Artist Liam Chapman is one of the Sprog Rock band members working across four local authorities to create brand new music with children in different nurseries. In his project blog he talks about his favourite moments of creative genius from the children he’s been working with, and how the kids engage with new music and instruments in their own unique ways.
Sprogs I ‘Never-Thought-I-Could-Even-Imagine’
Hello! I am Liam, the drummer (amongst other things) in Sprog Rock!
I have bloomin’ loved working with each of the different Sprog Rock nurseries! I have also been very interested in how the collective personalities in each group have managed to help us create such completely unique and crazy songs for our set!
There have been such varying genres for us to play as a band like swing, rap and ‘90s techno as well as some surreal never-thought-I-could-even-imagine lyrics. From nursery rhyme rap battles to full on heavy metal rock out . . . from field-recording samples of what a triangle ‘sounds like’ to the storytelling of a unicorn travelling through hotels and over rainbows.
Generally and genuinely, there has been some pretty spectacular creativity . . . sometimes a toddler will come out with “when your heart beats, you know it means you’re alive” and “we like dinosaurs together”; strokes of genius that us adults perhaps might be incapable of feeling authentically off the bat. The lyrics have also led us to think more creatively about the gig as an engaging visual performance too . . . who knew we’d be line-dancing or dressing up as a lion or wearing heavy metal moshing wigs? . . . and realising some accents within us that we never knew existed?!
The kids have responded very well to our collection of different instruments – it has been great to share such a diversity of percussion, brass, woodwind, vocals and electronics. Some have loved dancing to the drums and some talking and singing about Birthdays and telling us about their dreams down the end of a microphone.
There have been a couple of challenges – drums are pretty loud and it can get a little out of control volume-wise! It’s also been tricky to let the kids try out instruments such as saxophone and trumpet as they are more complicated to play. In an ideal world, it would be great to have a full orchestra!
One of my fondest memories of the project so far was in Greengables Nursery where Ronan introduced the sound of his clarinet to the group. It seemed to create many exotic sounds (peeps and squeaks, smooths and shrieks) that hadn’t been heard before and there was a beautiful moment where all of the kids began to laugh, which in turn made us start to laugh and then we laughed for a good 5 minutes. Such pure innocent joy! My favourite instrument has to be Rory’s sousaphone, which has been made in to a giant elephant . . . which will be hard to miss if you come to the show! A visual delight!
From our experiences of research in the nurseries, I feel we’ve managed to organically delve in to emotions of fun, fear, safety, sleepiness and uncertainty . . . often silly, sometimes profound, veering away from traditional, saccharine and perhaps patronising ‘kiddy-music’ and I love Sprog Rock because of this – we like to break the rules a little! I also feel projects like Sprog are very important while there are many schools where music is currently being cut from the curriculum . . . the band are very passionate about exposing early years to unique and great music from a young age and introducing them to a genuine social and interactive environment, where there is an element of excitement, unfamiliarity and inclusiveness. I like the idea that we might encourage the value of music in our everyday life and promote the enriching and positive effect it can have on us, throughout the many aspects of growing.
I believe that developing the songs we have created with the nurseries has also been brilliant as it gives them ownership and a sense of pride when their song is being performed live! We have seen lyrics being sung back a few times! I also think it might let the kids feel inspired and believe that writing music is easily achievable, that they are capable of being creative as they grow up (and not that commercial and unrealistic things like X Factor are the only chance we have!). It is nice to dream of being famous too though!
There have been some magical moments at the live gigs and the reactions have been wonderful. At the MacRobert Centre, there was a boy running in circles round the room with his light up-trainers from the get go. There has been a lot of jumping and bouncing. A lot of dancing. Sometimes there are faces that just stare . . . maybe it’s in awe of the experience and having an overload of emotions or maybe it’s because there are massive giants jumping around wearing pink lycra tights! Ahhh!
The performances have been exceedingly fun. We are halfway through and I can’t wait for the rest of the tour!
Thanks for reading!
The Sprog Rock 2017 Tour continues at LYRA:
LYRA | 4 November | 12:00 & 14:30