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Roland Champion Schools #02

It has been a busy time in the school with OFSTED hanging around and disrupting everything, so it was the perfect end of inspection present to get delivery of all the Roland gear. Opening it was like a spoiled kids Christmas, all the boxes and wrapping, but there was a hint of apprehension with it. Will this idea really work??

The progress the pupils have been making with their parts for When Doves Cry has been good. Guitarists know the chords, vocalists have the harmonies down, keyboardists know the riffs and drummers have the groove. We are now in that dangerous part of the rehearsal process where they can get thoroughly fed up of the tune. To keep them on their toes I changed tack this week and added another element to the project, songwriting. This will give them a chance to compose and arrange their own piece to perform along side the Prince track, and explore the creative possibilities of the Roland instruments.

Here is the PREZI for my first songwriting lesson.  It starts with writing a chorus and chord progression as a whole class which for us come out surprisingly well. Within 20 mins were were singing the whole thing as a class and the group work that followed showed they had really got to grips with the process. I reminded them that there are no clear cut formula to song writing, and this method was simply one approach.

When asking them how many tracks in the top 40 they thought were actually any good, they unanimously agreed Not Many. (a pretty smart bunch!) This begged the question, if over half of the top selling songs in the UK are actually rubbish, then what does this say about song writing? My answer would be that it’s pretty damn easy, being done by people that are pretty damn bad at it! (Just read my Black Eyed Peas rant)

On another point, I found a great use for the Handsonic 10 and a loop pedal with my Y7′s this week. They have been working on some rhythmic compositions using the samba instruments. What I was able to do was easily model the task by looping various sounds from the Handsonic. It was helpful to show how to start building up pieces starting with a simple bass drum part. The motivation shown by the pupils was some of the best I’ve seen once they realised they might get to have a go on it. Another testament to the value of loopers in the classroom.

More to follow……