Further information on the
Woodland Haiku composing Project



Setting up the page to work optimally using Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player

  • In the bottom right hand corner of Windows Media Player are window resizing arrows. Click on the box that offers the option to switch to "compact mode". Move the player window out of the way if you have enough room on the screen.
  • There are nine compositions to find in the picture (including the title music). If you wish to hear the verses in order rest the pointer on a hotspot and the verse number should appear briefly. If you do not see a number appear click in a "cold" part of the picture. This should reactivate the alternate tags.


What this project was about
The class involved in this project was a mixed Y3-Y6 class in a small rural primary school. The pupils had been looking at haiku in other lessons and this was a good opportunity to make connections with skills often required in composing, particularly in getting to the point and working within a given timeframe. We discussed how theme tunes and advertising jingles, for example, have to communicate their musical messages in a very limited amount of time and that, when I receive a composition commission, there is usually a target time to meet for the finished product. We set to work to try to create soundscapes to reinforce the moods captured so succinctly in Wes Magee's collection of haiku on a woodland theme. This work was initially carried out using voices and available classroom intruments. The main difficulty encountered by the pupils was to compact their ideas into very short performances.

Once they had worked out and rehearsed their compositions, a process that took place over several weeks, we looked at the opportunities for changing their work using music technology. I took my portable recording rig into school and, with a Y6 pupil as "sound engineer" we recorded the pieces one at a time into Logic, a computer program into which one can record and process audio. After each composition was recorded to the satisfaction of all, we looked at ways of processing different parts of the music. Some pupils were quite clear that they didn't want to do much with the sound at all while others enjoyed changing the pitch of their voices, playing sounds backwards or adding effects such as reverb and delay.

Flexibility in class organisation was required to enable this part of the project to happen. Pupils came to a quiet part of the school in groups to record their music, whereas I would normally teach a whole class at a time. Recording, like rehearsal, is a process that needs time. Some pupils thought they could get instant results, which is rarely the case without too much input from the teacher.

This project is consistant with requirements in the programme of study for music and fits neatly into Unit 13, "Painting with Sound", and Unit 18, "Journey into Space" of the QCA scheme.

The Woodland Haiku, by Wes Magee, is published as a project in Alligator Raggedy-Mouth by Maureen Hanke and Jacalyn Leedham (A & C Black - London 1996)

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