School Shows/ Workshops

Specialist shows: The Victorians/The First World War…

Harp and a monkey have a series of historically-themed shows that are ideal for school performances and as workshops for music and history festivals. At the moment we are offering two shows:

The Victorians: A new performance that looks at the folk, music hall, parlour songs and street music of the era – and what it can tell us about the people and their many foibles. The songs cover a myriad of themes from the deportation of convicts to jilted lovers and those opposed to the temperance movement. A truly uplifting and thought-provoking show.

The First World War: One of our most popular shows, the performances are suitable for all ages and challenge many of the stereotypes of the conflict. Decidedly upbeat, The Great War: New Songs & Stories is an exciting performance that includes both original songs and re-workings of traditional songs, field recordings of people who lived through the war and the poignant, tragic and humorous anecdotes of a bona-fide First World War expert. It has been supported by Arts  Council England and The Western Front Association.

Credentials: We are in a unique position to deliver such shows as our singer, Martin Purdy, is a historian and Doctor of Philosophy who acted as a researcher and advisor for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine for many years, wrote a pocket-book guide for them in 2008 (republished in 2013) and is the co-author of such critically acclaimed books as Doing Our Bit and The Gallipoli Oak. In high demand as a speaker who expertly blends the poignant and the informative with the humorous and entertaining, Martin regularly appears in the national media and on BBC radio documentaries. He is as comfortable dealing with Key Stage 2 children as academics.

Tell us more:  The shows last for around 60 minutes, but can also be broken up into shorter workshops for schools and festivals. If being programmed for children, it works best for those of Key Stage 2 age and above and is curriculum friendly. The workshops can be tailored to specific themes – for example, at the national event to mark the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme in July 2016, Harp and a Monkey did 25-minute school workshops on the role of music in war. Some venues have also incorporated additional features: a talk at the start by band singer, raconteur and expert Martin Purdy or an invitation for people to bring in memorabilia to display before the shows or to ask Martin to help provide answers about.



Lynda Robinson, St Thomas Primary School: “I’ve never seen the children so quiet as when they were listening to your brilliant songs!”

Geraldine Woodward, St Mary’s Primary School: “The highlight of our WW1 Hawkshaw at War project launch was the performance by Harp and a Monkey. They sang songs with appropriate language and content for primary-aged pupils. Martin introduced each song providing the context and background information clearly to the children. The whole audience was mesmerized by the range of instruments played and the lyrics. I would recommend Harp and a Monkey without reservation. My children still enjoy listening to the songs and reminiscing about when ‘the real band’ came to play for us.”

Keith Stockman, St Edith Hall, Kent: “Not to put too fine a point on it, Harp and a Monkey were bloody marvellous. After an interesting and thought-provoking talk about WW1 by Martin Purdy, the trio played a wonderful set of poignant songs based on the conflict, followed by a lighter set of their own material. With their unusual instrument line-up and electro-backing tracks it was a unique sound – as one satisfied spectator put it, ‘different but really good different’. I can only agree and definitely want to have them back again in the future.”

The Artworks, Halifax: “A brilliant event enjoyed by all, offering a very different perspective on the war and delivered in a unique way through music as well as a talk.”

arts council western front association

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