THE BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and University of Salford have teamed up to teach music composition to primary school children, using an innovative new app.
Children from The Cathedral School of St Peter and St John RC Primary in Salford were given the chance to compose a piece for four members of the orchestra, in a unique collaboration with the University of Salford. The project aims to give children who have limited composition knowledge the opportunity to learn and experiment musically.
It is being made possible by an innovative app called ’Paynter’, which takes its name from the music in education advocator, John Paynter OBE. Designed by University of Salford PhD researcher Adam Hart, the software allows children to create their own soundboard from a variety of sound sources, including instruments, birds, and thunder, which they can select and place on a colourful scale that represents a musical stave.
Adam, who has a background in music education, hopes to ignite a new-found enthusiasm for composition in children, emphasising storytelling, creativity and teamwork.
He said: “With Paynter, I wanted there to be an emphasis on storytelling through music and creativity. I think of it as sound painting because the children have been able to express themselves using a range of sounds. It is very multi-sensory and exploratory.
“I hope this sparks a desire to pursue music in those that may not previously considered it. This is about making music fun and accessible. It’s a story that everyone can tell, when provided with right tools.”
In a series of sessions, the children worked in groups to create their own music, using tablets funded by the University of Salford. Four members of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra then worked collaboratively with the children, transforming their creations into the physical space. BBC Philharmonic members then played the finalised pieces in a concert at the school.
Adam is still developing his app but would like to see it used by schools in the future, following on from the success of this project.
Alan Williams, Professor of Collaborative Composition in Music at the University of Salford, said: “This partnership with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Cathedral School forms part of the University of Salford’s commitment to industry collaboration. The app has allowed the children to create sounds and I then translated it into notation for the musicians. It has been a great experience which stretched my musical imagination as well.”
Alison Ginns, Lead Practitioner at the Cathedral School of St Peter and St John in Salford said: “As a school committed to providing a broad curriculum and opportunities to inspire and raise aspirations among our children, we have found the whole experience really positive. There has been a clear commitment from the children to collaborate in order to compose a piece of music and the Paynter app has given them the tools to be able to do this. To have the BBC orchestra the play it back to them was a real treat.”