Issue 99: Pitched Percussion Samba

This year I will be teaching two samba classes with around children 40 in each group. So what!

So the kits supplied to the schools will only have 32 instruments, and will need to be supplemented, so that everyone gets to play something.

Furthermore, these will be classes where the children are a mix of year 5 and 6, and this is the only formal music lesson they have during the week, which means that unless I do something different, they will not touch any pitched percussion for their last two years in primary school.

I have persuaded the two schools to supplement their music cupboards with two sets of boomwhackers, and am now exercising all my creative skills in adding pitched percussion to the sambas. Why boomwhackers? Well, they are attractive, cheap, easy to play, funky, and not too loud. With two sets, the children can play them by tapping two boom whackers against each other. Eventually we might play simple melodic lines along with the rest of the samba group. The sound will probably be lost against the tamborims and agogo bells, but will make a really good contrast break in the middle of the performance.

I’ll write up what we do as we go along. For the first lesson, I plan to hand them out as follows; two players each with C and E, two more with A and C’, another two with F and D, and the last pair with G and B. So the players with C/E will tap their C with their E on the first beat, then the next two will tap their A with C’ on the second, and so on. later on we can liven up the rhythms, and maybe add some kind of movement between the players to create more complex chords.

That should add an extra dimension, not to say an element of chaos to the proceedings!

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