Pupils make tracks for pop fame

16th July 2004 at 01:00
Stuart Ross is an unlikely pop impresario.

He insists on being polite to every singer he hears, even when this stretches his limits of creative description. He does not want to make money from the talent he discovers. And he does not, repeat not, wear his trousers too high.

Mr Ross is touring primary schools in northern England, turning playground popstrels into recording artists, with their own CD and concert in a shopping mall.

The former local authority music adviser is now directing I want to (pretend to) be a pop star", a school-based workshop which teaches key stage 2 pupils to write and record their own songs. "They write love songs, dance songs, friendship songs. Some write about Swiss referees. And recently we had a song about an alien invasion," he said.

Gerardine Babb, head of St William of York primary, in Bolton, Lancashire, was pleasantly surprised by her school's input. "The maturity of some of the lyrics was surprising," she said.

Pupils hum outlines of a melody and Mr Ross supplies the backing track.

This is recorded onto a compilation class CD.

The best songs will be performed this month at a concert in the Trafford shopping centre, Manchester. Nine-year-old Indianna Ryan is among those from St William of York who will perform. "I'll feel like a proper rock chick, being on-stage in front of a crowd," she said. "But we'll have to wear school uniform. I don't think a rock chick would wear uniform."

Mr Ross denies that he is staging a gymslip version of Pop Idol: "Pop Idol is just glorified karaoke. Our kids are performing their own songs. That's something Gareth Gates had to wait years to do. And I'm not Simon Cowell.

I'm not after ridiculous sums from record deals. I need to remember that I'm just a music teacher."

He is not the only one who needs the occasional reality check. "Pupils do need to be realistic," said Ms Babb. "I don't think we have any more budding Kylies in school than we had before the workshop."


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