Written by Rosie Bergonzi
I really enjoyed the process of writing the song ‘Just Be Yourself’. The brief was to ‘celebrate’ so I felt sure this song would work well. It’s both a song and an activity, as it can be personalised to each child. It can encourage young people to focus on what they excel in, what makes them special and fantastic. Building this kind of resilience early is exciting! Growing up it felt like differences were often pointed at, or laughed at, so being able to identify them as positives and brilliant parts of us feel so amazing.
I began song writing for early years with the project London Rhymes. We started writing songs for toddlers, but in sessions with their parents and carers. Previously, as a percussionist, I’d never thought of myself as a songwriter but encouraging parents to find their voices I started finding mine. Singing is such a loaded thing, so many adults tell me they can’t carry a tune or don’t have a musical bone in their body… but my favourite thing is showing people what they can create and write, often defying their own expectations. And how brilliant an ensemble or choir can sound! Working as a workshop leader is so much about helping people to create things they didn’t think they could. We now have a bank of resources and songs written by parents which I’m proud to have written on!
The song is aimed at children, but I feel it can also be useful for grown ups. We don’t often get to celebrate our achievements as adults, so I wanted to create a song that everyone can join in with. It can be so much easier to list other people’s achievements, and social media feels like a big, long brag from everyone else, making our own traits feel even less impressive. But sometimes, just sitting down and listing a few things about you that make other people smile can be a brilliant exercise. One verse can be about your child, and one about you. Once completed the song can be returned to, and sung at moments where it’s needed to cheer everyone up!
The messaging of being yourself felt so important to me. I didn’t always see people who reflected me growing up, so the idea of being your own role model felt like an empowering idea. I wanted to make a tune that felt like it was full of potential, so I used lots of leaps to imagine something soaring. The concept of community is such an essential one. I wanted the young people to think about how they’re built and empowered by the people around them.
Creating a resource in 2021 means making a video. Before the lockdown I didn’t even know how to point a camera, let alone using audio equipment or edit anything. I now have so much more respect for how challenging that job is! But I started to really enjoy the experience of making videos and sharing them online. I have my own YouTube channel sharing lessons and tutorials, as well as my own songs and covers. I felt so shy the first time I shared anything online, but slowly I grew more confident, and less prone to dropping the camera! I think it feels like a real silver lining of the pandemic, becoming more self-sufficient and being able to create my own resources. I now really look forward to sharing things, whether it’s a tutorial on rhythms or a cover of a Queen song! I think it makes the book more accessible too, instead of needing a CD or needing to read music this means anyone can learn the songs, and see how they’re led.
I loved receiving the book, it’s always exciting to see my name in print and to see it as part of such a beautiful resource was amazing. My mum, a primary school teacher, had a few books like this knocking around the house and I love the idea of this becoming well used and well loved, dog eared and maybe slightly chewed by a toddler! I feel really proud that my song, encouraging people to celebrate themselves, is part of it.
If you would like to access Music Makers activity cards, which contains the song that Rosie has contributed, you can find more information here.