Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Howdenshire Forward Learning Lab Project

To work with young people and local sport was selected as a lead priority by Howdenshire Forward. Paul Robinson, Chairman of Howdenshire Forward’s Leisure, Recreation and Culture programme says, “This area was prioritised by the organisation, as it is in tune with what people are telling us, and issues concerning young people have been highlighted in many surveys and Parish Plans conducted in Gilberdyke, Newport, and other Howdenshire villages”.
Paul Continues, “We must consult the young people of our communities and the schools are best placed to facilitate this. We must determine what the young people want, what motivates them, what doesn't etc. Any survey questions or research needs to be well thought through to get under the skin of what they are really thinking and presented to them in a format that is fun. The learning Lab project Soundscape project fitted neatly into what Howdenshire Forward is trying to achieve”.

The Learning Lab Soundscape project carried out at Howden School aimed to provide ten students from Year 10 with the technical and creative skills with which to build a soundscape of their town.

Howden, and more particularly the students’ perception of Howden, formed the starting point for the soundscape itself. It should be emphasised that the 5 – 10 minute soundscape is a creative work of sound art. The focus of the piece is the sounds themselves; it was dependant on choice of clips made by the students and how they were fragmented, repeated or layered. The exercise was concerned with dynamics, ambience, rhythm, tension and release, rather than conveying a particular meaning or specific statement about the town. The project included introducing the students to mini disc field recording, along with exposure to ideas about public and private spaces, and a listening walk, which encouraged a heightened awareness of everyday sounds that our brain usually relegates to the background. Field recording provided the bulk of recorded material for the soundscape, in addition to this, two student groups made use of the mini disk recorders after school, in order to capture more of the sounds that they experience in Howden during evening hours, as well as in their home environment.

Finally the students selected and combined the sounds recorded; by the end of the project the students had created a visual plan of their soundscape.

With regard to how the project will contribute to Howdenshire Forward initiatives, it is hoped to use recorded material, which is left in a less edited format to present alongside the more abstract soundscape. This material includes interviews of the students giving their impressions of Howden and some of their suggestions about how the town environment and facilities might be improved.

“I was struck by the students’ engagement with the soundscape project, as well as by their overwhelmingly positive view of their town and community. The students have contributed intelligent and well articulated views, and with a wide range of interests within the group - from drama and music to sport and outdoor activities – these students would make an essential contribution to any debate about the future of Howden. Hopefully, the soundscape project will be the start of a longer process of consultation with the young people of the town”.

The Learning Lab is a programme of Integreat Yorkshire, part funded by the Academy for Sustainable Communities, to work alongside Howden as part of Yorkshire Forwards Renaissance Programme.

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