Strings Attached Medley

Strings Attached Medley

This is the latest promo video for Strings Attached, the wedding/function band I play cello for. Here’s the full list of featured songs, if you’re interested – all great tunes for weddings and parties, that show off our very eclectic range!

  • One Day Like This by Elbow
  • Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
  • Rather Be by Clean Bandit
  • Moondance by Van Morrison
  • Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
  • I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts

The Media Conference for Children (or Why Kids Need Role Models in the Media)

The Media Conference for Children (or Why Kids Need Role Models in the Media)

I told a friend that I was going to the Children’s Media Conference, and he jokingly asked whether I was too old to be going to a media conference for children. But it turns out he wasn’t far off, because one of the striking things about the conference was that children really were at the centre of it. It wasn’t just about how we can make money out of children, or how we can give them what their parents think they need – there was a genuine focus on what kids want from us as content creators, and how we can serve those wants and needs more effectively. And so in that sense, it really was for children. Because despite what we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking, kids are really rather media savvy, and they have mature ideas about what they want from us.

So what is it that they want? One thing the Children’s Media Conference (CMC) really flagged up for me was the need for strong and diverse role models in children’s media. Kids want to relate to the hero – or better yet, when it comes to interactive, be the hero. In Malorie Blackman’s inspirational keynote, she said that despite reading a huge amount of books as a child and young adult, she didn’t come across a single one with a black character in until she was 21. As such, she felt like she didn’t belong, not just to the individual worlds of those books but to the world of arts and literature itself. In other words, she was affected creatively by not seeing herself reflected in the media she was consuming. Obviously Malorie has done alright for herself in spite of that, but there must be thousands of kids out there whose creativity has been stunted because they’re poorly represented in the media. Perhaps that’s why platforms like YouTube have enjoyed such ferocious growth among young people recently: a kid who is into gaming, for example, won’t find any gaming role models on terrestrial TV but they’ll find plenty on YouTube. Whether ‘role models’ is an accurate way to describe guys like PewDiePie is up for debate…

Empowering kids to be creative is still the best thing children’s media producers can do for their audience. If we give them permission to make stuff, to remix content, to interact with actors and presenters – that’s when we will see a generation that doesn’t just consume media and be satisfied with that, but instead has a real appetite for creative expression.

The Children's Media Conference
There's lots more info about CMC on their website, including blogs and recordings from the sessions I've mentioned.

World Cup 2014 wall chart

World Cup 2014 wall chart

This has been a nice little side project over the last couple of weeks; a simple but colourful poster for CBBC fans to print out and follow the action at Brazil 2014. It was great fun to put together, and it’s lovely to know that kids all over the country (and probably some grown-ups) will be able to enjoy it.

The players at the bottom of the poster came from BBC Sport’s World Cup marketing trail. With no budget for images of real players, these were great to have. That was the main challenge I faced on this; trying to make it look amazing without a lot of time or money available.

Hugely grateful to prettywolfie and felipe_grilo on the free image site Pixabay for the photos of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer. Nice one guys!

Wall chart for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
You can print your own copy over on the CBBC website, either as one page or split into four.

Shaun’s Game Academy

Shaun’s Game Academy

I heard about this yesterday – it’s a fantastic initiative run by Aardman, a nationwide competition calling for kids to design and build their own games. The beauty of it is that the complicated coding part is made much simpler through ‘Scratch’, a very easy (relatively!) programming platform.

There’s more info in this Guardian article, and the competition itself is based here. The competition site includes some fun, easy-to-follow tutorials – I’d never used Scratch before, but after half an hour of fiddling I was able to make this…:

Click the green flag to start, then press space to keep Shaun afloat!

PS it doesn’t work on mobile devices, sorry.

A screenshot of the Shaun's Game Academy website
Scratch uses a drag-and-drop system, so it doesn't involve typing code out and all the headaches that can create (think typos!)