A few times a year I'm commissioned by a school to write a school song. Over the years I think I've written about 70 of these songs. I was reflecting on this last week as I wrote three school songs: for Mary Immaculate in Bossley Park (Sydney), St Gregory's in Queanbeyan and St Monica's in Evatt (ACT). My challenge is to capture the spirit of the school in a 2-4 minute song!
I look at what I do as "reading the school". I come in and read the history, look at school documents, survey the staff, parents and priests and finally talk to the students before trying to wrap that all together in a song.
St Gregory's in Queanbeyan is so steeped in history that this became the main theme, along with the "River of Faith" that unites this faith community- the Queanbeyan River. Mary Immaculate had spent last year renewing their vision and mission so there was a wealth of material to draw on. And St Monica's is such a culturally visual school that I literally read their walls to help write the song.
Sometimes, when a school is close to the studio, I invite the children to come and be a part of the recording process. Yesterday I was joined by two teachers and seven students from Mary Immaculate who did a great job in bringing their song to life!