Thursday, 26 February 2015

Songwriting In Schools Lullaby

Meet Ellie. She featured heavily in a class activity I did at school today with some wonderful infants. It was an activity I learnt about at a recent NYMAZ Conference. 

I introduced her and the children called her 'Ellie.' I told the children that she never went to sleep at night until someone sang her a song. We decided these songs were called lullabies. I asked the children to come up with some lines for a simple 4 line lullaby. They came up with;
Little baby sleep
Close your eyes 
You've had a busy day
Sweet dreams Ellie

Then I asked some children to 'sing' the lines and we quickly found a tune. I played the guitar and we sang the lullaby to Ellie. Unfortunately she kept waking up so we had to sing it a few times! 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Leaving On A Train

Although songwriting is essentially a solitary activity I do occasionally write with other people. My favourite collaborator is Mike Bennett who lives in Cottingham in East Yorkshire. Mike is an amazing musician and writes lovely fiddle tunes. I usually get an idea and maybe begin writing some lyrics. If I get stuck on a tune I'll take the lyrics to Mike. He will have a go at writing a tune and then we'll meet and finish off the song together. I love writing with Mike because he will take me out of my comfort zone and will encourage me to try different tempos, keys and chords. 

This song is our latest effort. I got this idea of a couple sitting in a station platform cafe. I had Pickering station cafe on The North Yorks Moors Railway in mind. They are sitting waiting for a train which will take her away from him. It's a kind of 'Brief Encounter' moment. I didn't want to give too much away of the story that is left to your imagination. Hope you like the song when you get to hear it. 

He'll never forget this time and this place
The smell of her perfume and her warm embrace
He's trying to disguise his sorrow and pain
Of her leaving on a train

Monday, 16 February 2015

Low Tide At Runswick Bay

I have chosen the painting below as the front cover for my new CD Time & Tide. 

It's by a wonderful local artist called Kezy Feaster. Kezy lives in Pickering and paints fabulous landscapes of coastal villages and moors scenes. She recently had an exhibition in The Sun Inn in Pickering and I was taken by this painting of Runswick Bay and it's lovely bright colours. My partner Jo bought me a print of the painting and I knew it would be perfect for the songs I was putting on the new CD. 

I would like to thank Kezy for letting me use the painting for the CD cover. Please check out her work she really is a talented artist. Her website is; 

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Brave Women Of Runswick Bay

I have just recorded a new CD. It will be my 7th and I can't wait for you all to hear it. In the meantime I thought I might just tell you a little about the new songs I have written for it.

I first heard about this true story when I saw a photograph reproduced below. It showed a group of fishergirls and had the caption 'The Brave Women Of Runswick Bay.' On 12th April 1901 the fishing fleet set sail from Runswick Bay in bright sunshine. Unfortunately a freak squall came in and the fleet were in danger. Because all the men were out fishing only the older men of the village and young boys were left to man the lifeboat. It was left to 20 or so fishergirls to launch the boat. It involved dragging the incredibly heavy boat into the water putting themselves in great danger. The lifeboat guided the boats back to shore and the fishergirls waited on the beach until every last boat returned. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Songwriting in Schools

I work at Nawton Primary School near Helmsley every Thursday afternoon teaching music. The school is federated with Rosedale Primary School and the children from Rosedale come down to join the Nawton children every Thursday afternoon. I teach 4 groups; Y5, Y6, Y3/4 & Y1/2. Yesterday with the Y3/4 I used the method of writing new words to an existing song. We have been singing 'Yellow Submarine' for a while so used that tune. I came up with a chorus;

We all go to Nawton Primary School, Nawton Primary School
And Rosedale Primary School. 

The children came up with the following verse;

And we all wear blue and green (blue and green)
And together we can play (we can play!)
And we are friendly too (friendly too!)
In our lovely primary schools.....