Every year Unbeatable Energy visit William Farr Secondary School to deliver African drumming workshops to support their Cultural Diversity Day. This year was particularly special. The reason? Spontaneity - there was lots of it! Drumming is brilliant for creating 'music in the moment'. When we facilitate a drumming group, it is important to have a pre-session plan, but we also need to be listening to those special things which participants bring to a rhythm event. Its all about using what a group gives you - too much planning can be a hindrance. We try to maintain a balance - have your teaching material ready to get a group started, but also have an open mind!
Frequently a group can have some special chemistry which opens the way for new creative ideas. Get it right and before you know what's hit you, the session has turned a corner and things are starting to really rock! It doesn't always have to be associated with a group having a high level of musical skill. The 'in the moment' stuff can come from anywhere. Examples?
A pupil copies the way you speak and says 'okay!' right in the space between some beats. Great! Lets all do that and whats more lets jump up in the air at the same time as shouting 'okay!'.
A four year old makes a scratchy sound on the drum instead of patting the skin. How about 'scratchy sound drum rhythms?
A teenage girl starts playing around and showing off with her friends. She starts doing a Saturday Night Fever style movement with her arm. Perfect! Lets turn this into a dance move and rhythm routine!
The drumming groups at William Farr really brought this 'in the moment' creative flow to the fore! The sessions frequently started with a set arrangement of rhythms and finished with a full on improvised drum circle made from all the wonderful ideas brought to the session by the pupils.