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Singing stars strike a rich chord

A North Ayrshire primary school has hit on a novel way of raising funds through a project that is not only enterprising, but creative.

Building on its strengths in music, Skelmorlie Primary children from P1-7 created and produced their own CD, based around their class topics.

The CD, which is being sold locally, was the result of a joint project with the music department at James Watt College in Greenock, following a discussion between course director Neil Weir (a parent at the school) and headteacher Maggi Muir.

Led at the Skelmorlie end by Catherine McMorran, a teacher with a "passion" for music, it was an exciting project and a learning experience for everyone: "Every class teacher was involved and the children jointly fed in their ideas for the lyrics, based on their class topics."

The project also provided a showcase for P7's Soundstart band, which has been running for four years under the Youth Music Initiative that guaranteed every P7 child got the chance to play an instrument and perform in the band.

The pupils were involved in writing the lyrics and seeing how a music CD is produced. Two of the college's HND students, Stuart Gray and Suzanne McKenzie, worked weekly with them during music lessons and arranged and composed the music over three months.

"The children brainstormed ideas, then Stuart arranged the music, while Suzanne supported the P1 song. Between us, we taught the children the songs and rehearsed them," says Catherine.

"We then started to put in the music. This included percussion, chime bar and glockenspiel, as well as some purely vocal tracks."

The children also spent a whole day recording the music in the assembly hall (a lack of funding meant they could not go to the college's own recording studio).

The benefits have been many, says Mrs McMorran: "The children all contributed in some way - writing, singing or playing - and they've become successful learners and effective contributors."

Many aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence capacities have also been met - "but we've helped the college students develop their employability skills too," Mrs McMorran points out. "It was great for our children to meet people making a career out of creating and recording music."

Headteacher Mrs Muir says: "It's been a very different way of gaining extra funding, developing leadership, offering ownership to our children and creating strong parental and external partnership links."

The CD, price #163;4, has been produced at no cost, thanks to donations.

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