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'Passing On' Musical Heritage To The Future Generation

Posted on 17 February 2017

School children are clogging, singing and storytelling about their North East heritage as part of a musical celebration of regional folk history.

‘Pass It On’ uses local artists and heritage experts to ‘pass on’ their knowledge, insight and expertise. Over the past year the project, which is run by Sage Gateshead and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has explored regional archives and collections and has brought them to life through performance.

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At six Gateshead primary schools 360 children have been learning to sing legendary regional songs such as Blaydon Races, Byker Hill and Walker Shore and The Bonny Gateshead Lass. Others have been learning famous tales such as the Great Fire of Gateshead and The Lambton Worm. The cloggers have been learning basic steps from the North East clogging tradition.

Pupils at Ryton Community Junior School, Colegate Community Primary School, Caedmon Community Primary School, St. Joseph’s RCVA Primary School, Blaydon West Primary School and Chopwell Primary School have been working on their new skills every week since the middle of January. All of their hard work will culminate in a festival at Sage Gateshead when each school will perform what they have learnt on the concourse on Friday March 3 and take part in a big ceilidh dance.

Mandy Linsley, a teacher at Blaydon West Primary School, said: “The children have been learning clogging and this whole new experience has been fantastic for them and us.

“The school has a history of clogging and this project has reignited that passion and has captured the interest of the whole school. We’ve even had parents and grandparents sharing their memories of clogging here when they were at school.”

At Caedmon Community Primary School years three and four have been learning traditional regional songs.

Daniel, aged nine, said: “We’ve been learning songs we’ve never heard before and I feel proud that we can now sing them all really well.”

Lexi, eight, said: “The songs talk about places we know but were called different names or used to be something different so it’s been fun to spot them in the songs and learn more about them.”

Muhsim, seven, said: “We’ve been learning the songs with other classes and now I know everyone’s name. I think I’m a better singer now too.”

Tamsin Austin, Director of Performance Programme at Sage Gateshead, said: “Not only are the children learning a lot about belonging and their North East roots, they are becoming more and more confident in performing and communicating, which is great to see. Whether or not a child is born in the north east, if they live here, they can feel ownership of our rich heritage and enjoy learning about it through music and fun activities.

“The project also passes on knowledge and skills to teachers so they can continue to teach the children about regional heritage outside of the workshops. “

The Pass It On Festival will continue on Saturday 4 March when Sage Gateshead will be filled with free activities and performances including heritage walks and rapper dance workshops. A collection of the region and country’s top folk musicians will be performing including Shirley Collins, Emily Portman, The Wilson Family, Rachel Newton, Alasdair Roberts, Cath and Phil Tyler and Bottle Bank Band.

The workshops will invite people to raid the archive with award-winning musicians and singers. There will also be a drop-in storytelling lounge where visitors can hear tales from First Storyteller Laureate Taffy Thomas and Young Storyteller of the Year 2014 Jake Evans.

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