Created by award-winning singer/songwriter Ashley Fayth, the Starling Sessions are a series of interactive workshops designed to help children write, perform, and record songs inspired by important environmental issues (or a subject of your choosing). Participants get to “join” Ashley’s band “The Starlings”, and will:
LEARN how to use music to spread the word about important environmental issues like sustainability and conservation.
WRITE an original song. Songwriting requires problem solving, literacy skills, teamwork, musicality, research, maths, and creativity!
PERFORM their composition, with musical accompaniment.
RECORD and release their original song, and have their track added to the Ashley Fayth & The Starlings online playlist (and Spotify).
SHARE their newly released song, and a very important message, with the world!
Ashley’s children’s songs have been featured in campaigns for Chester Zoo, the European Association for Zoos and Aquaria, and AmaSing. She has most recently released “Sing for Songbirds” and “The Palm Oil Conga” as part of the Act for Wildlife conservation effort. Ashley has showcased at major music festivals including SXSW, CMJ New York, CMW Toronto, Liverpool Soundcity, Festival No.6, Kendal Calling, and Carfest. She has received songwriting awards from Universal Music and and the Canadian Songwriters’ Association.
BRIDGE OF HOPE
Ashley Fayth & The Starlings (featuring Childer Thornton Primary)
Students aged 7-11 performing their song about the importance of using and promoting sustainable palm oil.
SESSION ONE (2 hours)
- Students will be asked to discuss why we write songs, and begin to think about how songs are used to tell stories
- Introduction to key “songwriting” words, song structure/anatomy.
- Students will listen to (and sing) a song, then discuss the song’s theme(s), structure, musicality, etc.
- The group will collectively select a theme, and decide on a song format and working title. We will discuss tempo, style, mood, etc.
- The group is broken down into smaller groups to give individuals a chance to discuss and record their ideas on paper.
SESSION TWO/THREE (2-3 hours)
- Rhyme Time Activity: Students learn about rhyme schemes, then get to practice by participating in a special sing-a-long game.
- Students begin building upon their ideas from the previous session. We use this time to work organically through verses and chorus with lots of open group discussion, brainstorming, and trial and error.
- We record a “working demo” of the finished (or nearly finished) song.
- Students are asked to design artwork for their song by the next session.
- Following this session, students will be supplied with lyrics and a recording of the demo for rehearsal.
- After a rehearsal, the group will perform their new original song with Ashley.
- The song will be recorded live, and a copy will be sent to the school.
- SURPRISE! The recorded song will be “released” as a single and uploaded to the Ashley Fayth & The Starlings playlist for all the world to hear!
REQUIREMENTS & FAQS
How many students are required to book a workshop? There’s no minimum requirement, but most classes are booked with roughly 15-30 students. For much larger classes, sessions are often split into two groups. Feel free to get in touch if you have special requirements.
What age groups do you cater for? All of them – and mixed classes of varying ages/levels are also welcome!
Will students need previous experience in songwriting/instrumentation? Nope. Just a love of music. No skills/experience/virtuoso talent required.
Can we choose our song’s theme? Definitely! If there’s something in particular you’d like to write about, just let me know in advance. I recently worked with a number of schools who were trying to raise awareness for sustainable palm oil, so we used this as our starting point. If you don’t have a particular subject in mind, that’s also fine!
What materials/preparation are required? Access to at least one large whiteboard, some plain A4 paper, and enough pencils for the class. Ideally sessions should take place in a large, bright, open space (hall/classroom/outside) that is conducive to creativity and movement. Be aware that the workshops can get a little noisey!
What’s the time frame? Ideally we’d book sessions on a Tuesday and Thursday of the same week, but this is very flexible. It’s even possible to run all three sessions in one day!
Where are you based, and will you travel? I’m based in Chester, UK, and I travel all over the world.
How much does the program cost? Please use the form below to enquire about cost. Be sure to include the (approximate) number of students, location (postcode), age-range, dates, and any other information you feel might be relevant.
Ashley came into school to develop a song based on the theme ‘Reach for the Stars’. The project involved all of the children in the song writing process and they all had an input into writing the lyrics. The learn, write, perform, record and share elements of the workshop enabled each and every child to participate and enjoy – having fun working towards a recorded song to share more widely. Ashley expertly guided the children and took all of their ideas on board to weave together a superb song that hit the brief brilliantly. An added sprinkle of humour and smiles ensured that the sessions were a success. a huge than you to Ashley from us all at Kelsall. We loved it so much that we will be booking Ashley again next term for another song!
David Wearing, Kelsall Primary School Principal and Director of the Cheshire Leadership & Teaching Alliance
Ashley is brilliant teacher- full of enthusiasm and warmth. She is very passionate and the children were completely engaged in the session. Children learned about important conservation topics, but were having so much fun that they didn’t realise they were learning! The songs the kids wrote with Ashley with were brilliant and very powerful. I would highly recommend Ashley, the children absolutely loved writing songs with her!
Dr Naiara O’Mahony, Chester Zoo Learning
We worked with Ashley as part of a whole school project linked to palm oil, sustainability and the impact that using unsustainable products has on wildlife such as orangutans. It was a fantastic process from start to finish and I would highly recommend Ashley to anyone wanting to use music and songwriting to deliver a message. Ashley skillfully facilitated the songwriting project so that children were able to take ownership of the song and were highly engaged throughout. The pride they felt once the finished song was showcased was evident and a very special moment to cherish. Not only that, but it’s extremely catchy too! A sign of a great song! Thank you Ashley!Jenny MacManus, Year 2 & Music Teacher, Childer Thornton Primary