Tag Archives: mid pennine arts

Thoughts from the Singing Ringing Tree – Beth Allen

Music Leader from the Songs from the Singing Ringing Tree, Beth Allen, recalls her experience…

Two years of nursery experiences makes for quite intense experiences and deep learning. I see nurseries as a community to enthuse with the love of voice.  If I can enthuse the kids  and show them that songs can make them laugh when they are low, help them remember things they are struggling with, control words they wouldn’t have ever controlled, played out stories they had never really heard before… then they will always remember those feelings.  I am one of those children, having been enthused by a visiting music specialist at my school when I was five years old!  If I can enthuse the staff and build their confidence to mess and play with songs to make them their own, to make them relevant and make them fit for purpose… or if I can find songs that work for them, using backing tracks, or instruments, or nonsense, or with props or pictures, microphones or folk songs… I will find any way in to help staff find their own, sustainable way, to use songs when I’m not there any more.

Some prefer putting on a show for celebrations, while others like to keep it simple and just mix up the occasional words?  We have played with our voices to bring life to the characters in a song, with soundscaping to set a whole scene to a song, with nonsense language to express more than second language children can express with words, with instrumentation to grow the meaning/emotion of a song… add to that lighting and dance moves, then an audience… and the more confident staff enabled their kids to experience something bigger. For me I have found that it is the relationships that allow me to work creatively and that when there is a relationship of trust… a whole group or a pairing can work together to write really lovely little nuggets that stick and are remembered weeks later, because they caught a moment and remain relevant. Some members of staff obviously thought about words and language between sessions and came back having written new songs… or improved on mine.  Some children thought about the games we were playing with language and offered really interesting and fun alternatives, remembering additions from week to week.

The one big failing I felt was after reading a dissertation from an Assistant Teacher at Woodfield Nursery.  She talked about the aural tradition in Pakistan, and about the different regions placing different emphasis on writing… and how this effects ability to learn writing skills once in Britain.  I became very aware that I was trying to make links and encourage development of the English language but that I couldn’t make culturally relevant links if I knew nothing about the prevailing culture of a nursery, ie Pakistan or Bangladesh.  I felt, and still feel, very short on stores and rhymes and songs from those cultures.  I am aware that we show respect for each other by learning each others aural traditions, and by learning them we give them a value.

Beth Allen

You can read more about the project and view the documentary film on our website.

Thoughts from the Singing Ringing Tree – Zoe Greenhalgh

Music Leader from the Songs from the Singing Ringing Tree, Zoe Greenhalgh, recalls her experience…

Relationships

For me, the joy of working on projects such as this, is the wonderful human connections with the very young that are born out of musical play and exploration, without any need for speech.  Singing is such a wonderful medium; no right or wrong, just variations which have infinite potential for development in a whole new direction.

In the settings the day comprised of working with all children in the nursery in small groups of 6-10 each supported by a member of the nursery staff which allowed the children and myself to become well acquainted and build a good relationship. It also enabled me to learn something of the children as individuals; how confident they were, their readiness to sing and make music, their ideas and interests, quirks and foibles.  In these small groups I became familiar to them and they to me, meaning that I could structure my teaching to support their individual needs whether musical or otherwise.  Progress and participation was good and much enjoyment was evident.

The Singing Tent

In one setting I came to know the children over a number of weeks working with small group and their key worker before creating and opening the “singing tent” for business. The groups were predominantly adult led so the tent was intended to redress the balance by offering the children the opportunity to initiate and lead the musical activities, for me to join in with their play.

The “singing tent” was constructed from a clotheshorse and some music printed fabric held together with clothes pegs.  This was intentionally only large enough for me and two children to occupy at any one time thus maintaining a sense of intimacy that might elicit the engagement of even the most timid of children.  Sometimes it was situated inside in the nursery, sometimes outside in the garden.  I stayed in the tent with my ukulele and the children came and joined me as and when they liked.  The ukulele turned out to be a good provocation for the children to respond to: they were attracted to the sound and wanted to play it, but were inclined to play with some delicacy, either listening intently to the sounds they produced or strum it as an accompaniment to their singing. It was often not played at all.

