Schools project hits all the right notes

18 December 2015

Music visit close up

Pupils record album with University students

Pupils from Oakdale and Pontllanfraith Comprehensive Schools visited Cardiff University this week to record their very own album with students from the University’s School of Music.

The recording session, which took place on Wednesday 16 December 2015, was the culmination of a four-month collaboration between the schools and the University. Since September Alex Davis (currently an MA in Music student at Cardiff University) and Matthew Poad (a Cardiff University music graduate) have been leading weekly workshops with the pupils, helping them with music arrangements and providing performance coaching.

Alex said: "The whole process has been a great learning curve for everyone. It's been fantastic to see the children develop their musical abilities over the term and the improvement has been massive! Recording the tracks with them has been so much fun and they have all been a pleasure to work with."

The pupils recorded three tracks:

* Shut Up and Dance (by Walk the Moon)

* Superstition (by Stevie Wonder)

* Up (by Olly Murs ft. Demi Lovato)

The project, managed by Dr Daniel Bickerton, a lecturer at the School of Music, has also been helping to bring pupils from both Schools together ahead of an upcoming merger.

Mr Martin Davis, Deputy Head Teacher of Oakdale Comprehensive and Islwyn High School, explained: “Oakdale and Pontllanfraith Schools in Islwyn are both closing and moving into a new school called Islwyn High School. This outreach project with Cardiff University has come at just the right time for our two communities. The level of engagement with the children has come on leaps and bounds, they have also made friends from another school. I have been amazed at how quickly the children have improved their music performance since working together.

“The teachers from both schools and the postgraduate music students from Cardiff University have worked well together during the project.  Today is a fantastic opportunity for the children to record a CD in a professional studio and the Islwyn Band will move forward next term to perform in The Music for Youth Regional Festival in Newport and the High Sherriff of Islwyn’s Concert in the River Front Theatre both in spring next year.”

This collaborative project was funded by the Reaching Wider First Campus partnership which works to enable students from the most diverse backgrounds to maximise their potential.

Jamie Greenway, a Year 10 pupil said: “The recording session went great and I think the whole project has really helped mould us as a group. Matt and Alex have been fantastic to work with and have really helped us to achieve our full potential. They could see how much we are capable of and knew how to give us the drive we needed. It’s been a big confidence boost and has definitely helped me to come out of my shell musically.”

Liam Billingsley, also a Year 10 pupil added: “Coming to Cardiff University to record an album has been really enjoyable. I’ve also really enjoyed working with Matt and Alex as they’ve gone through everything so thoroughly with us. I’ve developed a lot more confidence about singing now and it’s helped me to feel more comfortable about singing in front of other people. It’s also been great to see so many people getting involved in the project. It’s nice to feel part of a musical community in the school.”