About Songs of Ourselves
Songs of Ourselves is a participative song programme led by The Dock 2021 Composer in Residence, George Higgs working with Scoil Mhuire, Carrick on Shannon.
It is being delivered as part of The Dock's 2021 Education Programme. The overall aim of the programme is to provide a space where children can be curious, question what they see and learn creatively.
Songs Of Ourselves has been awarded the 2021 Arts in Education Portal Documentation Award. The projects will be showcased on the portal as the documentation progresses.
The project will explore communal song forms and experiment with creating a song in collaboration with Scoil Mhuire pupils, teachers & The Dock. Ultimately, the song will involve words, music and gestures, making it a multi-sensory composition that will be showcased in a digital song scrapbook.
The Dock supported Scoil Mhuire in 2018 in a successful application for the Arts Council's Creative Schools programme which came to an end in 2020-. The school had been working under the guidance of Creative Associate Anna Spearman in developing and implementing a student-led and student-centred Creative School plan.
The work of the Creative Schools programme with Scoil Mhuire focused in particular on language/oral expression and identity and sought to encourage and enable new forms of self-expression among students.
This happened through a variety of approaches and engagements including:
▪ Guided tours to all the visual arts exhibitions in the Dock during the programme and related explorations, studio visits/ workshop
▪ Exploring Carrick on Shannon, it's built and natural heritage with visual artist and architect Vanya Lambrecht-Ward.
▪ A visit to Artist Anita Groener’s exhibition “The Past is a Foreign Country” at The Dock was the springboard for an ongoing exploration of ideas of place and home with The Dock's 2019 Sound Artist in Residence Natalia Beylis and invited guests.
Students explored the world of sound through sound walks, sound poetry, graphic scores, field recordings, a performance, workshop with cellist Eimear Reidy and a field trip to listen to the Shannon using underwater microphones with Trish Morgan. Students then developed their own projects using sound in a variety of ways alongside visuals and/or spoken word to explore and express their own sense of place.
At the end of the Creative School Programme in 2020 composer George Higgs worked for a few weeks, remotely over Zoom, with Scoil Mhuire to test and explore the possibilities of virtual learning and creative engagement using song and gesture as ways of communicating across the airwaves.
The Dock established a music residency with George Higgs and Scoil Mhuire to support and continue the work the school did as part of that Creative Schools programme. The residency seeks to develop a dynamic and collaborative relationship for 2021.
‘Being involved with the Dock, and with the Creative Arts programme, has exposed teachers and pupils to areas that were not previously experienced, and has opened up a world of art that has enthused and Inspired the pupils. It enables pupils and teachers to see the world through different eyes. Teachers are constantly amazed at, and hugely impressed with, the ideas and creativity that come from children after exposure to the arts. It is a wonderful opportunity for pupils, who may not be academically strong, to shine and showcase their particular strengths and talents. “ Orla Kenny, Teacher Scoil Mhuire
George Higgs will examine and explore the work started in late 2020 to create a ‘song scrapbook: 'Songs of Ourselves' through the following activities:
▪ Expanding the range of song types introduced to the students, including work songs, protest songs, anthems.
▪ Students share songs from their own unique background and heritage.
▪ Exposure to different song forms, considering what type of song the students might want to create collaboratively (protest song? work song? ballad? anthem? rhythmic song? love song?)
▪ Experimenting with gesture games in order to ‘jam', creating rhythms using bodily movement that can be coupled with language (generating musical motifs for a song)
▪ Students would contribute images (drawings, paintings and even photos) that can be compiled towards the song scrapbook’ as part of the development and discovery stage of the project.
▪ Creating a digital scrapbook Songs of Ourselves for the school, pupils, teachers and The Dock, to acknowledge the work of all involved. This book will have an audio interactive element that will be supported by visual references created through learning and development of the project.
Central to this song scrapbook will be the theme of diversity in the school's makeup, with well over half the students originating from countries such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia and India. Thus, lyrics to the composition will have a rich, multi-lingual character.
Scoil Mhuire is a busy school in the mixed urban and rural community of Carrick on Shannon. The school is seven years old, and is rapidly expanding. It currently has a staff of thirty teachers and 472 pupils. The school has a diverse population, more than 50% of students have a language other than English as their first language. Scoil Mhuire seeks to provide for the academic, physical, spiritual, aesthetic, social and moral needs of the children within its care, in a respectul and disciplined environment, in partnership and co operation with parents and all members of the school community. Principal: Caroline Healy Teachers: Noelle Igoe, Laura Brehon and Orla Kenny are the three teachers who led the school Creative Arts team. They each have an interest in some area of arts education or are keen to explore and promote arts education in the school and continue the relationship with The Dock.