This autumn saw a meeting where all Future Songwriting partners got together to exchange their ideas and experiences halfway through the project. Participants could see how the first ever pilots to take place outside Finland were progressing; through a teacher training and school visit in the welcoming city of Cologne. Colleagues from our local partner,  the University of Cologne did a wonderful job of introducing us to teachers and kids giving a go at Future Songwriting without disrupting the flow; and making sure we had time and space for in-depth project related discussions.

Fran Hannan of Musical Futures and part of the research team gives her account of the two days; on the methodology and the project’s potential in a blog entry. She pointed out the ‘hands-on’ approach and the European aspect of the project – on course in a country and language other than that of its origin.

“..the INTO team training delivery was ‘hands-on’, with teachers gaining an understanding of the creative processes involved through experiencing the learning from the perspective of a student.”

The training provided useful tricks and hints to tackle problems popping up during the songwriting process with pupils, such as “how to structure a song (…), write lyrics and most crucially how to support pupils to compose a melody that fits with your words and backing track.” The enthusiasm and involvement of participating teachers was apparent, with some real hits being born as a result of the workshop.

Next day partners had a chance to visit Stephan Lochner Schule, one of the two schools who signed up for the Future Songwriting pilots in Cologne. As Hannan reports, pupils could use the digital tools creatively, and “‘nailed’ the GarageBand backing track using a number of the app’s ‘smart’ features with songs reflecting each group’s chosen theme – from ghosts to robots.”

The expert also shares her take on some of the difficulties encountered along the way:

“In this session, the class teacher was working with [pupils] to help them add lyrics to their songs.  As anticipated, some pupils found this task challenging, so support from both the class teacher and other adults was necessary. Both the INTO team and the research team rolled up their collective sleeves, but not being native German speakers communicating ideas about how to go about this was tricky. As an action research project, the Future Songwriting project is designed to test out what works, what doesn’t and how the main aims and objectives can be addressed.”

In conclusion, music pedagogy expert Fran Hannan points to a possible continuation of the project’s programme: “With further discussion about collaborating on other curriculum areas already in the pipeline, it is clear that this project has the potential to reach further than its current objectives.”

Read her full account on this link, and stay tuned for the results and final event of the pilots in Cologne. We will present the fruit of the creative process: the songs created by children on our website before the end of this year.

Future Songwriting introduces a new model to music education. Using creativity and digital tools to activate children’s innate potential; the project aims to pave the way for the future of teaching music. The two-year project is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission.