day, first time visit. Typically involves:
9:15 Encounter with
a jazz musician (me), with assembly of all pupils and teachers.
Begins with introduction to my double bass. (Rarely fails to entertain
when finding out what the pupils think it is.....)
I also perform a piece, and then involve everyone in a practical demonstration
of the piece's rhythmic and improvisational elements.
(9:45 or so, in primary schools, we may have had the best of KS1's concentration
span at this point, and so they return to their classrooms.)
Extend the initial materials to create an improvised 'school song', generally
a lot of fun and laughter involved. Sometimes brave (foolish?) pupils
come out the front and attempt my part!
After mid-morning break, continue to develop ideas from the first session
with one KS2 (or 3) class.
After lunch, work with another KS2 (or 3) class, but using a different
activity. This way the Music Co-ordinator has the benefit of experiencing
a variety of materials/ideas.
Alternatives: In some schools they prefer me to work with the school's
band/orchestra instead of a mixed ability year group.
Also, a half-day visit is sometimes possible.
visits/Residencies. A selection of examples that might be used:
An ambitious music
and movement activity, linking up a variety of skills and resulting in
a performable item. Includes:
Integrated ‘spidery’ song (& simple songwriting class)
Usually done with one Key Stage 2/3 class, over a series of visits. Resulting
performance given at end of final session, to an audience of peers/parents
able to come in.
Be advised that a good amount of floor space needed, and it includes the
laying down of a masking tape ‘spider’s web’ design (which
forms basis of piece), usually in region of 4 to 6 metres in diameter.
Is what it says it
is! I bring a stock of low budget (therefore non-precious) sticks, deployed
upon the ubiquitous plastic stacking chairs. Can be informal call &
response fun session, and subsequently a way into learning to manipulate
rhythmic notation, or to learn detailed components of Brazilian, Cuban
or African rhythms.
Over a steady 8-beat
pulse, students move from improvising bizarre ensemble passages (which
owe as much to Buster Keaton as they do to Stravinsky or Zappa....), on
into improvised and/or composed small group sections. Elements routinely
covered with this activity include:
Listening-while-playing, rhythmic stability and coherence, texture, ‘feel’,
space. In fact, anything and everything relevant to creating musical pieces.
Relevant activities, (complimenting any and all materials already listed
Tutti 4/4 rhythmic canon, then transposes onto instruments.
Starts out as a bit of musical fun and mullarky, soon developing into
compositional and improvisational framework. This can be approached atonally,
or just as easily used as a way into dealing with the specifics of Functional
Harmony, particularly chord-scale relationships.
Exploring Functional Harmony (chords & related scales/modes)
On a practical, playing basis, students learn to identify and use the
chordal possibilities that extend from a variety of scales, typically
the Major and the Harmonic Minor. In some situations this can progress
to include the Melodic Minor and the Harmonic Major.
A natural extension of the previous item, and once again approached on
instruments/voices, basic four-note chords are explored as a means to
accessing the fundamental ‘bluesy’ sound that underpins so much
of Blues, Jazz, Rock, Soul and a vast swathe of Pop music.
Level & beyond only (usually...)
Initially vocal, we improvise chordal textures which in turn can be the
backdrop for bravura solo improvisation.. Also very effective as a vehicle
for spontaneous ‘two-part inventions’ when used in duet form.
Progresses onto instruments, remaining ‘free’ harmonically,
or following nominated keys/tonalities. Thence proceeds into any number
of compositional and improvisational contexts.