Children celebrate diversity at Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love

Over three harmonious months during the summer, we brought together children aged 5–10 from two primary schools in Westminster, to compose original songs based on the theme of friendship.

Under the guidance of our professional musician Hannah Dunster, children from Hallfield Primary School and St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School spent the first workshop playing musical icebreaker games, helping them to strike up friendships and improve their confidence. As the project progressed, they began contributing ideas for lyrics and melodies as a group, exploring their creative potential until they had written a collection of heart-warming compositions.

In July, the workshops culminated in two performances at Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love, in which the children sung their songs to rapturous applause from an audience of family members, friends, teachers and members of the public.

As part of our Celebrating Diversity programme, each workshop encouraged the children to think about friendship and the benefits of living in a diverse community. The project provided them with a creative outlet to express their feelings and emotions, and gave them the opportunity to learn from one another, develop self-confidence, and feel proud at what they had achieved as a group.

Aurora, one of the children who took part in the project told us:

“It was really fun because we got to make up songs. We started with a Hello Song and a Goodbye Song. We also played lots of games including A Night in the Museum and Barry the Beaver.

My favourite parts of the project were meeting everyone, especially Create’s musician, and when we worked in groups to come up with our ideal friend. We made up a girl who liked ice skating.

I used to do drama at Sylvia Young on Saturdays where I learnt a bit of singing too, like high and low harmonies. Now I usually sing at home when I’m brushing my teeth or just before I go to sleep. It’s different singing with other people because you’re learning how to be friends at the same time. I’ve made loads of new friends on the project. When I was singing the harmonies I saw some people smiling at me so I think they liked what I was doing so I smiled back. I never knew I could write music. When I was about four years old, I start singing my own tunes but I couldn’t write them down because I couldn’t really write at that age. When I sing at home, I imagine singing in a concert. When my mum and dad are asleep I just sing in my head. My mum noticed that I liked singing so she signed me up to a choir and then this project with Create came up so it’s perfect really. Now I want to go to choir even more because I feel singing is my talent. I like dancing too by my mum says I’m better at singing.

I’ve never sung somewhere like the Southbank Centre before so it’s a big opportunity for me. When I’m older I think I want to be a singer, an artist and a vet, and my friends and parents are supportive of that. When people cheer me on, it helps me to keep going.”

Many thanks to Strand Parishes Trust and Westminster Amalgamated Charity for funding the project.