Nature’s Song

‘Shall we work with some children to create a new folk song about Artscaping?’ 

This was a question that arrived in our inbox earlier this year and we jumped at the opportunity, excited to hear how the experiences and ideas could be shared in this way.

On 1 March 2024, the first day of meteorological spring, the children at Wilburton C of E Primary School joined forces with Sean Cooney and David Eagle of the Young’uns - a well-known folk trio from the Northeast and twice winners of the BBC Folk Awards - to write it together. We had met this wonderful school back in 2022 when they joined the Branching Out research programme and then worked again with them in 2023 to explore the world beneath our feet with colleagues from the Crop Science Centre. David and Sean had met them through their earlier work with the Historic England Heritage Schools Programme.

Wilburton children artscaping

The Year 6 Hedgehogs class got stuck in to start off the song-writing process, coming up with lots of words to describe how nature felt and looked to them, and what it made them think of:

Prickly, spiky, serene, vividly green, tranquil and picturesque, peaceful, slope and steep, dog poo on the paths, how beautiful it used to be, the impact we’re having, be still, things are hidden, bugs and insects, the world beneath our feet, fresh, mycelium – fungi, home of creatures, a broken nut with the three baby ladybirds inside, wet and swampy, bumpy or smooth, dew on the grass looks like crystals, a labyrinth of ecosystems, trees – seeds, sapling, magnificent tree, one cell…

The children talked about the outside area where they spent time learning in their school grounds, calling it ‘willowy, lush through the seasons’. They built on each other’s suggestions to come up with the tune for the song and its chorus and then passed the creative process on to the other classes in the school, each having time and space to add their ideas and suggestions particularly of a guardian tree who they regularly greet in their lessons.

School musicians added accompaniments with their cellos and violins and then everyone came together to perform the song later that afternoon to an audience of parents.  It was an uplifting and inspiring day for all.

Children from the school are joining Sean and musician Emily Portman to perform this song at the Imaginarium Takeover at King’s College. You can listen here to David singing it for us – we hope you enjoy it. 

Sean Cooney in school
Sean Cooney and David Eagle in school

Nature’s Song
Step outside, come with me 
Nature’s song will set you free
Breathe, stand still, it’s time to be
Smell, feel, hear, see

Step away from your screen
Into a space that’s so serene 
All your problems leave behind
Pause, unwind and free your mind

Smell the pollen, flowers  and leaves
Feel the cool refreshing breeze
Hear the rustling in the trees
See those furry acorn thieves

In the spring the rain is bound
Then the summer sun shines down
The autumn leaves fall on the ground
Then winter’s ice and snow is found

The secrets of the world below 
Mycelium maze helps plants to grow 
Bugs and beetles, earthworms eat 
And ancient fossils ‘neath our feet

Drawing trees and starry skies 
With wax and ink, natural dyes 
To our guardian tree a song we’ll sing 
Respecting nature is our thing

[Chorus x 2]

The Young'uns have been funded by the Historic England Heritage Schools programme.