I learned this activity at a training day earlier this week, and have been trying it out yesterday – three times! With year 1 (just 5 of them, as reception had already gone home), a year 3 and 4 class, and a year 5 and 6 class.
It is deceptively simple – you play a walking beat on a drum (or, in my case, a woodblock) and the idea is that the class walks round in time to your beat, stopping when you stop, starting when you start. You’d be surprised; we found it easy on the training day, but we are all grown-up professional musicians. Even making allowance for the natural exuberance of small children released to move around in a large space, it took a while for them to settle into the beat.
I introduced the activity while the children were sitting in a circle. I played a steady beat and walked round in time, stopping and starting and asking the children what I was doing.
Of course, these are crotchet beats, a musical fact I will be introducing later.
Then, you introduce “jogging” – quavers – (which is NOT the same as running, Liam and Percival). This can (and briefly, did, with the older children!) quickly degenerate into crazy running round unless you are ready for this. I found lashings of praise for the children doing really neat jogging, especially if they were “pack-leaders” did the trick.
Once it was going well, I let the children take a turn at leading, setting them up for success by announcing that I was looking for really good followers to be the next leader.
Finally I dished out claves, wood blocks and rhythm sticks to everyone, and asked them to play in time with me, watching and following exactly what I did (“watch out, who is a really good follower?”)
One more class to try it with – a year 1 and 2 class this afternoon.
It is a surprisingly tiring activity – mentally – as you need to concentrate if you want to get it right.
On the training day there were further ideas for developing this very simple, but profound, activity which I’ll post in due course.