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The Arts at Dartington

Shared Inventions

Sunday 19 February

Shared Inventions is an innovative year-long project exploring, sharing and celebrating the inherent creativity of children aged 4 and 5 as widely as possible. In two neighbouring schools in Torquay, Devon, an experienced composer/musician has been working for a year with a group of nearly 90 young children following, documenting and inspiring their musical creativity. The musical approaches observed are then shared with others, including older children in the same schools (aged 10/11), parents, musically gifted and talented teenagers from the SW region, teachers and other music leaders. This sharing has resulted in many new approaches and hundreds of new musical pieces and songs.

The challenge for this project was two-fold; initially to show that musical inventions by 4 and 5 year old children are transferable, relevant and interesting to others; and secondly, through spending a whole year with the group, to explore how music can be seen (and heard) as a normal play activity within the class and not as an exclusive specialised activity.

Each week composer Hugh Nankivell worked with the young groups, initiating a musical provocation and then observing, following and supporting the resultant musical output, be it in pictures, words, scribbles, songs, instrumentals, dances and stories. Hugh then shared this material and approaches to music with a mixed year 5/6 after school band (from both the schools) and on a course with students from South-West-Music-School (SWMS) aged 11-18. Additionally there have been shared sessions with parents, school staff and for teachers and music-leaders throughout the region.

The whole process was documented and the resultant films were analysed in order to see more clearly what creative processes were emerging. A wide range of musical instruments were introduced to the groups. The children’s voices were listened to, especially regarding how the project developed and morphed.

The myriad partnerships in Shared Inventions have worked well, and in particular the relationship that Hugh has developed with the schools, the teachers, the TA’s, the children and the volunteer and trainee music leaders, such that they can talk frankly about what is emerging and change tack when they need to. Youth Music have funded the project and SWMS have been instrumental in providing a young trainee and so warmly accepting the project as an integral part of their ‘normal’ work with teenagers. We have been supported by Torbay Council who have helped to promote the work, have been managed and co-ordinated by Dartington Arts and we have had an invaluable buddy partner in ‘Visible Thinking’ from Bristol who have helped shape and scope the project at every turn.

The two schools engaged in Shared Inventions are very different organisms and getting them to share their approaches has sometimes been difficult, but, through working for a whole year and, with other staff gradually becoming aware of the project, it has started to be a very genuine shared invention.

The results of this project have been astonishing. Each week new songs, stories, musicals, compositions, and more are created by an increasingly confident group of young people. There is an understanding that their musicality is accepted as they have heard older children and adults developing their initial musical inventions into new compositions. The young children fully explore their musicality and develop ideas and now understand that music is a regular part of being playfully creative and that what they do is valued as being something more than just an activity that happens in school. These young people are communicating through using music. Parents are being persuaded to get instruments for their children and they talk about musical creativity to Hugh and school staff whenever they see them.

The project is funded by Youth Music and is managed by The Dartington Hall Trust supported by Torbay Council.


Shared Inventions Blog Posts

Shared Inventions - Blog 31

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… The last blog of the year – Thank you for reading – see you in the autumn. read more

Shared Inventions - Blog 30

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… We had a great afternoon at Dartington. The hall was full of about 250 people – from the very young to the elderly.... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 29

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… This was the last session in school before the shared inventions day at Dartington, and we had a musical guest,... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 28

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Today I was could only stay for the first part and left soon after 10.30, but even so, there was loads I observed... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 27

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… To begin with Sarah and I led a story-square with music using the collaboratively written ‘Fire Castle’ (see... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 26

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Last session of the half term. The whole class a bit high from multiple Jubilee parties… read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 25

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… I led a teacher’s workshop on the Shared Inventions project the night before my session at Homelands. I gave an... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 24

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Sarah and I discussed the idea of seeing if a group piece could be created today… read more

The happy/sad glockenspiel

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 23

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Three provocations/starting points today, from a mix of ideas from Sarah and me. read more

'T 'on the ramp

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 22

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Chatted with Sarah before coming in and she keen to continue the idea of story incorporating music and song and to... read more

Concert in the hall - Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 21

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Concert in the hall – the whole class looking beautiful (they had spent over twenty minutes discussing what we... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 20

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Started with three songs and a quick chat with Sarah about how much music has taken over all of their work and... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 19

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Today’s provocation was to introduce the idea of ‘chorus’ after I sang ‘K’s’ epic from the previous... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 18

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… We began by showing the group three films of teenagers playing the Homelands ‘pieces’ from the residential... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 17

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… The Shared Inventions buddy partners ‘Visible Thinking’ (Sandra Barefoot, Mike Akers and Sarah Moody – all... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 16

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… During the school half term holiday I ran two residential courses, both of which engaged with the Shared Inventions... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 15

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… This week was mainly about song writing. Individuals, pairs and small groups got on with making up their own new... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 14

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… We did the ‘name game’ first off – for 2 reasons, my embarrassment at not being able to remember their names... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 13

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… I arranged the words about ‘Miss Chatterbox’ from T last week and composed a song called ‘Miss...

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 12

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… During the week I worked to create a new alphabet song (as Sarah had commissioned) and sang it to the group, but... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 11

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… A morning of experiments. At the start of the session I did ‘Two Little Dickie Birds’ and this intrigued them,... read more

Hugh Nankivell

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 10

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… The final sessions of the year and real ‘Shared Inventions’ with reception classes, year 6 classes and...

Hugh Nankivell

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 9

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Lots of visitors today, four other adults in the space in addition to James and I and the regular Homelands staff,... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 8

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Full group together – I sang ‘Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho’ and taught it line by line to the group. We got the bit with the... read more

Hugh Nankivell

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 7

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… A different kind of music play today – it was a session for parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and more.... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 6

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… Two ideas for today – to see what might develop with the lullaby and ‘Making a Band’. read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 5

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… More relaxed in my uprepared/preparedness today. Perhaps the persistent rain helped as I cycled up the steep...

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 4

Artist Hugh Nankivell writes… At home all morning and I spend all the time preparing and unpreparing, trying to prepare and then trying to... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 3

Hugh Nankivell writes… So what went wrong? I loved the way that Sarah Butler – the class teacher – gave me such a look as we were analysing the... read more

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 2

Hugh Nankivell writes… We investigated the accordion and there were many comments about how to play it. I sang them the new song ‘Like’ with... read more

Shared Inventions Blog 1 Image

Shared Inventions - Homelands Blog 1

Hugh Nankivell writes… For Shared Inventions there are really two things we are uncovering, revealing, discovering and encouraging. On the one... read more

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