One of my classes arrives in the school hall piece-meal from several different places. Consequently it is very difficult to plan a tidy start to the lesson.
Yesterday, as they shambled in through the various doors, I struck upon a little activity which filled the hiatus brilliantly. I had been rummaging in the music trolley, desperate for inspiration, and pulled out a tambourine and a rather loud ganza (cylindrical metal samba shaker). I was aimlessly shaking them both (no-one could hear me overthe general hubbub), but then….
I walked into the centre of the circle of chairs, shaking the ganza on each of four beats, and the tambourine on just the first beat, not saying anything. As I hoped, the children fell silent, waiting to see what this might portend. One girl, who I knew had a fairly good sense of rhythm and reasonable coordination caught my eye, so I encouraged her to come forward and have a go. It’s harder than it looks, but after a few false starts, she managed it. I asked her to choose a sensible looking boy to have a go, and so it went on round the class. In the end everyone wanted a try.
Some were clearly playing on beat 1, others on beat 4. One child opted to play in triple time; 1 2 3 1 2 3, paying both instruments on 3!
The children who were not playing the instruments practices on their knees.
It was a useful exercise in pulse, rhythm, and coordination – all necessary skills for djembe players.