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AGE TO AGE in Stories and Songs

A project by Roger Watson and Janet Dowling. Irregular Records are delighted to make this available to everyone on their web site, as a free resource.

Download the project as a Word file (569 KB)

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Read about the project

See a sample page or two of the project

About the Project

This inter-generational project, carried out in four series between 2008 and 2010, involved primary school pupils (KS2) and users of older peoples’ day centres/residential care homes/reminiscence groups, in the same areas of Bracknell Forest Borough in Berkshire. Reminiscences gathered from the older people were worked into the form of songs by the school pupils, and then sung to the people whose stories inspired them.

The project used two artists: singer/songwriter Roger Watson and storyteller/reminiscence worker Janet Dowling, who worked both independently and together at various stages of the workshop series.

The first stage of each project consisted of visits by Janet to the older persons’ group(s), to gather stories and reminiscences from the residents or members.

In the second stage, Janet introduced the reminiscences to the primary school group. The pupils then built each into song form, guided by Roger. The songwriting was carried out on a whole group basis and the melodies were largely derived or adapted from English folk songs. The sessions were carried out in lunchtime or after-school periods.

An initial session with both artists introduced the themes to the students, using story-telling practices and workshop leaders, then encouraged the group(s) to select themes for expansion. This session also included an exercise in basic songwriting techniques.

The next six sessions were with Roger alone. These introduced each group and teacher/leader to the group songwriting method, mapped out possible directions for development of each theme, completed two songs and rehearsed the singing of all songs by both school groups. (A description of the song writing process can be found at the end of this book.)

A final full-day session with both artists completed a recording and one or more performances for other pupils/staff/parents and carers/friends of the schools and, most importantly, the story-givers and others from the older persons’ group.

The Age to Age scheme was devised by Roger Watson when he was Artistic Director of Traditional Arts Projects (TAPS) and two project series had previously been carried out in Basingstoke, with help from Age Concern and support from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Kingfisher Housing. The Bracknell projects were funded by Bracknell Forest Borough Council through their Arts and Heritage and Extended Services Departments.


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