I had tried different instruments for variety – a small number of quality percussion instruments and chime bars – but whilst the children enjoyed exploring these, as a joint interactive activity it was not very fruitful.  Likewise, me sitting in the tent just singing with no instruments was not as attractive, possibly because the sound of a singing voice is a familiar one in the setting.

Within the intimate, private space of the tent, these children recognised me as a play partner and offered me the crown jewels – magical musical connections with voice, sound and rhythm, spontaneous original song improvisations, musical play of all shapes and sizes.  What an honour and infinite pleasure to be so accepted and trusted with their precious offerings.

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Inspiration visit to the Singing Ringing Tree

Ways of working…

During this project I have worked in a more formal, adult-led manner with small groups of children as well as in a more informal, “free flow” way. Both are valuable in their own right but I believe that the impact is greater than the sum of its parts when the two approaches are combined.  How important then that educators within the setting have the musical confidence and skill to scaffold and support children’s musical creativity and development, and that staff development is built into the project in a workable manner.

From my experience; Thoughts on project planning and delivery

All projects of this sort give a cohort of children access to musical experiences beyond those normally available in the setting; musical exposure and engagement that without the project they would not have had.  Fantastic!  What is more difficult is to build in longer term legacy for the settings in subsequent years.

I believe the most crucial and detailed part of all projects is the planning stage.  There is this great idea to run a project doing “X” which would work really well with these leaders in this location and we could build in “Y” and “Z” – wow, how exciting!  This is perhaps the easy bit.  What follows is the contacting of settings and individuals involved to gain interest in being involved which is relatively straightforward, particularly where relationships already exist.

Then comes the nitty gritty of how it will work on the ground, what it will look like in reality, firm commitment to dates, time, staff availability, trips out, available physical space, parental/photo permissions, etc. etc.  This is the really tricky bit.  It is so important that all parties “buy in” to the concept and that the finer detail is worked out collaboratively with all partners at the earliest stage of planning, especially those involved in the day to day delivery.  Settings are very busy with many demands upon their time and energies making this level of detail sometimes hard to sort out, but it is precisely this, along with the ongoing communication between the visiting music practitioner and the setting staff, that turns an ordinary project into an extraordinary one that leaves behind it something truly worth having.  This collaborative, committed relationship means that the project activity is more than just a “bolt on” extra, that it is integrated into the setting beyond the allotted project time, extending reach to more children and developing staff confidence, knowledge and skill and impacting positively on practise within the setting and the experiences of its children.

Songs from the Singing Ringing Tree from Mid Pennine Arts on Vimeo.

Penzance to Burnley – Day 51

Long-time supporter and Friend of MPA, Barbara Sanders, is undertaking the most extraordinary feat this spring. Barbara is walking from Penzance to Burnley and is asking people to support her efforts by donations to MPA.

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Yesterday Barbara reached 1,000 kilometres which is 625 miles and 35,605 metres of ascent!  Getting to this point certainly hasn’t been easy.  Since we last updated on her progress she’s endured more dreadful weather.  But more worryingly she also slipped on a tree root on the 15th April and has a possible fracture in her arm. She had to go to Shrewsbury hospital to get it checked out, but the results of whether it was fractured or not were inconclusive.  So back to the hospital for more tests the day after and the consultant thought that her arm did have a small fracture.  Fitted with a removable splint and the consultant’s advice that she should carry on if she wanted to, she headed back to the trail.

Barbara had some concerns about whether she would be able to put up her tent etc, so she devised a new plan.  She jettisoned the heavy camping gear, at least temporarily, and added a few more B&B’s and hostels to the schedule.

There is no doubt that Barbara is one tenacious lady, she isn’t going to let anything stop her!

Yesterday she arrived in Uttoxeter after three days of green ways, Sustrans bike routes and canals. Her arm is getting easier but she’s still using the splint full time. Today, with a fair wind behind her she should reach the peak district.

