Issue 27: Update on the first short samba course

Way back in September, I wrote an outline of a six-week samba “taster” course. Several months passed while the school sorted out all the administration around acquiring the samba kit, so the first course didn’t happen until this term.

I am really pleased to say that it has been a great success. A group of twenty year 6 children had a forty minute lesson on Friday afternoons, and by the end of the six weeks, they had performed two simple samba pieces to the rest of the juniors.

In the light of this experience, I am going to amend the original plans, as in some areas they were too simple, and in other areas they were too complicated. What is crystal clear is that the foundation pulse work, particularly the “counting to eight” activity, is crucial to the success of the course, in improving the children’s ability to internalise the pulse and maintain a steady tempo.

The other “spin-off” from the course is in the area of behaviour and social skills. The class music teacher that I was working with commented on this after the first couple of lessons. In any group, you will have children who are short-fused and quick to react aggressively, who don’t pay attention or listen to instructions, who are easily distracted or prone to silly behaviour. These children all showed markedly improved behaviour in the samba lessons, staying focused and showing a positive attitude.

You will also have children who have successfully stayed in the background, either because they are naturally quiet, or because they maybe lack confidence. These children also came to the fore, showing team-working skills, keeping their instrument section on track, and taking on more of a leadership role either within their group, or leading the who samba band.

I’ll revisit this topic again soon with the revised plans to incorporate what I have learned from teaching so far.

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