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Throughout September and October 2010, 27 year 5 pupils and 32 year 6 pupils attended five workshops as part of "salt in the air" a creative music project in Neyland Community School. The aim of the project was to write some new sea shanties which would be in the style of traditional shanties, but made relevant to the children’s experience of the sea in 21st century Wales.

Led by community musicians Helen Adam and George Whitfield, the children learnt about the origins and functions of sea-songs and shanties including learning a traditional shanty, ‘Haul Away Joe’, as well as a Welsh language sea-song by J. Glynn Davies, ‘Harbwr Corc’.

They were then sent to observe and report back on working life on the sea and by the sea -shore in their own town, and discussed their own families’ involvement with the sea and maritime industries.

Inspiration for the lyrics to the songs arose out of these discussions. All the children collaborated to produce the words to the songs, often adding suggestions to improve others initial ideas, so the whole process was very communal, and much enjoyed by the children.

The musical requirements of a shanty were explored, and the children, individually, contributed melodic ideas which they wove together into a complete tune. In the songs created by both groups, rhythm and ‘sing ability’ were the foremost considerations.

The children then devised actions to further improve their songs, and practised singing and performing them, prior to the project culminating in a public performance to mark the opening of Migration echoes and traces Neylands 2010 festival of community arts.

These performances were recorded and can be seen on you tube here and here

Sheet music for Year 6's shanty "Rock little boat" can be downloaded here and Year 5's "Tell Kate" here


salt in the air was supported by the Ernest Cook Trust