Norwich pupils record coughs... and make music

Slamming doors, roaring engines and throaty coughs may not seem like music.

But 30 youngsters from the George White Junior School have helped make these city sounds into a concert performance – with a little help from the University of East Anglia.

Pupils from the primary school on Silver Road began to record the sounds of Norwich yesterday for a 40-minute soundscape, which will be used as a prelude to the opening performance of this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival (NNF11).

Organised by Tricia Hall from NNF11, the workshop saw two sound and technology students from the Univeristy of East Anglia showing the young people how to use directional microphones to collect sound. Year six children spent the day recreating a variety of noises they experienced outside or in school from closing doors and footsteps, to sipping coffee and singing songs.

The UEA students then manipulated the recordings on a computer to show how changing the tempo and pitch could make the sounds completely different.

The final soundscape, entitled Sounds of the City, will be played on Friday May 6 before Andy Sheppard's Saxophone Massive at Millenium Plain, Norwich.

Johnny Laws, a sound and technology degree student at the University of East Anglia, said: 'These soundscapes, which they came up with themselves, have been recorded so we can conduct them later on.

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'Some of the sounds are going to be organic and some of the sounds are going to be manipulated to create the final piece. The children seemed like they were really engaging with the work we were doing.'

Four schools were asked to take part in the project including White Woman Lane, St Williams Primary, Mileham Primary and George White Junior.

Mae Dent, 11, said her favourite part of the day was watching a Honda advert on a video projector, which showed how people recreated the sounds of a car by using their mouths and their bodies.

Meanwhile, Ethan Harvey, 11, said he enjoyed using the microphone because it changed his voice and made it sound silly.

The workshop gave the youngsters the chance to learn how to use sound recording technology, as well as developing their teamwork skills.

Louise Dennison, project officer with Norfolk and Norwich Festival's Creative Learning Department, said: 'This was a fantastic opportunity for Norfolk pupils to have their work featured in the festival.'

Is your school doing something special for the festival? Contact reporter Ben Woods on 01603 772439 or email