There are 300 children at Anson Road Primary School, Cricklewood, and, between them, they speak more than 30 languages. "It's the most multi-cultural school we've ever worked in," says Ros Rigby of Folkworks, the traditional music agency, which is mounting a celebration of songs from around the world, The Song Circle, at six schools in London and the North-East.
The project is funded by Sainsbury's and will culminate in concerts at each of the schools. Today, the South African born singer Mpho Skeef, is at Anson Road working with children from Years three and four (aged eight to 10). And, soon after her arrival, the children have added a Zulu lullaby to their repertoire of songs from India, the Balkans and England, which they have learned during workshops with Pushkala Gopal, Mary Keith and Nancy Kerr.
Based at the school as one of Brent's language support teachers, Eva Barker is delighted with the results of the project. "When folkworks do something they do it properly," she says. "And this being such a multiracial school, it's been good for the children to be reminded that there's more to the world than Top of the Pops and the Spice Girls. There are many different kinds of music and it's through music that we can learn about each other."
How do the children react to Mpho Skeef's workshop? "I liked the song we learned this morning," says eight-year-old Maninder Kaur Ahluwalia. "It was very soft because it was a lullaby. And Mpho has a lovely voice." And to The Song Circle project in general? "We learned some words from different languages," says eight year-old Elise Nelson, "and it's been very interesting because we've met people from around the world."
Song circle concerts (at 7.30pm unless indicated): Ferryhill, Co Durham, March 12, Ferryhill Comprehensive School (01740 651554); Newcastle upon Tyne, March 13, Hotspur Primary School (0191 276 2762) at 7 pm; Ashington, Northumberland, March 14, Ashington High School (01670 812166); Billingham on Tees, March 17, Northfield School (01642 557373); Hexham, March 18, Queen Elizabeth High School (01434 605211); Cricklewood, London, March 19, Anson Road Primary School (0181 452 8552) at 7pm. Song workshops for the general public: Newcastle upon Tyne, March 15, Hotspur Primary School (0191 276 2762) 9.30am to 4.30pm. Folkworks: 0191 222 1717