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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, February 09, 2003
    Class of Langley, 1975
     
    I don't think it made the fortune of Hans Louis Fenger, nor his fame. But almost thirty years on, The Langley Schools Music Project has become a latterday musical gem. It's feted as underground - I bought it at Rough Trade - and 'outsider' music. But all it boils down to is a bunch of children singing Beach Boys, Beatles and Bowie in a school gym. Fenger, a music teacher responsible for a number of schools in rural British Columbia, dreamed up the idea of bringing the children together to perform contemporary songs using simple instrumentation, and recorded the results.

    It's attractive, simple, beautifully naive. Their choice of songs was perhaps inspired, becuase today we'd call all of them 'modern classics', or perhaps they just reflect the truth of Monica Lynch's observation, reproduced in the cd booklet: "If you wanna know if you've written a hit, play it for kids."

    Fascinating listening to this today, after last night's big church event, our 'Guides and Co Talent Show'. The girls and their friends had dreamed up the idea, spent months planning it, and weeks practicing their 'turns', mostly musical, pop, songs from the shows, various types of dance. It was the first of its kind in their experience, and they went for it with such enthusiasm that, I as MC, had to keep the show moving through no less than thirty acts.

    But that too, was attractive, simple, beautifully naive. We talk so much about involving the children in grown-up activities, and it is so often mere lip service or condescension. Great to let them leave us adults dependent on them for a change, as they led off and did things their way. Scary, too, for us on the interface between them and the audience: it had its moments, but it worked. A memorable occasion, and at ten, eleven, fourteen years old, memories go deep.

    In his cd notes Fenger says , "It would be great to see those kids again. I'll bet they remember every lyric of every song." It could become a sort of musical Friends Reunited for the class of Langley, 1975.