ABOUT: Sounding the Somme Resources
We have put together some ideas and starting points for pupils to compose their own music connected to themes from WW1. These range from a basic understanding and chronology of the war, to the importance of music at the time, both in the trenches and back at home. The biggest and most challenging project is to compose some music for short film clips actually filmed on the Western Front in 1916 and 1917 called Somme Unseen. The two projects called Power of Pipes and Kit Bag are quicker projects and more suitable for GCSE/Higher pupils and younger.
The resources are for music teachers and come with preparatory notes, lesson plans and fact files containing everything you’ll need to know about WW1 for this programme – it is an enormous topic! There are also links to online and digital resources, some specially produced by the Somme100 FILM project for Sounding the Somme, others by organisations commemorating WW1 such as the Imperial War Museums, the BBC and the Royal British Legion.
The projects are suitable for pupils studying GCSE, A Level, Higher and Advanced Higher music but could also be adapted for younger pupils in a secondary school.
Music teachers will be able to access the projects and deliver them in the classroom over a number of lessons to suit the time they have available. They are completely flexible and our suggestions are simply a guide. Please adapt the work to suit your pupils and their abilities. The projects support the curriculum, particularly in the areas of composition, so could be used to deliver a particular scheme of work.
As the topic is so expansive, we have made some suggestion on how to involve departments beyond music in the project. The theme lends itself well to interdisciplinary learning with history, English literature, music, art and media studies. Your school may already be working on a WW1 commemoration project, so be sure to chat to colleagues and make links across the school and the local community, particularly around the time of remembrance in November each year.
When you have finished your compositions we recommend you perform them to a live audience in your area. If you are taking part in a Somme100 FILM centenary tour performance you could include them in that concert. We are also keen to hear your work here at Sounding the Somme and we are creating a dedicated area of this website for sharing the work of young people.
Before You Begin
Before you begin any Sounding the Somme project please do read the resources in full and pick the sections that would best suit the abilities and strengths of your pupils. Some of the composing should be completed individually, particularly for A level and Advanced Higher students, but you could also set some group composition tasks if desired, and there are some projects in the resources that would lend themselves well to this style of composing. These are the projects that are more suitable for younger pupils.
Please also think about the ability of your pupils to perform and record their own work before setting composition tasks. It doesn’t matter what forces you write for, be that a ukulele orchestra, computer or a wind quintet, and we certainly don’t specify anything in our notes, it is entirely up to you. Play to the strengths of your own pupils and their musical skills and heritage.
For even more inspiration, please do arrange to visit a museum with a WW1 exhibition and check out the events pages on this website to see if there is a centenary tour performance near you. Somme100 FILM are also putting on open schools rehearsals across the country that you might be able to attend. You could also get pupils to do their own research into WW1 with their families. Does anyone know of a relative who fought in WW1? Are there any stories, photos or diaries that could be shared with the class?
As you will see from Laura’s experience outlined below, a personal connection really helps to see the war in a different dimension and bring alive people from that time and what they experienced.
ABOUT: Teacher Training Sessions
Over the coming months we are working with five local authority partners across the country to deliver training sessions for teachers on these resources. If you would like details on where these are taking place please do contact us. If you are a local authority or music hub and would like to organise a training session for teachers in your area please do contact us. We may be able to organise a twilight session but please note that our funds are limited so there may be charges involved. But let’s talk and we’ll see what we can organise.
ABOUT: The Somme100 FILM project
For five months in 1916 thousands of soldiers from Britain and its Empire fought in the bloodiest battle of our military history, the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front in northern France. 19,240 of our soldiers died on the first day alone. It is quite staggering to imagine such a large loss of life.
Amazingly enough, camera operators commissioned by the War Office captured two weeks of military activity at the beginning of the Somme battle and this footage was made into a feature-length film released in August that year. Nearly half the population flocked to see the film and it gave the public back home a chance see what it was really like on the front line. This had never been done before.
The film The Battle of the Somme is iconic. A copy remains in the National Archives and it was the first British document to be registered in UNESCO’s Memory of the World.
In 2006 the film was restored by the Imperial War Museums and released on DVD. They also commissioned film composer Laura Rossi to write a full orchestral score to accompany the film. This critically acclaimed score provides a moving music backdrop to the scenes on screen, using the powerful forces of a symphony orchestra to support the narrative and structure of the film. The musical effects in the battle scenes really bring alive the otherwise silent images and you start to imagine what the sounds might have been like if you had really been there.
Laura’s personal journey into writing the music, including learning about her own family’s role in the Battle of the Somme, has led us to this amazing Somme100 FILM centenary tour which will involve approximately 30,000 people, 100 concerts in 8 countries, including a performance at the Royal Festival Hall on the 18 November 2016.
You can read about Laura’s discovery here: