“Home is strong like a lion”

A guest post from Catherine Carter, one of the founders of music charity Fairbeats!, who’s working with Upstart in London to create music inspired by Phone Home.

We’re well under way with our branch of the PHONE HOME project ‘Fairbeats! PHONE HOME’ at Action for Refugees in Lewisham (AFRIL). Fairbeats Music is a small charity based in South London working in partnership with community organisations supporting newly arrived communities. We also work with Refugee Action Kingston and Love to Learn homework club in Wandsworth.

At Fairbeats! projects, all children are given the opportunity and skills to express themselves and connect with others through music. Fairbeats! is working to enable children and families from new minority communities to overcome the barriers they face to participating fully in the musical, cultural life and wider society in the UK. We run ukulele, fife, singing and creative music making sessions with young people in South London.

Fairbeats! PHONE HOME is a song writing project in which we’ll investigate and explore ideas around home with children attending the centres.  At AFRIL we’re working with 60 children every week for around 12 weeks. We’ve been working there since 2011 teaching ukulele, fife, singing and band workshops.

Fairbeats PHONE HOME is the first collaboration between ourselves and a theatre company and we’ve been really excited to see how much everyone has been enjoying the combination of activities. One highlight of Tom’s first visit was seeing a group of often reticent boys in key stage 2 create a physical realisation including sound effects of a jumbo jet. I also loved it when reception took a trip into outer space where they floated above the earth and pointed to everything they could see – we got into a bit of a farmyard animal riff – bizarre in our weightless silent floating states!

The song writing is being led at  Afril by myself, Abimaro Gunnell, Ben Reeve and Jenn Raven. Abimaro used an amazing technique with a map and co-ordinates to co devise the melody with the kids. We’ve come up with something strange and unexpected but seriously beautiful as a starting point for lyric writing. In the end they’ll also use their drumming, ukulele and flute skills and there’ll also be some rapping in the final arrangement.

Here’s a little sneak preview of where we are at: it’ll change as we progress of course!

Home is strong like a lion

Home is blue and green like the globe

Home smells like watermelon

And feels soft and comfortable like a cloud full of feathers.