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Musicport 2008

Etran Finatawa musicians work with Bridlington music students
20 October 2008

A group of 20 teenagers were privileged to accompany the Niger band Etran Finatawa on stage at Bridlington's World Music Festival in October thanks to a project made possible by Music4U "the Humber Region Action Zone" and BBC Blast.

The GSCE and 'A' level students from Headlands Secondary School in Bridlington had the African music section of their music syllabuses brought to life when five band members came to the school to work with them and prepare three numbers to perform at this prestigious Festival.

Joined by Music4U's community musicians Carol Dawson, Donna Smith and Lisa Oliver the students got first hand tuition and learnt new African singing rhythms, drumming and guitar playing.

Music proved to be a universal language and the lack of a common language between the musicians and students did not create any barriers.

Music teacher Zoe Backhouse said the project had been an overwhelming success. She commented: "This type of opportunity doesn't come along every day. As there was no common language the students had worked harder to understand and watched intensely and copied. They have learnt new skills and it has done wonders for their African rhythm. It was a tremendous challenge but they have managed incredibly well.

"The chance to appear in a live performance will hopefully give them the confidence to do it again and be more confident in general."

As well as learning new music skills the students got the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding about African culture and to share their own culture with the musicians.

After two sessions of intense practise the students performed their pieces alongside Etran Finatawa in front of an audience of hundreds at Musicport and were extremely well received.

Ryan Hutson, 14, really got into the rhythm and was singing, dancing and clapping on stage. He said: "Everything has been brilliant about this project, it's been so exciting and performing on stage was magic. I would really like to do it again."

Guitarist Peter Kench, 18, had enjoyed the completely different approach to music making. He commented: "This project has really given me new ideas and has opened my mind. It will definitely change the way I play the guitar and will be experimenting with some of the different tunings I have learnt."

Delma Tomlin, Director of Music4U - the Humber Region Action Zone - added that this project had been a tremendous success and had connected young people in the community with world music and this amazing festival which has been re-homed at The Spa in Bridlington. She added: "We were very impressed with the students, the teaching period was intense and they all co-operated and worked extremely hard to prepare themselves for this performance and they did themselves proud!"

Those who took part in this project have the opportunity to put their music and share it with others on the BBC Blast website at