Edinburgh International Festival is partnering with Leith Academy in a three-year residency designed to enrich the life of the school. On the curriculum this week – beatboxing.
Amy Firth, Learning & Engagement Projects Officer, tells us all about it...
This week we welcomed Conrad and Nate from Battersea Arts Centre and Josie, a Leith-based singer songwriter to Leith Academy to run beatboxing classes for all year groups. By playing games and jamming, pupils quickly picked up the foundation beat for beatboxing, and created and conducted a beatboxing orchestra in their classroom.
Using the looping station, the classes composed their own original tracks, performing some stand-out numbers such as Leftover Calzone and Peppa Pig. I’m sure they’ll be releasing their EP soon enough!
It was great feeling so welcome to the school. The staff were so supportive, and made us feel at ease. I felt like I could be myself and get the best from the students and session. Having the International Festival peeps getting involved, plus teachers, helped to create a great environment. The students were amazing and a lot had never done anything like beatboxing before. I feel like we are a small part of this community now.Conrad Murray, BAC Beatbox Academy
Tucked away in the Music Department we wondered how many students hadn’t got the chance to beatbox, so we decided to take the kit down to the cafeteria for a pop up performance. While setting up, a few curious students lingered in the corners. Before we knew it, hundreds of kids were swarming round, joining in to rap, beatbox, sing and breakdance. The energy was incredible and I believe it will go down as a historic moment for Leith Academy. One student walked past me exclaiming “What kind of school do I go?” and I was later told that it was “blowing up on Snapchat”.
Music teacher Dave McManus told me that it was brilliant to see so many pupils doing stuff they already love, but in a school environment, and inspiring others to learn new skills.
A couple of students kept appearing in the Music Department all week, joining in whenever they could. Student James told me about how the atmosphere in the school was amazing and that he’ll always remember the performance in the canteen.
It was amazing seeing pupils express themselves who don’t typically engage.Dave McManus, Music Teacher at Leith Academy
Pupils have been invited to continue their beatbox education at a Summer School in July that will lead to curtain-raiser performances at the Traverse Theatre as part of the BAC Beatbox Academy’s show Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster.
The beatboxing workshops and summer school are being delivered though a partnership between the International Festival, Battersea Arts Centre and the Traverse Theatre. The initiative is part of Edinburgh International Festival's ongoing residency aimed at providing cultural opportunities for the Leith Academy and its community, as well as equipping students with personal, social and vocational skills.