Little Radio

Keep an eye on this page for weekly updates on the project: See how the songs are progressing

Iain Ballamy (saxophone) & Stian Carstensen (accordion) are Little Radio. During September they have been visiting Fremington to delve into the musical memories of locals young and old, collecting favourite songs with personal significance.

They’ll then rework, customise and polish them and bring them back to the village for a special performance in November (click here for tickets).

As part of this project, over the Autumn months professional musician and composer Steve Sowden will continue on this quest, delivering workshops within Fremington Homes and Fremington Community Primary School. The live performance in November will bring together these groups to perform and share their own creations alongside Little Radio. 

Wednesday 9th September

Today we've been working with Fremington Homes and Fremington Primary as part of our new music project with sounduk.

The children at Fremington Primary had a great time with Iain and Stian. There was lots of music, singing, questions and fun, and an excellent rendition of 'Teddy Bear's Picnic'!

Over at Fremington Homes, the musical favourites with the residents were '(Dancing) cheek to cheek', 'Consider yourself', 'Daisy daisy', and 'Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner'.

Wednesday 16th September

We've had another great day of workshops. Iain and Stian have handed the workshops over to musician and composter Steve Sowden (Iain and Stian will be back for the final performance). Here are some of the songs Fremington Homes and Fremington Primary have been working on, they're very catchy!…

Here's a section of Steve's report on the day:

"A friendly, fruitful start to the project at Fremington Lodge with ten lovely participants, it was received well and most related afterwards that they had enjoyed it. The session was also attended by Claire Ayres from Beaford arts and Karen Simpson the events organiser at Fremington Lodge. We started with group singing - You Are My Sunshine, and all of the participants joined in with this.

We sang the call and response song Tongo and afterwards I explained that it is a rowing song to help longboat rowers avoid collisions on foggy days.

I then sang "We Are Going to be Friends" by the White Stripes" and said to the group that I was also going to play it to the Year 6 group in the afternoon. Thereafter, I shared that I think it's a universal, simple and nostalgic song (about going back to school after the summer and nurturing a very sweet friendship) which seems to work for both children (as it takes place in their world) and adults (who might respond with nostalgia for a simpler and more innocent time).

I decided to use radio as a provocation to start the first song writing exercise. This provoked a few responses and a good provocation from Ella; that turning the radio on and turning the FM knob to find the right frequency should be the first lyric. The song is currently one long verse and a chorus repeated.

It was quite an energetic song, so by way of contrast, we sang My Bonnie together afterwards.

Then onto Fremington School for the afternoon. 

We went out into one of the playgrounds to play a name-game with clapping and to sing the call and response song, once in unison and a few times through as a round. I asked how many songwriters there were in the group and about seven children raised their hands, so we had a chat about that.

Once back inside I played the White Stripes song and most children responded positively - we had a chat thereafter about why they think I chose that song and some answered that it was because the song is about school. I talked about why I had chosen it; because it was about school but also nostalgic. I then asked about their personal responses to the Little Radio performance (they really, really enjoyed it) about the instruments and songs the band had played.

This led into a discussion about the making of new songs.

I asked the group for a subject for our first song and someone inevitably shouted video games. We worked on the writing for about 20 minutes, widening the subject matter to include homework, daydreaming and the journey home from school. I really like the final line of the chorus : "this could be our lives" It seems quite pure and honest!

 Both lovely groups and I am really looking forward to the rest of the project."




Wednesday 23rd September

Fremington Lodge

This week there were four participants who I hadn't met: Roy, Ena, Ethie and Eileen.

I introduced and sang "Driving Home", written and sung by the Fremington Primary Year 6's during the first session, explaining that I would sing one of their songs to the younger group.

Roy shouted: "He can't get a proper job."

