Ohope Beach School
The Ohope Beach School Choir – an open choir featuring years 0-6 (ages 5-10) – was asked to perform at the celebration for the 200th Brown Kiwi Release in the Mahy Reserve at Ohope Beach. Seeing the opportunity to turn this into a project, teacher Jenny Ward used her extensive theatre and musical background to write a set of songs; the resulting CD comes with a booklet that explores the relationship between the arts, featuring stories and lyrics, poems, background information and drawings.
A fully integrated project, we have the voices of the children in the pages and on the CD and all has been cleverly arranged by Ward with the music composed, played, produced and arranged by Greg Malcolm, a maverick of free-jazz guitar. Malcolm is a solo guitarist who incorporates loops and found-sounds, who combines his own guitar playing with improvised instrumentation. Here his guitar coaxes sound effects, channels bass-lines, provides melody and adds meaning to the words, particularly during spoken word passages.
The songs have been created by Ward and shaped by Malcolm but the stories here were written by the Year 4 (8yo) students. All are conservation-themed and the idea here is for children to explore the book and take in the stories and illustrations as they listen.
I should declare no personal interest in this – outside of being sent a copy to listen to and review. I have no connection to the school, I’m not a proud parent, friend or uncle, just a person that writes about music and culture and was chuffed to be sent this. I took my time getting to it (sorry!) – but I’m stunned by the end-result here.
It’s more than just a school project. It’s more than just music for/by children – it’s more than just a quirky idea. It’s a statement of ambition and intent and shows that with just a bit of creativity opportunities are made. I would hope that other schools are creating other such projects and that communities are behind these artistic endeavours.