So far Barbara has raised the wonderful total of £592, but this magnificent effort deserves more.  If you can help, contributions to Barbara’s fundraising can be made via Just Giving.

Look out for updates on Barbara’s progress on this blog and on our Facebook page.

Dr Steph Takes on the Marathon

We are feeling very privileged at  the moment, not only is Barbara Sanders still on her way from Penzance, on foot, but one of our Trustees has also been out in all weathers, training hard for this weekend’s London Marathon.  Both are undertaking these extraordinary feats to raise funds for MPA’s 50th Anniversary.

Dr Stephanie Hawke, has been pounding the tow path of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, racking up a 100 miles of training runs.  Steph first became involved with MPA as a 16 year old on work placement.  Some years later we were very pleased to welcome her to the education team, which she went on to lead in 2011 after completing her PhD.  Although we lost her to Curious Minds a while back, Steph has stayed involved with MPA by joining the Board of Trustees.

Steph Hawke 2 - training for London Marathon April 2016

Steph says, “I started running with a fantastically supportive group organised through Burnley Leisure. My first race was the Jane Tomlinson Burnley 10k.  I got the bug and within 12 months I’d joined Clayton Le Moors Harriers, run six half marathons and had my sights on the big one. I was delighted to win a place for the Virgin London Marathon 2016 and started training in January running through ice, hail, lightning, wind, rain and sun. As the mileage increased the Leeds Liverpool Canal provided the perfect track, and apart from being hissed at by surprisingly threatening geese, I have successfully pounded more than 100 miles of training. There’s a physical price to pay for that kind of endurance and I’ve had painful massage and acupuncture not to mention experimenting with ice baths and agonising foam rollers!

I’m raising money for Mid Pennine Arts to establish an award for young artists. The organisation has brought vibrancy, colour and texture to Pennine Lancashire for 50 years, often with little recognition – who doesn’t love the Singing Ringing Tree? MPA make me proud to live in Burnley and I want to inspire the next generation of artists to work in our quietly fabulous historic and rural environment. “

Steph has contributed so much to MPA over the years and we are delighted to benefit from her efforts once again.   We know how hard she’s been training for this and appreciate it enormously; we hope that people will help her reach her target of £800.

Contributions to Steph’s fundraising can be made via Just Giving.

Steph Hawke - training for London Marathon April 2016

Not Lost, Just Interning!

Isobel Cecil - Assistant Producer Intern - 2016Hello! I’m Issy, Mid Pennine Arts’ new Assistant Producer Intern for the next six months. I’m very excited to be undertaking this role, and feel very lucky that I was selected.  Hopefully I can enrich MPA’s fabulous work with some of my previous experience and my enthusiasm for socially engaged arts.

I’m going to be working alongside Project Managers, as well as Nick and Melanie, developing projects and getting stuck in with MPA’s engagement work. This is an exciting time to have joined MPA as they put together the celebrations for their 50th anniversary. On my first day I arrived to see our team of dedicated volunteers shifting through some beautiful MPA event posters from the 60s/70s – one of which I was very tempted to take home and hang on the wall…

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Out with fellow Senior Explorers

I graduated from the University of Manchester last year with a degree in English Literature and American Studies. After completing my final year of uni, alongside becoming a Student Producer for the Whitworth Gallery and volunteer at Manchester International Festival, I became invigorated with a passion for widening public engagement in the Arts. I then went off to New Delhi to teach the most enthusiastic and intelligent children debating skills, art and literature. All of these past experiences meant that when I saw this internship, I jumped at it. Luckily I landed the role!

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The Very Special Meeting with Wild Rumpus

It’s the start of my third week today and already I’ve become a Senior Explorer Silly-iously Serious Cecil with the mighty Bowland Explorers; explored the old railway line through Whitworth and met lots of the lovely people who interact with MPA. Furthermore, I’ve fully thrown myself in by moving to Burnley, and managed to find a room just over 100 meters away from the office! I’m very excited to keep going and get more and more immersed in the great work MPA do.

