud of Itoya and Chante for creating accessible, and engaging singing activities based on songs from the Sing Up website. If you are a teacher in school, or a singing leader reading this, we highly recommend that you sign up to Sing Up! for access to a huge range of songs, including teaching films, song sheets, backing tracks and musical scores. It is being updated all the time and you will find old classics and new compositions to suit any occasion.

Choral Music Experience (CME), London 2020

Our annual course has been affected by COVID19, needless to say. We managed to complete last year’s course by adapting our last day due to be held at Next year will be our 10th Anniversary of curating the CME London course, so we’ve decided to offer simply a one day Top Up and Taster CME day on Zoom, as advertised in our focus box on the homepage. We will be sinking into the CME philosophy, techniques and teaching strategies, as well as holding the space to support all comers in the current ‘phase of change’ we are all now living. Do sign up and come along if you have anything to do with leading singing of any kind. We very much hope that by next summer we can offer an exciting, resident course to celebrate our 10th Anniversary

Artist Approach Project

This month we begin our Artist Approach Project. We will be working with a professional Artist team of six, and six mentees to write and record a new song for our time.  Alongside this the team will be creating a set of resources for teachers and youth workers to use for facilitating collaborative song making in any context, including schools, youth centres and units for children learning with Special Educational Needs. From May 2021 these resources will be accessible and free to access on the Living Song website. We will be working entirely via Zoom for the first time with our creative projects, in order to ensure safety for our team. It will be a new experience to learn from! We’d like to thank the Arts Council for funding this project.