We sang through Tongo as a call/response warm-up and then played through "Something to Please Everybody". I talked about liking the pastoral imagery and about song arrangement. We wrote Verse 2 as

Nice contributions from Winnie who was keen to be involved

Verse 1

Something to Please Everybody

There's something special about the hills

Green fields, flowers, sky and rabbits

Lanes of escape

Church spires and schools

A place for peaceful dreams


Something to please everybody x4

Verse 2

There's something happy about the hills

You don't have to take the pills

Enjoy the scene - forget your ills

A place for people to talk

Chorus 2

Something to cure everybody x4

(Improvised instrumental)

At the end of the session, we played the other song from last week: "You've got me now babe."

It seemed very quiet as I was gathering my things to go...

On the way out, I encountered Ivy at the front door who had been quiet at both sessions, she said that she had thoroughly enjoyed the activity and thanked me.

Fremington Community Primary School

We started in the school hall which is a welcome space.

Once ready, after a movement warm-up, we did the clapping game - playing a rhythm together, saying our names in clockwise fashion, in time with the rhythm. I will keep repeating this activity, with a view to increasing the general volume and confidence of voice.

We sang Tongo, but this time, utilised the large space to move around in. I encouraged group members to maintain eye contact when they passed each other and to sing the song directly to passers-by. This was a good exercise that the group performed gamely and with focus.

During the two hour break between sessions, I had decided to run with the theme of "place" in the afternoon. I went to Fremington Quay and visited the free museum and Station Masters look-out above the café. I wrote a new song about this Fremington place to play to the children that afternoon.

I told the group a story about my day so far, which included "Something to Please Everybody" from the Lodge group and the new song, which I did not name and asked the children to tell me what place it was.

They all listened to the words carefully, which was great to sense, and most knew it was about.

Fremington Park Song

Verse 1

When the day starts craving

When the day starts craving in

And night starts raving

And everyone starts singing "Bills"

Then they start eating chocolate

Bobby, Billy and Jeff

Dizzy on the roundabout

Chicken nugget sandwich on the zip line


When we eat sherbert lemon

Or drink Ribena

I think I'm going to blow up

I've had too much sugar

...really looking forward to the next session after a two week break to see where it all goes next.

All in all, across both groups, more a refinement and unpacking of last week's work than a real leap.

Wednesday 7th October

Fremington Lodge

This was a smaller group than the previous week, a total of nine women, plus staff members Karen and

Gillian. The hour was almost entirely focused on writing one song through informal discussion and sporadic playing/singing and it was good-humoured, relaxed and fun. I feel like the group members and I got to know each other much better.

I spoke briefly about my current work and past jobs and we sang You Are My Sunshine to warm up.

Karen and Gillian did a fantastic job of helping to facilitate this session, encouraging and eliciting

Through talking about each group member's past, we took a lot of detours and had a lot of chat. This led

to a really inclusive song-writing exercise and the following song, which we recorded (verse 1 and chorus

- verse 2 still not finished) before re-playing Something to Please Everybody, at the request of Heather.

Fremington Primary

The session was attended by 37 children and it was surprising and unusual and fun.

Instead of the clapping game, we went around the group just saying our names clearly, the rule being: to match the volume of the previous speaker.

I taught them a song called Tony Chestnut, which has some strenuous actions and got us warmed up. We then did an exercise involving finding a group member roughly opposite us in the circle and maintaining eye contact while singing and shouting.

I wrote the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) on my whiteboard and we had a group vote on

which subject to use to write a very simple pop song about in the quickest time possible.  

Wednesday 4th November

It was a fantastic day at our final Little Radio workshop on Wednesday.

Fremington Homes residents were in fine creative form, writing one last song to end the process.

Fremington Primary had the exciting opportunity of using the big recording microphone to record all their compilations for (hopefully) an album!

It was also a chance to rehearse their newly composed songs ready for the curtain raiser alongside Little Radio's Iain and Stian on Saturday 14th November.

Beaford Arts
Fremington Primary School
Beaford Arts
Fremington Homes
Beaford Arts
Fremington Primary School
Beaford Arts
Fremington Homes
Beaford Arts
Fremington Primary School
Beaford Arts
Fremington Homes
Beaford Arts
Beaford Arts
Beaford Arts