Put on headphones, immerse yourself in a story where you become the protagonist, and under the direction of a finely crafted script, friendly narrators, brilliant actors, evocative music and sound design, let your imagination take you on a journey during which you experience real emotions, learn things about yourself that maybe you didn’t know before, learn how to treat others, gain an understanding of the world around you, past, present and future.
Such an experience is guaranteed if you’re fortunate enough to attend a school that subscribes to the award winning educational resource developed and pioneered by Now>Press>Play. For a number of years I’ve had the joy of working with the Now>Press>Play team as one of their few composer sound designers, where my job is to create intricate sound worlds and musical scores for a growing library of impressive audio experiences. Now>Press>Play experiences are designed exclusively for EFYS ages up to Key Stage 2, and the quality and reach of their work is helping them to become one of the leading companies in the EdTech sector.
I’ve long been a passionate advocate of audio drama in all its various forms, from audiobooks to radio plays and art installations. So I jumped at the opportunity to work with a company that produces immersive audio resources that engage children in the curriculum through emotion, imagination and movement. This work also compliments and resonates with my work as a composer and sound designer for theatre, and as someone for whom being involved in the process of ‘telling stories’ is what gives me the most joy as an artist.
My role as composer sound designer starts when I receive the first audio edit of a new experience, together with the script. In this form the dialogue and narration has all been recorded under the direction of head of sound Tim Bamber, with a few place essential place-holder sounds and effects, enough to have enabled the script to be piloted in a workshop. The first task upon receipt of the project is to build the sound design. Take a quick glance across the extensive Now>Press>Play library and you will see that the range of topics is enormous, from Under The Sea to Space, Ancient Rome to Victorian Britain, Natural Disasters to Particle Physics. So the diversity of styles required from a sound design perspective is both creatively and technically challenging, but also tremendous fun. Sourcing and more often than not recording the foley can be a lengthy process but it’s crucial to get this stage right as the sound design drives the overall quality of the experience, and ultimately the learning outcome.
Careful attention also has to be paid to the pacing of the narration and dialogue and at this stage of the design I will also spend considerable time fine tuning the timing of these elements. Once the sound design has been completed it’s time to start composing the music, which needs to both drive and underscore the narrative at key places throughout the experience. Whilst EYFS experiences typically have a duration of about 15-20 minutes, and necessarily require fewer layers of sound and music, Key Stage 2 experiences can last up to 30 minutes and are often richly designed and underscored. Because Now>Press>Play experiences cover such a wide breadth of topics the scope for musical styles and underscore is similarly large, which from a scoring perspective is an additional bonus.
I’ve posted below a nice selection of Now>Press>Play trailers for the experiences I’ve had the pleasure of designing, scoring and mixing.
Early Years Foundation Stage Experiences
When Mummy pig sends you and your siblings out into the world, you build your own houses. But it’s not long before the Big Bad Wolf turns up and threatens to blow your house down!
When you and your Grandpa make a gingerbread man, things do not go as planned. The gingerbread man outruns everyone he meets, but will he be able to outwit the fox?
You are baby bear and you live with mummy bear and daddy bear. When your porridge is too hot to eat, you go for a walk but Goldilocks is also out for a walk and she is hungry…
Key Stage 1 Experiences
When King Cole’s crown is stolen by the Goblin King, it’s up to you to get it back. But how will you break into the Goblin King’s castle, and will you ever achieve your dream of becoming a knight?
It's Summer, your Mum's flowers are wilting and you're too hot to water them! There's a strange clock on the wall that doesn't tell the time, but instead tells what season it is. Surely if you could change the hand to Winter, then it wouldn't be so hot? But be careful what you wish for!
When the crops in your village fail, it’s up to you to work out where is best to plant the last remaining bulbs and seeds. Will you pick the cave, the desert or the fields? Will you save your village from disaster?
Your mum is the pilot of the Animal Plane. When the plane crashes, some of the animals escape and are captured by a local circus. It’s up to you to get the animals back!
When a new boy Hassan joins your class, you make friends with him. But your best friend Safia is not happy about this and a trip to the Natural History Museum tests all of your friendships…
Key Stage 2 Experiences
You have just started your training as a member of the X-force, an organisation that uses forces for the good of humanity. During a trip to the moon you come across an unidentified box. It contains a dangerous force – it’s your task to get it back to X-force HQ.
On a school trip to Pompeii, you fall down a well and go back in time to 79AD. Ash is falling from the sky and the people don’t realise Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt. Will you be able to save them? And will you ever get back to the present?
When your best friend Jayden is mean to you at school, you share a secret of his with a ‘friend’ you meet online. Things quickly spiral out of control, and you find yourself being blackmailed by a stranger. Will Jayden’s secret be posted online, and will he ever forgive you?'
Moving to Secondary School is a daunting prospect for any Year 6 child. Our Transition workshop gives your class a positive, first-hand experience of change and a belief in their abilities to overcome the unknown. It’s your first day at Greenfields School, and you’ve accidentally worn the summer uniform. As the day unfolds, how will you cope when nothing seems to be the same as it was at Primary School?