Well done to all the young players who willingly gave everything to the camp and brought a little bit of magic to DkIT every day that week and shared it around…
-Elaine Agnew, Composer and Course Director
What a wonderful week in July we had at DKiT, Dundalk for our Corda Connections Summer Music Camp. Composer Elaine Agnew was a truly inspirational course director for all the young people and the tuition team that included Jayne, Ursula and Mary-Jane from Music Generation Louth, Kathrine and Sheena from the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Alannagh and Dominique from Zipped Eye Productions.
Forty young players registered for the course. Jayne did a great job creating the 7 chamber groups and with Alannagh’s help, each group gave themselves a fun name.
We designed the course to give some new types of musical learning experiences. Everyone had a go at playing chamber music, composing, improvising, learning music by ear, making arrangements and exploring multimedia.
What a fantastic mix of music was on offer – Mussorgsky, Pachelbel, Haydn and Faure: Nina Simone, Lukas Graham, Ed Sheeran and Queen: Traditional reels and old time Appalachian with lots of experimenting improvising and contemporary sounds in between!
Each day was varied, starting with Altogether Sessions at 10am where we listened, danced, sang and played. Smaller group sessions followed where everyone got the chance to work with different tutors each day doing different things. The multimedia sessions were really popular with everyone. The photos and films that were created in the multimedia classes were so inventive and fun.
Thanks to Alannagh, lunchtimes were filled with interesting things to do – from board games to open mic for a bit of karaoke and daily quizzes with Kathrine’s live version of Name that Tune going down a storm.
The garden or as it became known to us, The Jungle (!) in the PJ Carroll’s building provided the perfect performance platform for our end of week showcase concert that opened with a powerful rendition of Promenade from Mussorgky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Audience applause was held to the end whilst each group took its turn to perform a selection of their chamber pieces. Under Jayne’s direction, the group played an ingenious mash-up of Pachelbel’s Canon, The Pachelbel Reel and Amazing Grace. Who would have thought all that music could fit together so perfectly!
It really felt like the end of a week-long party with the audience joining the tutors and young people on stage for the dancing to old time Appalachian tune Julieann Johnsons.
Here’s looking forward to more next year!
View the musician biographies here.
Some comments lovely comments from the young people-
“I have great fun with the teachers/tutors” “I liked the canon in our first class” “AMAZING! COOL! FUN!”
“Very good, loved it” “I enjoyed the week, it was fun. I loved doing star wars and the polka”
“I enjoyed the week, I had so much fun. I learned how to do vibrato” “It gives you a chance to express your feelings”
“Very enjoyable- *****” “I had great craic! #music” “I met a new friend. I loved the teachers.”
“I learnt how to play canon in D and the French folk song. I loved doing multimedia, filming and the Mexican wave while playing the violin.”
Group 1 – Fantastic Four
Anna, Heather, Mary-Ellen and Katie Marie
We used the D major scale to dream up different sounds. We played it in canon together trying to feel the beat as a group. We also used the arpeggio too. We explored a little about how to make harmonies from the d major scale discovering how to figure out the notes for chord 1,4 and 5. We then started to learn Somewhere Over the Rainbow by ear as it’s based on the notes from the D major scale. We then started to put harmonies against the melody and worked on staying together even when we were playing different things. Using some of the lyrics from Somewhere over the rainbow – blue skies, birds, rainbow, lullaby – to create soundscapes to paint a picture of our piece. We then decided on an arrangement together of how we could perform it. A really lovely thing that this group did was some students took responsibility of leading certain sections in. Sheena
Group 2- Swag Seven
Molly, John, Emily, Fionn,Erica, Mary Kate, Kristine
We looked at a poem by Irish poet Pat Ingoldsby called Night Cold from which each student secretly picked a single word (sky, stars, silver, sea, birds,cold, night) and described it by composing their own solo little piece which they then played to everyone else who had to guess what their chosen word was! I was so impressed by the originality of their ideas and how well they portrayed their word with sounds at such a young age! Elaine
We explored ways of playing our instruments for the different numbers and animal sounds in the song “Over in a Meadow” Kathrine
Group 3- Suspicious six
We played a variety of music and explored a Alleluia cannon, and some Sheila Nelson quartets in the first sessions. We played little parts of Starwars as a break/treat, which was originally intended for an older group but the group were so excited and learned the bowing styles and rhythmic fragments so quickly with such enthusiasm, that we went ahead and learnt the whole arrangement.
