Breaking down barriers with superhero songs

creative connection Manchester 2021

During October we worked with four schools in Manchester and Salford, bringing together disabled and non-disabled children to make music. The project, creative:connection, gave students a chance to be creative and to build connections, breaking down barriers and prejudices around disability.

The four schools – Grange School and Loreto High School in Manchester, and Chatsworth High School and New Park Academy in Salford – were paired up and created music together on the theme of “modern day superheroes”.

The project culminated in a dynamic concert at Manchester Central Library on 22 October. The performance formed part of Manchester Literature Festival and was attended by pupils from the four schools, teachers, parents and guardians, Create staff, members of the public and festival, and other special guests.

“A real bond was struck as we developed the music.”

Create musician Mike Poyser
creative connection Manchester 2021

An amazing week of music making

Create musician Mike Poyser, who worked on the project and hosted the final performance, said: “It was a truly amazing week of music-making. The workshops saw two schools getting used to working together to make music with me, while Matt Dunn the other facilitator worked with the other two schools. 

“As the week went on, the music organically materialised using sound samples of poetry and their own voices alongside the children becoming more and more comfortable in each other’s company. A real bond was struck as we developed the music.

“The performance day is a complex beast trying to bring all four schools together for the first time and rehearsing all the music one last time before the show. The children really got stuck in and concentrated really hard to ensure the show went well. And it really did go well!! Forty-five minutes of brand new music was performed and lots of fun was had by all!”

creative connection Manchester 2021

Meet Liam

Liam (13), a student from Chatsworth High School, took part in the project. We spoke to him on the day before the final performance. “I’m really proud to be part of this project,” he said. “The song we’ve created is absolutely phenomenal to be honest. It feels like we’ve created The Beatles or something.

“I haven’t had the joy of making music since I was five or six years old. Ever since the pandemic I’ve been wanting to meet new people but I’ve not had the chance because we had to stay inside, which was probably the worst thing ever.

“It’s nerve-wracking [working with the New Park students] to say the least. I get stage fright and I also get an awkwardness when I meet new people, so getting to meet an entire new school … ! I feel a lot calmer now, I’m just nervous about the performance tomorrow. I’m going to need to conquer my fear, which is going to be really hard.

“Just driving to Manchester is going to be frightening. I might end up crying afterwards [with relief]. My dad would be proud if he was still alive.” 

creative connection Manchester 2021

creative:connection Manchester was funded by The Ashley Family Foundation, The Michael Tippett Musical Foundation and The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust. In-kind support was provided by Manchester Central Library and Manchester Literature Festival.