L&P Project Snapshot #3: Takeover (2013-4)


Takeover Festival is a project which enables primary school pupils to become amateur producers with responsibility for the programming and production of their own miniature festival. Over several weeks, the children work with our music leaders to programme events, write and perform their own songs, and market the festival to the rest of the school. The project culminates when the students take over the school for a day with singing, dancing, sound installations and other creative activities.

The project aims to provide the experience and skills needed to produce music events, and get music into the heart of school life. Last year, we took Takeover to Canon Barnett Primary School and Shapla Primary School, and on Friday 28 March Takeover: Boom! Festival happens at Kobi Nazrul School. It’s a single form entry primary school situated just off Whitechapel High Street behind the East London Mosque and has been part of our Neighbourhood Schools programme for 3 years.

We spoke to our Director of Learning and Participation Clare Lovett about her ideas behind Takeover and what we should expect to see and hear at Kobi Nazrul on Friday:

‘The idea of Takeover emerged from discussions about what makes Spitalfields Music distinct from other music organisations working within schools.  We found that the main area of difference is that we produce and present music through our two annual festivals, putting neighbourhood engagement through exceptional music-making at the heart of our programme.

Our research questions were easy, Our main area of activity is producing a festival. What happens if we give young people the opportunity to produce their own festival at a moment of transition in their school lives (moving from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2)? How do we enable them to take over their school and collaboratively devise, create and present their own festival? How might using music as a rite of passage impact their school, their learning and their music skills? Having taken the idea to two schools, Canon Barnett and Shapla Primary Schools, Boom!  is the third in the Takeover series at Kobi Nazrul Primary School.

The Year 3 pupils (7 year olds) have been working on this project throughout this term with a small group of visiting musicians, parents and staff.  To provide inspiration for the festival, we gave them the Greek story of Persephone to explore as a starting point.  The pupils have programmed the day, deciding what will happen when, making practical arrangements, and creating and performing the music.

On the Takeover day you will encounter a fantastical journey to the Underworld.  The Year 3s will be joined by professional musicians as they perform in hallways and classrooms throughout the day.  Before the final performance in front of the school, you can visit the three sound installations created by the young people and their parents:

  •          The Crack – A gigantic earthquake has left a huge crack in the ground. All manner of terrifying beasts and creepy-crawlies are coming out into the open!
  •          Tunnel to the underworld
  •          The Magic Orchard

There has been such a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm put into this project – from the children, parents, teachers and music leaders – it’ll be brilliant to see their efforts coming together to form a fun-filled day of creativity which everyone can be really proud of!’

Clare Lovett

Takeover is also part of a research project supported through AHRC funding working with researchers from QMUL School of Human Geography. The research investigates the impact of our work in the local area and asks how music can help create a sense of community.


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