Issue 11: Outline Plans for a Short Samba Course

I shall soon start teaching a 6-week taster course in Samba.  This school has a long-standing practice of offering small groups of year 6 children an opportunity for extra music on Friday afternoons.  Up to now, I have been teaching a 5-week introduction to keyboard course at this time, but the keyboards have now reached the end of their useful life and so it was time to review how we would use this time in future.  Samba seemed a really good idea!

Here is what I plan to do:

Week 1

Introduction to the various instruments; what they are called, how they are played.  Divide the children into 4 groups, and give each group an opportunity to play each instrument (tamborims, ganzas, agogo bells, surdos).  Teach the same basic rhythm to all the children; “Samba, samba, we love to samba”.  Focus on playing together, starting together, stopping together, listening to each other, watching signals from leader. Signal for stop is closed fist, followed by whistle signal 1,  2,  1,2,3,4, STOP (everyone plays a final sound rather than shouting the word “STOP”.

Week 2

Revise the names of the instruments, revise how to play the instruments.  Rotate the four groups round the instruments in the course of the lesson.  Revise the basic rhythm learned last week; this time have some groups playing a steady pulse while others play the rhythm.  Revise starting together, stopping together; try stopping and starting different sections by giving stop hand signal and silently counting them out as for general stop.

Week 3

Each group will stay on the same instrument for the whole lesson, moving to a new instrument in subsequent weeks.

Teach each instrument group their own rhythm, incorporating the name of the instrument in the rhythm in order to make it easier to learn.

All the rhythms will be learned vocally together as a whole class.  Then, the particular instrument group for that rhythm will play, supported by the rest of the class saying the rhythm softly.  That way everyone will learn all the different rhythms ready for when they move to a new instrument.

Surdos (words in brackets are “ghost strokes”, ie, silent rests)

1         and 2        and 3         and 4          and
Maracao (large) (Surdo) Drum (Surdo) Drum
Reposta (medium) Surdo (Drum) Surdo (Drum)
Cortador (small) (Surdo) Drum-ming (Surdo) Drum-ming-on-the


Agogo bells

1              and 2             and 3            and 4          and
Low High Low                   High- Go-       go



1              and 2            and 3           and 4         and
Play                         to- ge-        ther              Tam-bor- -im



1              and 2            and 3           and 4         and
Up            Down Up          Down Up         Down Sha-ky-sha-ky


Week 4

Groups rotate to next instrument; revise rhythms for each group.

Work on introduction from leader, which is a call and response, played three times, followed  by a “count-in” played by everyone;

(leader on repenique) “we-can play, we-can play”  (everyone play) “SAM—BA DRUMS”

(everyone play) 1,  2,  1 2 3 4 and go straight into their individual rhythms

Work on stopping and starting all together, and in sections.  Add dynamics to the introduction.

Week 5

Groups rotate to next instrument.  Lesson follows plan for week 4, adding breaks;

SILENT BREAK; signal is four fingers held up, followed by whistle signal.  Break is four beats silence and then straight in.

FOUR-SQUARE BREAK: signal is make a square shape with hands, followed by whistle signal.  Break is four beats from each section in turn ending with ganzas and straight in.

Week 6

Groups rotate to next instrument.  Lesson follows plan for week 5, adding grand finale

FINAL BREAK; signal is closed fist; followed by whistle; Break is the same as introduction, ending with final beat.

I’ll let you know how I got on after I have finished the first group!

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