Wednesday, February 01, 2017

"I Once Was the National Centre For Popular Music"

It was strange to see this building again, which is now the Student's Union building for Sheffield Hallam University. Shortly after it was built (in between its opening and the avalanche of complaints about what was inside it, and the prices in the café), the PRS invited a bunch of people up there for a one-day meeting. We were schools and composers (or in my case, a songwriter), part of their Composers in Residence scheme. I was to work with Sedgehill Secondary school in Lewisham, and four feeder primaries on a Pop Nativity; we were to devise songs to perform at Christmas that year at Sedgefield so that the primary children could get a taste of what it might be like when they moved on to secondary school.
Once the project got going it was really interesting; the primary schools were so different from each other. I would go to one and the teacher would be sitting on the floor surrounded by children with recorders, all tootling away in a little bubble of their own; in another, it was chaos. Funnily enough, the chaotic class came up with the best idea- the story of the Three Kings told by the star:

"I'm a big bright star and I'm shining tonight
Looking down from a dark blue height;
I see Three Kings upon the sand
And I'm guiding them to the promised land".

Anyway back then, music technology was just about to enter a growth spurt and we were invited to sit in a chair in the centre and experience surround sound (no, thank you). The thing I liked was the virtual mixing desk, but a lot of the rest of the stuff was a bit underwhelming, almost as though someone's uncool Grandpa had organised it all.
It's probably a lot better off as a student's union building.

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