Over the last 3 months of 2020 on Fridays, after school, we hosted a Youth Mentoring Program in Roleystone with the help of local professionals in the music industry. We called it the Torchlight "Celtic Club".

It was an all inclusive program with students encouraged to participate, regardless of musical ability. 

The program aim was to

  • boost self-esteem
  • manage anxiety
  • building resilience
  • build an emotionally supportive peer network

An additional aim was to show to the students that what they hear and see through social media and music streaming services is often not realistic. It is studio produced to be (artifically) perfect. It is OK to make mistakes and have your own style.

The students participating in this project were from ages 12-15 years with limited prior performing experience and little (to no) formal music training. The project was offered at no charge to the students to encourage their involvement.

The music genre was Celtic Folk Songs, so together with the kids, we picked 5 songs to work on.

 

Weeks 1 - 8: Vocal Development

Over the first 8 weeks we held weekly 2hr music workshops to help the kids "find their voice", "find their key" and become familiar with a microphone. For this to work with inexperienced students we first needed to define, create and maintain a positive peer network where students feel encouraged to sing and try new things amongst their peers. The environment is relaxed, casual and fun. 

During this time we developed song sheets with lyrics and musical notation. These were used by the students, and later, by professional musicians.

The Sea Shanty "Haul Away Joe" was the song we started on to get the students warmed up. It gives multiple students leading parts as a the "Shanty Man", after an example from the mentor in the first verse. The beauty of the shanty is that the vocalist doesn't even need to sing, they can simply shout if they wish too (which was done during rehearsals).

We wrote our own verse in the Shanty...

"On Fridays after work
We hang at the Celtic Club.
We snort, laugh, burp and sing
We stuff our gobs with some grub!"

Here are the song sheets we developed...

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Throughout the workshops we invited professional musicians to join us to encourage live musicianship. We developed basic audio recordings of the mentors for the students to learn and practice with. 

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Here is a sample of the practice tracks... (keeping in mind these are quickly produced for rehearsing and learning the material). For this, professional musicians are required to efficiently produce the practice tracks in the key suitable for the particular students singing.

"Touch the Sky" Chorus:

"Touch the Sky" Outro:

"Hanging Tree"

 "Parting Glass"

"I Could Be Your King"

During week 5 we commissioned professional musicians into a recording studio to lay down the backing tracks. These backing tracks were composed and written in the best key to match the student vocalists. The backing tracks were used in the following weeks for the students to practice and rehearse, and eventually the tracks are further developed for the music videos.

 

Week 9: Popup Recording Studio

During Week 9 we built a pop-up recording studio on the School campus to record the Student vocalists. We spent 5 half days recording the students voices.

This can be a testing time with Students with anxiety, as a recording studio can be daunting to the shy. Hearing their own voices in the headphones and standing alone sometimes takes great courage. This is when the support of the peer group to provide encouragement comes into play. We were pleased that all students quickly overcome their anxiety with remarkable results!

During this time, students were also introduced to the Audio Technical aspects of song producing.

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Week 10: Audio Mastering

Week 10 was spent mastering the audio by a professional Audio Engineer at the OrganicProductions studio.

  • Students voices were tuned and corrected to sound super good!
  • Timing was corrected.
  • Audio levels were mixed.
  • Final arrangements were made to the song arrangements and additional instruments were added.

 Final Mastered audio recordings:

Hanging Tree:

I Could Be Your King:

Parting Glass:

Touch The Sky:

Haul Away Joe:

 

Week 11: Filming

Week 11 was filming week. This involved another 5 half days in the Roleystone Community College film studio.

Students had fun applying their own makeup and costumes.

During filming the students mimed their tracks to the mastered audio so they could focus on enjoying their time on camera.

With the assistance of the Roleystone Academy of Digital Media and additional mentors, more youth were engaged behind the scenes operating cameras, lighting rigs, blue screens and camera dollies. 

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Week 12: Video Editing

The final videos were then edited and completed by professionals in the OrganicProductions studio during the 12th week. Visual effects were applied in some cases to clear the skin. Multicamera editing was used to make the content more engaging. Animation was added.

 

Final Results

After a screening of the these videos, our oldest student (year 10) was accepted into the year 11 Kelmscott High School music program. Without the Torchlight project, this student would not have been accepted (had no formal training).

Here are our final videos...

Behind the Scenes

To give you an idea of the crew involved to produce these videos (all under 16 years)...

 

Mentoring and Production Hours

To achieve this outcome the following hours were spent: 

  • Organic Productions: 244 hrs
  • Additional Music Workshop Mentor: 50hrs
  • Musicians: 4 off 20hrs each. (80 hrs).
  • Film and TV Mentor: 20hrs
  • Audio Gear: 5 days
  • Film Gear: 5 days
  • Venue: In Kind