On Friday the 23rd June as part of Sandylands’ Primary School's Glastonbury celebration, Chris Barlow Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Cumbria, took the opportunity to combine his work life (primary teaching and development of place-based learning inspired by involvement with The Morecambe Bay Curriculum) with his personal passion, songwriting and playing the guitar.
Sandylands School in the West End of Morecambe is a creative and lively school keen to offer wider life experiences for the children. The school's Glastonbury Festival included live music, face painting, tie dye and weaving workshops as well as a host of well-being health activities across the school. As part of Chris Barlow's work with local schools in developing the Eden Project inspired Morecambe Bay Curriculum, Chris arranged something a little different for the pupils in Y6.
Chris, accompanied by three songwriters (Jenny Wren, Vaz and Marcus David) from Lancaster and Morecambe ran a songwriting workshop. Each songwriter shared their story of how and when they started to write songs and each played a song example to the children…which was met with much applause. Chris then talked about common features of songs and talked about how alliteration, personification, metaphor and simile, onomatopoeia and rhyming patterns can be used in songs, directly linking the session to their literacy curriculum. The children were then set a challenge – their job was to compose lyrics for songs inspired by Morecambe Bay which the songwriters would then put to music. Each songwriter worked with small groups of children and a collection of Morecambe Bay images, to draw out words, phrases, descriptions and thoughts that could then be formed into song lyrics, with occasional ‘wow’ additions from headteacher Allison Hickson, such as ‘circadian tides’.
During the children’s lunch each songwriter, huddled in different corners of an empty classroom, worked feverishly away to structure the children’s collected lyrical suggestions into actual songs, which were then played to the wide-eyed year six children after lunch. It was amazing to see children smiling and pointing when they recognised a lyric idea that was included that they themselves had suggested just an hour or so previously. All songwriters commented on how rewarding this was to work alongside Sandyland's pupils. One song that Chris worked on, had the rather unwieldy suggestion of ‘Harry thinks the lamp posts on the Stone Jetty remind him of helicopters guarding the bay’, so rather than leave this out, it became to song’s title and Harry was thrilled!
The story could have stopped there, but buoyed by the children’s responses to the songs Marcus, suggested that each of the songs be recorded for prosperity, something which Marcus (as professional musician and recording engineer) set to with gusto, with the results being five really engaging yet very different examples of how songs might sound and feel.
Congratulations to Sandyland's School, Chris, Allison, Jenny, Vaz and Marcus!
The Sunset Over Morecambe Bay
Lyrics Y6 at Sandylands School and Mrs Hickson / Music Chris Barlow
July 23rd 2023
Park and playground, silver pipes
Banana railings, birds in flight
Waves are crashing in the night
Sky like a blanket thick and white
Mysterious birds perched on stones
Stare out to see like gods of old
And creeping tide
Glimmering beauty, snake like scales
Golden sunset, picture frame
But them comes rain
The sunset over Morecambe Bay
I never thought I’d feel this way
Makes me feel so proud today
The sunset over Morecambe Bay
Buildings on the prom stand so proud
Looking out above the crowd
To golden sunsets in the sky
Circadian tides arrive
Eden Project coming soon
Like silver shells out on the moon
Semi-circles for the world
See the promises unfurlBack to News