Today I went to Castle Vale to start planning the ‘Down Your Way’ project with Dave (artistic director), Ian, Nicola (our coordinator) and Chris. It was really nice to be in a space where we could share and trial exercises for our workshops, this was the first time I had completed such an exercise with an arts organisation in a professional (as opposed to training) setting- it is so vital, I had so much fun and learned loads!
I hadn’t been to Castle Vale for years and was amazed at the regeneration that had transformed it from a run down, sometimes intimidating, extensive tower block estate to a friendly, positive, community oriented area. There were lots of green spaces, colourful buildings, most tower blocks knocked down! It was such an impressive transformation!
This project shall help provide a documentary of this remarkable journey, old and young shall come together- converse about the changes and turn some of the sound bites into music. I am working with a primary school and a local sheltered housing tower block for elderly residents.
I brought to the table a couple of exercises enabling Key Stage 2 (primary school students) to confidently turn there sound bites into rhythms. I received some crucial feedback!
The exercises intend to make young people aware of pulse and rhythm and then rhythm in songs and words. In the end, after a fair bout of trial and error and lots of friendly advice, this format appears to be quite suitable;
We are sat in a circle and:
- we use our feet for the pulse and instruments for rhythms
- we work in a time signature of 4/4 and 2 bar phrases
- the first bar is for a set rhythm and the second silent
- the second bar gradually becomes an improvisational space
- we use the space to make up our own rhythm
- easy peasy
- we singing a catchy song as a group and then in a round
- we then dissect it into separate rhythmical phrases
- each group sings a phrase and the workshop leader orchestrates entry/exits
You can do this with any nursery rhyme. Each group can sing a short phrase-with the same pitch/melodic phrasing but the entry can be on whatever beat of the bar you choose.
Model what I want:
- use a random phrase like “Digbeth has no trees’
- get pulse going
- model how it can be turned into a rhythm and drill
- then ask group when ready to contribute other ways in which the phrase can be said rhythmically
- split group into smaller ones
- they chose their favourite phrases
- using the same technique create rhythms out of the phrases
Sharing time and lots of praise 😉
Here are our ugly mugs: