Teaching a new generation of oral historians

20 June 2023

Wren Music have been working with schoolchildren in Sidmouth as part of a project which will see a collection of new songs performed at the Sidmouth Folk Week in August.

Our oral historian, Marilyn Tucker, spent two sessions with Year 3 and Year 4 children at Sidmouth Primary School, teaching them how to interview four volunteers from Sidmouth Toy and Model Museum and its owner, Ian Gregory.

They then used their new interviewing skills to draw out stories about the toys the museum team played with when they were children, and about some of the toys on display at the museum.

The stories collected by the schoolchildren will be used to create around six new songs which will be performed at Sidmouth Folk Week.

The project, Marvellous Toys, is led by Little Seeds Music and has funding from the national lottery.

Marilyn said: “Oral history is an integral part of the work that we do, gathering stories and using them to write songs. With their teacher Mr Weir, we worked with the children so they could learn how to ask open questions that get the stories from people.

“They asked some great questions, like ‘what was the worst toy you ever had?’ They were interested in everything from Star Wars toys and Corgi cars to model trains and puppets. At some time in the future, these stories will be history.” added Marilyn.

Little Seeds Music will be using the audio recordings of the stories to write the songs which will be performed at the folk week, which runs from Friday 4 to Friday 11 August 2023.