Down Your Way Planning

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

Second exercise:

  • 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

Cognitive task:

  • 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:

1 thought on “Down Your Way Planning

  1. Yemisi Blake says:

    Hey Bobbie,

    Sounds like a great project. Keep us posted.


    p.s. ‘A full bodied red wine’ nice.

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