SIS Musicians visit El Cañuelo

11 years ago, I started a music trip to the beautiful Spanish village of El Cañuelo, in the hills of Malaga. Exclusive to musicians, with the sole purpose of music-making our students have the opportunity to take a trip away from all distractions, disconnect and just be surrounded by inspiration for 3 days. Throughout these 3 days students partake in several workshops, led by our highly trained and professional music staff and students from previous years. They then write and perform their original songs in an evening concert under the stars. 

Over the years this trip has become somewhat of a legacy, often mentioned fondly in the yearbook by our graduates. This blog will give you a flavour of this year’s adventures!


Kerry Wickersham, Head of Music

Student musician reflection

As a student new to music, I didn’t know what to expect before embarking on the annual Music songwriting trip to El Cañuelo, a mountainside town where the music students engage in a variety of music workshops, before attempting to create an original song based on the knowledge they gained. The six workshops focused on different aspects of music creation, namely; creating melodies, writing lyrics, riffing, rhythm & groove, harmony and digital audio workstations. Each of these components worked in tandem when creating our songs. There was also a heavy focus on collaboration, with the students working on each other’s songs, and providing critical feedback. As for the logistics, the students stayed in many houses, where we cooked, cleaned and organized ourselves. This self-dependency and trust enabled the full creativity of our songs. With nothing in the way, we could focus solely on our making our songs as good as possible, without outside distractions. The result was palpable with our group creating 19 original songs that we would go on to perform in front of the class. All in all, this fantastic trip allowed the various year groups to work in conjunction with one another, in a friendly environment that encouraged musical creativity and experimentation. We look forward to developing the songs and finally recording them.

Report by Cassius J M4

Student Quotes

“Probably the most amazing school trip I’ve ever been on. Highly recommended”

“It’s as if you were transported to your own little songwriting planet with nothing orbiting you but lyrics, melodies and memories”

“A truly amazing atmosphere full of like minded people who love music. The best opportunity to get inspired, gain some experience and build up your confidence.”

Teacher reflections

An Inspiring Experience

It was a pleasure to attend this years El Cañuelo music trip, and to help mentor an extraordinary group of young musicians and songwriters.  Breathtaking can describe not only El Cañuelo itself but the talent and self expression that it had the ability to draw from our incredible students. It was truly inspiring. 

Workshops included songwriting, harmonies, rhythm & groove, guitar melody, accompaniment and melody structures, all delivered by SIS music teachers. The students were amazing and took part enthusiastically in each course.

On the Sunday the students had the opportunity to use the beautiful space that El Canuelo offers to begin to compose their own song(s) using the tools they had taken away from the workshops. The result was a number of incredibly well written and performance ready songs – some very cleverly composed melodies with lyrics that would bring a tear to the eye.

An experience that I feel both students and teachers alike shall remember for a very long time.

Anne-Marie Pettit, Voice, Piano, Guitar Teacher

Craig Richards, Guitar Teacher

Moving Performances

As part of the SIS Music Department, I was honoured to be invited to participate and teach a workshop at El Cañuelo. The level of enthusiasm, devotion and talent on display was staggering. When a young student can move people to tears with a beautiful guitar melody in conjunction with deep, heartfelt lyrics inspired by a difficult personal life experience that we all can relate to on a personal level, your jaw literally drops and you tip your hat as that’s incredibly hard to do as a songwriter.

It makes you, as a teacher feel really proud that just perhaps, you might have played a tiny part in helping to nurture a natural talent by bringing out the best in their, as yet, untapped amazing songwriting ability. And that was only one example of many performances from Sunday night… wow!!

It takes incredible courage to stand up and perform an original piece in front of an audience, big or small. But our students dug deep and it paid off in dividends and helped them to realise that it’s a musician’s right of passage to overcome the self-doubt and stage nerves. The clapping along, applause, and huge cheers at the finale of their songs brought beaming smiles to everyone’s faces, artiste and audience. Future success as professional musicians and perhaps chart topping hit songwriters is on the horizon if they continue to work hard and continue to create incredible original music in the different genres they choose. Our students really did us proud!!

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