It’s only rock ‘n’ roll but the kids really like it

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Lessons were pumped up to full volume at a special school when they were treated to a series of rock classics by a group of talented music tutors.

The live sessions beamed to Ysgol Tir Morfa in Rhyl were laid on by the Denbigh-based Denbighshire Music Co-operative to lift the pupils’ spirits a year after the UK went into lockdown.

The band, Make some Noise, starring six of the organisation’s talented music tutors, lived up to their name with a series of eight interactive broadcasts over two days.

They came together at the music co-operative’s covid-secure headquarters on the Spencer Trading Estate, with all the musicians socially distanced and separated by protective perspex screens.

The aim was to encourage a sense of wellbeing among the children and reacquaint them with the joy of live music which many pupils have so badly missed over the difficult period of the pandemic social distancing and lockdowns.

It was so successful that there are now plans to stream a live tour to all Denbighshire schools in September.

Funding for the project came through the Welsh Government’s Integrated Care Fund to support people with learning disabilities and children with complex needs.

Ysgol Tir Morfa’s Naomi Archer, part of the administration team who helped organise the event, said the entire school was over the moon to be lifting the lid on such a musical extravaganza.

She said: “We cannot thank Denbighshire Music Co-operative enough for the chance they have given pupils, and our staff, to be part of this musical event.”

“They even dispatched to us some basic percussion instruments – buckets and wooden sticks – so our pupils could make some noise too and keep up with the musical beat. It proves that the simplest of equipment is all that is needed to create a unique musical sound.”

The band was led by guitarist Wyn Pearson, who is Artistic Lead with Denbighshire Music Co-operative. He was joined by fellow co-operative musicians, Ben Neal on drums, Aled Williams on bass and brass, Matt Deacon on saxophone, Dylan Cernyw on harp and Matty Roberts as vocalist and compere.

The gifted six-piece gave up their time to deliver a bumper mix of covers of uplifting numbers like Queen’s We Will Rock You, Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, and Daft Punk’s Get Lucky.

In between performances they encouraged pupils to make their own music and singalong with the big hits.

The tutors also passed on some of their wealth of knowledge about instrumental techniques, rhythms and beats, and how to make the most of the positive life-force that is making music.

Wyn who has been a musician for more than 20 years, explained: “It has been a difficult time for so many people during the past year but music has been a saviour for many people in terms of their mental wellbeing, offering them an escape from the feelings of isolation which have taken hold in people of all ages.

“For us as teachers it has been hard not to go into schools and deliver music lessons face to face but our co-operative has been so fortunate to have had such an enthusiastic take-up of our online music tuition classes.

“This has given pupils a goal to work towards and a form of creativity to enjoy which might otherwise have been lost during the lockdown. But we know many children have sadly missed out on the music lessons they would normally have taken part in at school.

“That’s why we wanted to do these live broadcasts for Ysgol Tir Morfa, so the pupils know that the music is still out there, no matter what, and that they can all find some joy in singing a song or picking up the most simple of instruments and making their own unique tunes.”

The band who delivered their broadcasts through the Microsoft Teams system, said the rapturous response of the pupils was the best reward possible for the work they put in.

Wyn said: “It is a word that is used a lot lately but emotional ‘wellbeing’ is so important to youngsters and adults alike these days. So it is a real boost for us to think that simply by creating the music which we all love we can help improve the wellbeing of these fantastic pupils.”

Make Some Noise usually get together at the start of each school year to tour local schools, performing short concerts and demonstrating the variety of tuition they can provide on a one to one or group basis. But for this week’s Ysgol Tir Morfa sessions they came together especially for the online show.

The music co-operative is a not-for-profit organisation offering professional music tuition by top-class teachers in schools and on a private basis for children and adults in Denbighshire area.

It provides tuition on a wide range of instruments and vocal lessons aiming to develop each pupil’s musical potential at their own pace and according to their own needs and aspirations.

Heather Powell, Head of Service at Denbighshire Music Co-operative, said:  ‘’This is the first time we have worked via the Integrated Care fund and it has been a huge success.

“For me, the joy of hearing and seeing live music again both for the children and indeed for our tutors has been emotional – many have not performed for well over a year and it was marvelous to put music back in the classroom, albeit virtually.

“It was a massive success and is something we intend to do more of in future to further develop our Covid safe offer to our schools and pupils.

“We are working on many more online projects as we plan for the next school year – we are finding new innovative ways to deliver high quality music to our schools.”

Geraint Davies, Denbighshire County Council’s Head of Education, said: “This is a fantastic project which allows children to engage positively in musical activities. We have a long and established relationship with Denbighshire Music Co-operative and continue to work with them on several joint projects.

“It has been really important that during the pandemic vulnerable children and children with complex needs are able to access musical and physical activities that promote their wellbeing and projects like this help achieve that.”

For more information about Denbighshire Music Co-operative activities and its music tuition opportunities visit: www.denbighshiremusic.com