Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another Workshop

Do you guys all remember CREATE? That is the organization that I helped out with that developmentally disabled kids’ workshop for a couple of months ago. Some of CREATE’s funding is from an organization trying to promote volunteerism amongst 16-25 year olds, and since I am both an eager volunteer and fall within that age range I am now helping out with a project in the Canary Wharf area with two primary schools.

This Wednesday I rushed from our morning session at Bonner School for the Globetown project down to Bygrove Primary School for East Meets West. East Meets West is a project that takes two primary schools (Bygrove and Holy Family Catholic Primary School) and divides their 2nd and 3rd years into two groups so that half of the Holy Family kids trek over to Bygrove to work on music and half of the Bygrove kids trek over to Holy Family to work on the dance half of the project. There are three musicians leading the Bygrove half of the kids. They are Lucy Forde: a flautist who is actually on our GSMD tutor list but whom I met for the first time at Bygrove; Alison (another flautist); Tony (trumpet); and Jon (percussion). My flatmate Meredith is another one of the music volunteers along with a cellist named (I think) Kate who is studying at another school doing a program similar to the one I am on.

Kate played her cello and had the kids try to figure out what instrument it was. My favorite part of that interaction was when the group had figured out that it was similar to violin and one of the kids shot up his hand and said, in a totally confident ‘of course I am correct’ sort of way “It’s a trombone!”

Lucy had prepared a melody and rhythmic accompaniment to it that is going to be the basis of the kids' piece. She started the process by having them imagine a land that no one had ever been to, that hadn’t been discovered yet and asked them what it would look like, like what temperature would it be? They started off a little shakily saying it would be really warm, freezing, hot, very cold and any other variation of an extreme temperature that they could think of. Eventually Lucy was able to get them to move away from temperature (not even weather, just the temperature) so that now the mystery land is pink and white, has lollypops growing on trees, and all the animals are people. Once we had an idea of what the land looked like Lucy suggested that we should think about what it sounded like, at which point the musician leaders played the melody and accompaniment that Lucy had written.

We then divided the kids into three groups and gave everyone hand percussion so that the kids could get involved both in playing and in helping to figure out what the world was going to sound like. One group ended up making a rhythmic pattern based on the names of the kids in the circle, our group ended up with a lot of metal and shaker instruments and based most of our stuff on a rain stick, I’m not sure what process the third group used but it involved wooden xylophones.

We were just finishing up the first session getting the kids to write words about the mysterious land (I think it ended up being named ‘Dream World’ ) to set to the melody Lucy had written when one of the kids suddenly started vomiting all over the floor. We then had to figure out how to distract the rest of the seven year olds so that they would keep writing the words and let the poor sick kid alone. It was sort of like waving a birdie and saying “look kids, look at that!” while physically blocking their view of the little boy who continued to vomit as he was being led away. Aren’t kids fun?

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