I caught just the last five minutes of a vibrant samba performance by a local Junior School in the town centre this afternoon as I nipped in for last minute shopping before closing time.
About thirty children and a couple of adults (I recognised the music coordinator/teacher leading the ensemble) were crammed into the bandstand, and giving it all they were worth, on a mix of samba instruments.
YES! I thought! This is what it is all about! The children working together, listening, following, watching, ready and alert for the breaks, playing with concentration, gusto and enjoyment.
Next year I shall be teaching samba again in three wider opportunities schools. Two of the classes will have forty children in them. Unfortunately the wider opportunities samba kits only provide for 32, and funding is tight where purchasing instruments is concerned. However, I have had a brainwave, and persuaded the schools to each buy two sets of boomwhackers. I reckon that these will make a great addition to the band, being cheap, easy to play, colourful and fun.
Buying two sets means that each child in the section can have two, to whack together, rather than whacking them on the floor or on themselves (or illicitly whacking the child next to them). I shall now be devising extra parts for the sambas that I usually teach to make use of this extra timbre, and incorporate pitch, and maybe harmony.
I’ll post my plans, and what happens in the classes as we go along next year.