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Exploring the Spodden Valley with Project Manager Diana and artist Steve Messam

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Scenery around Whitworth

I’ve been welcomed wonderfully and thank you very much to Super Slow Way and Lancashire County Council for supporting my post!

 

issy@midpenninearts.org.uk

 

 

Penzance to Burnley – the beginning…

Long-time supporter and Friend of MPA, Barbara Sanders, is undertaking the most extraordinary feat this spring. Barbara will be walking from Penzance to Burnley and is asking people to support her efforts by donations to MPA.

Yesterday was the first day, and as she headed off from Penzance she has ahead of her, 700 miles that will take her along the North Coast Path, through the Somerset Levels, along Offa’s Dyke, across the Black Mountains, through the Peak District and then on to the home stretch of the Pennine Way.  She hopes to walk past the Singing Ringing Tree at Crown Point, Burnley around the 27 April. Throughout the miles, and the 35,000 metres of climb the walk entails, Barbara will be carrying a 30lb pack containing everything she needs, including her camping gear, as she will make camp or stay in hostels for most of the trip.

Unfortunately the weather on Day One was wet and windy so she decided to stick to lanes rather than face a westerly headwind.  There were no campsites open and her planned lunch time pub turned out to be shut on Tuesdays in the winter!  So a testing first day.  We do hope things get easier.  A plus side to the day was passing the Tregiffian burial chamber.

Day 1 - 1.3.16 - 2 - compressed

Day 1 - 1.3.16 -compressed

The local papers have supported Barbara’s efforts by features in the Burnley Express and the Lancashire Telegraph, which is great.  Although we think Barbara might find the Telegraph’s focus on her age as testing as Day One’s weather!

Contributions to Barbara’s fundraising can be made via Just Giving.

Look out for updates on Barbara’s progress on this blog and on our Facebook page.

Assistant Producer Internship (Paid)

In 2016 Mid Pennine Arts will celebrate our 50th anniversary, and we will mark the occasion with an exciting range of new projects. To help deliver this programme we seek a new person to join our team for a period of six months.

MPA is looking for a special individual to make a real contribution to developing and delivering this evolving portfolio.  We are offering a new role, as Assistant Producer, working alongside one or more experienced project managers.  Our Project Managers have a lot of creative freedom in how they develop projects, and this will apply also to our new team member.

We are looking for a young graduate (or someone with equivalent work experience) keen to develop a career in socially engaged arts. This will be a challenging role, but a brilliant development opportunity for the right person. You will be able to demonstrate the capacity or the potential to enrich and refresh our practice, to take responsibility for developing specific elements of extended projects and possibly even to start originating project opportunities of your own. There is some scope therefore for shaping the role and its workload to suit the skills and developmental needs of the individual appointed.

You can find out more about the wide range of our projects by visiting our website and our Vimeo and Flickr pages.

Singing Ringing Tree (c) Andy Ford

All the information and documents you need are listed below.

MPA Assistant Producer Internship – Role Descrip-Pers Spec – Dec 2015

MPA Application Form – Assist Prod Intern – Dec 2015

Only applications on our official form will be accepted, please do not send CVs.   Email your application (preferably as a PDF, although Word docs are acceptable) to:

Rachel Holden,  Business Engagement Manager, Employment Support Team – Skills, Learning and Development Team, Lancashire County Council

Rachel.Holden@lancashire.gov.uk

Deadline for applications is 12noon, Wednesday 27 January 2016.

You can also email Rachel with any queries prior to submitting your application.

This post is funded by the Lancashire Creative Employment Programme through Creative Lancashire and the Creative People & Places funded organization, Super Slow Way.

The funding requires that the post is only open to those who, at the time of applying, are aged between 18 – 24 years old and are registered as unemployed with Jobcentre plus.

There is no formal timetable for recruitment, but we aim to act without delay. If you are shortlisted, we will invite you for interview as soon as can be arranged.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Image by Lucy Green