I had included some tricky bowing patterns and polyrhythms in the cello and second violin parts with lots of re-takes and fiddly semiquavers, Fionn and the 2nd violins ( I’ll get their names later?!) were terrific, they really kept a John Williams style energy and vigour going. Great work and ensemble playing. The Violas got to play the soaring melody with the first violins. lots of bow work and memory, They all made a fantastic job of it. Kathrine
Group 4- Foxy
Isabel, Kerri, Grace, Yohanna, Isobel & Alice
We learnt to play the tune of Dar Um Jeito (the World Cup Song from 2014) by ear and then had a go at inventing harmonies using 3rds and 5ths. The 5th’s definitely gave a medieval vibe! We also sang it a little and brain stormed our own verse to rap. Running Wild, running free, that’s how we like to be, let’s be united as one, together we’ll have some fun, Sharing our music around, together we make a great sound, we have respect for all and compassion for those that fall. Sheena
We created improvisations which collated into a single score incorporating elements from each player. It was great fun playing through the ideas, from “play any natural note and sharpen it in free time” to “slap yourself and things around you to make abstract sounds!” We laughed so much and it sounded fantastic! Elaine
(An assortment of notes from Elaine Agnew)
Group 5- The Bestest
Cillian, Emma, David, Fionnuala, Anna
We made an amazing version of Lukas Graham’s 7 Years Old, arranging it ourselves and playing from memory. Their version of Biber’s Battalia was truly amazing! Performed with chopsticks to accentuate the rhythm and highlighting tutti passages and rhythmic counterpoint! It sounded like something from 6 Drummers and Apartment for https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVPVbc8LgP4 The group began adding words to this, which was a lot of fun and I hope they get the chance to finish! Following in the footsteps of Berio,and Ernest Toch’s “Geographic Fuge”-Kathrine
Group 6: Black Music
Elizabeth, Bláthnaid, Eadaoin, Alannagh, Michelle and Sophie
We created a stunning music story of a ship wreck based around the traditional song Báidin Fheilimí. We layered the tune in a creepy way, all playing it at the same time different speeds, changing notes when we liked, listening to each other and the sounds of the different notes changing against each other, it was so atmospheric. Kathrine
We learnt each of the sections of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good by ear; intro, main tune, bass line, triplet section, interlude, harmony line with each split into harmonies. We layered it up and made some choices about what should go where and who wanted to play each part. We tried to keep our heads up and share some eye contact while we were playing to communicate with one another. We went a little further with the idea of communicating with one another as we play and used the A natural minor scale to do this. We made up some of our own ‘call & responses’ with each student creating their own little phrases and the others trying to copy them back identically. We also did a little singing and composed a verse which ended up being mostly about our favourite foods! One of our group had a birthday during the week at camp so a shout-out to her was included in our verse! Sheena
Group 7 – Giggly Chickens
Zoe, Zara, Adam, Justin and Dearbhla
We first learnt to sing the Lion Sleeps Tonight in 3 sections and then sang all three sections layered on top of each other. From here we learnt to play the 3 parts of the song by ear on our instruments. As we worked on this skill of learning music by ear, we found different ways to represent this. We sat in a circle and used our bodies to show the music ascending and descending and we also made a scale ladder that we could step on and control the notes moving up and down. We had a lot of fun with this song!
The multimedia classes during Corda Connections were packed with lots of photography and video fun. Over the course of the week each of the groups had a chance to become the director, the subject and the camera operator. They learned the meaning of photography, explored different styles and even got a chance to play around with some old cameras!
Once the groups were shown the basic functions of a camera and some tips for capturing the best shots they were off to work playing with props, posing with their instruments and snapping the perfect pictures. They learnt how to work with tripods, a professional clapperboard, backdrops and a digital SLR- the Canon EOS 600D. Every group brainstormed and participated in the making of a short green screen video. They had fun playing their instruments in front of the lens and displaying their fabulous acting skills while running away from dinosaurs and dragons on screen!
Overall every member of the group got a chance to express themselves creatively in many different ways, some favouring being the “star” whilst others shone behind the camera.