The first year of Future Songwriting saw many milestones: the first pilot outside Finland: in Cologne, Germany; an appearance on children’s TV; lyrics in both Saami and Finnish written by kids in Finland’s northernmost school, and a teacher workshops in Hungary.

The team behind the Future Songwriting concept: Kari Saarilahti, Janne and Tuomas Hiedanniemi of INTO School had a busy year, and an especially busy November. The pilot closing parties in Vantaa’s Martinlaakso School and in Cologne Germany; as well as two days of teacher training workshops in Budapest, Hungary all went down a blast.

In an interview given in Budapest, Kari outlined the gist of the pilots: “It’s not just children working for a couple of hours and then saying hey here is our song, it’s a longer process to make something meaningful.

For example writing lyrics is not compulsory, but very often children want to tell a story. Many of the songs are about friendship, global climate change, summer, or ice cream.” Janne added a note on motivation:

“When they have personal experience, you don’t have to motivate children that much. They actually want to know more. When they do a chord progression but don’t know what a chord is, they pretty soon ask: “Why does it sound like this?” It’s much easier then to explain it’s a major third, and a perfect fifth, etc. (…)We don’t want to replace traditional methods of teaching music, we just want to make it more diverse; to give new tools for kids to express themselves and get into the world of music.

“A digital device is just an instrument for the Aviici of the future; just like the violin was for Stradivari.”

The INTO Team were happy to see interest in the project also abroad. Having now introduced Future Songwriting in 3 countries, they have insight into music education across Europe. According to Janne: “It’s the same and it’s different at the same time, but the kids are pretty much as creative everywhere: their imagination is limitless.”

Kari: “There are limitations everywhere, for example having one music class per week is a struggle even in Finland. In this project we manage by combining several subjects: kids can write lyrics in English class, do choreography in sports class: we can work around limitations if the school culture supports these kinds of creative projects.” Janne: “It’s multi-disciplinary learning, and music is an integral part of it. That’s one of the challenges we’re addressing, bringing more diversity into the school system, paving the way for new methods. Change is slow, but there is hope, and we are met with a lot of openness towards our method.”

As the pilots in Cologne, teacher training in Hungary and party at Martinlaakso School, proved, Future Songwriting works well in a new environment. With pilots also taking place in France next year, the project will span thousands of kilometres and enhance creativity with the help of digital tools in four European countries. Despite its wide geographic span; children, music and the joy of creation remain at the centre of Future Songwriting.

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.