The pupils hoping to race to the top of the charts

6th June 2014 at 01:00
Indie stars help local children in bid to be voice of Glasgow 2014

With the starting pistol set to fire for the Commonwealth Games in a matter of weeks, a group of schoolchildren from Glasgow have teamed up with top musicians to record what they hope will be the anthem of the summer.

Let the Games Begin - performed by 40 children with the help of members of Franz Ferdinand, The Vaccines and Frightened Rabbit - has already been chosen by global children's charity Unicef as its official Glasgow 2014 song.

The children are from nursery, primary and secondary schools in St Mungo's Learning Community in the East End of Glasgow. Their group, East 40, is named after their postcode.

Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Jonathan Carr helped the pupils to write the track, with Freddie Cowan of The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand's Paul Thomson and Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit providing additional support. Artist Gerard M Burns has contributed the official artwork for the single.

The idea for the song came from two teachers at St Anne's Primary School. Principal teacher Marie Hamilton and school leader Louise Hamilton thought it would be a great way for children in the area to get involved in the Games. Louise Hamilton said: "It has been so exciting and inspiring to have had the chance to work with such talented artists, both in the writing and performing of our song.

"We work very closely in St Mungo's Learning Community, striving to ensure that our children have the highest quality learning experiences and are able to develop their talents in order to really shine and make a difference to the lives of others. We all believe that we are just at the start of a spectacular journey of creating a wonderful legacy through our music."

The single has already attracted the attention of Scottish sporting legends Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray, who both tweeted about it. And the 40 band members got a further taste of stardom when they toured the streets last month in a double-decker bus, visiting a radio station and pedestrian precincts to promote the song. Later this month, they will perform Let the Games Begin at London's St James' Palace.

The idea for the song came out of the work done at St Anne's Primary, which has made music such an integral part of school life that it relaunched as a school of music last year.

Cayce Reed, a P7 pupil, said: "This is just a brilliant experience for us. When I grow up I will look back on this and remember I was part of it."

In addition to its long established and successful choir, the school has now put instrumental music on the curriculum for its 262 pupils. Children have access to individual and group tuition in instruments including guitar, keyboard, drums, woodwind and percussion, and can join a number of bands.

The school even uses musical notation for its awards system, rewarding children's good behaviour with crotchets, minims and semibreves.

St Anne's musical success led to The Vaccines' Cowan becoming a mentor at the school and dropping in to give lessons. "I am very honoured to help these children realise their potential. For every effort I put in they respond with double back," he said. "I am delighted that we are able to support Unicef's lifesaving work through the release of this song."

About 1,700 children in St Mungo's Learning Community can already sing the song, and East 40 is keen for its popularity to spread to schools across Scotland.

Stars in their eyes

The single Let the Games Begin can be downloaded from iTunes, and 76p of every purchase will go directly to Unicef.

Watch a video of East 40 performing the song at bit.lyUnicefBegin

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