Audio Explorers

May - August 2011

Audio Explorers is a sound art bursary scheme that invited primary schools in South Cumbria to explore the creative use of sound through a pupil-led project for Years 5 and 6.

In conjunction with Creative Futures Cumbria and Full of Noises Festival, SAM offered three schools a small bursary and the opportunity to work intensively with a sonic artist to realise their Audio Explorers project in July 2011. An Audio Explorers project could be anything; from a sound sculpture for the school playground to a new school bell or a performance using home-made sonic instruments! The project aimed to engage children and teachers in thinking about sound as a creative medium, as well as enabling them to undertake a self-led project from beginning to end that was entirely devised by the children themselves.

Children making field recordings at Hawkshead Primary School

In May and June five primary schools had a half day workshop led by a local sound artist to develop the idea for a project. From these ideas three schools were selected to receive the Audio Explorers bursary. These schools were:

Hawkshead Esthwaite Primary School, Hawkshead, with Shaun Blezard

The school's Year 5 class and teacher worked with artist Shaun Blezard on 'The Big Bash Band' project. After exploring different kinds of graphic scoresm, the class used stop-motion animation to create their own moving graphic piece. They then used sounds created by found objects from around their school to perform the piece, leading to a presentation to their schoolmates and parents at the end of the project.

You can see their final graphic score here:

The Big Bash Band of Hawkshead.

Throughout the project the class kept a blog, documenting all their activities. You can see the blog of work created by the class here

Black Combe Junior School, Millom, with Glenn Boulter

Artist Glenn Boulter worked with a mixed Year 5 & 6 class and their teacher to create the 'Super Sonic Sound Store' - an audio library for the school's new sensory room. Over the five weeks of the project the class became field recordists, capturing sounds from their local environment, and performed with these sounds using iPads and mixing software back at their school!

The class play with making and playing back their recordings

The collection of recordings will remain in the school as a resource for teachers and children that is added to over time.

Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Barrow-in-Furness, with John Hall

Year 5 and artist John Hall worked with a storyteller and writer to explore the mysterious history of their Victorian school building. After devising their own ghost stories, each group recorded their eerie tales and created gruesome foley effects to accompany them. These stories became 'The Sacred Hear Ghost Tour' - an installation and mp3 audio tour of spooky goings-on around the school!

John returned to Sacred Heart in September 2011 to complete the project and invited parents and friends to take the tour themselves.Recording in the church next door to capture that spooky echo!

The three schools and their artists worked together through July 2011 to realise their Audio Explorers projects and the work they created was showcased to the public on Saturday 6th August at the Full of Noises festival in Barrow Park, Barrow-in-Furness.

In addition to enabling each school to buy audio recording equipment and work with an artist, the Audio Explorers bursary scheme also left each class teacher with a new set of skills for exploring, which could be passed on to their colleagues. Several of the artists also returned to the schools in the following academic year to continue working with teachers and children in other classes.

Produced by

Sound and Music

In collaboration with


Full of Noises


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