Saturday, 3 September 2011

Round-up; Workshops, Classes and all that jazz!

Having arrived back from India, I'd hoped by now to have already done a quick run-through of a few things that had been on my mind over the last couple of weeks at Ghatkopar. My excuses for not having done so until now vary and range quite widely; from the fact that monsters under my bed had abducted the muse-stone I place upon my forehead while semi-supine so as to permit a free train of thought [not true] to the fact that my phone, upon which I'd been taking notes as I went along, managed to have itself pickpocketed at Kurla station (unfortunately true) about a week or so before leaving.

Now that my immediate reflections have somewhat frothed and spawned into some type of exotic life form, I thought it would be useful both for those generously supporting the good work of WAM and for those looking to participate in the WAM project next year to have yet another point of view of what was going on - particularly in Mumbai - this year.

It has struck me that it would be a good idea to explicitly outline a few examples of workshops that were run in Mumbai both by myself and Hannah, which I hope will give a clear picture of what the kids (and teachers) attending the workshops were letting themselves in for!

Example Workshop #1

As at St. Xavier's, 2-day (2x 2hr) workshop: c.100 participants aged 8-16

Day One

Warm-up 'Cowboy activity' Participants are introduced to a number of differing exclamations, with actions, led by one teacher. Once familiarised with the actions and calls, 4-6 participants picked to lead the call-response in front of the other students.
Warm-up 'Sani Bonani' Call and response type song with simple melody and rhythmic ostinato.
Lead-up 'Making Sounds' Introducing the idea of association of sounds and music, as well as musical gestures and extra-musical concepts. For example, Reich's 'Different Trains' and its vivid train-like string gesture.
Activity 'Making Sounds' Using the voice and parts of the body to make different sounds based on three main themes; forest, city and sea. Activity expanded by splitting into smaller groups and then having a 'performance' by each group of each of the soundscapes, followed by a larger performance using all participants.

Day Two

Warm-up 'Cowboy activity' Participants not requiring any prompts this time!
ActivitySinging Ala da' Lona: Algerian song, expanded in class by splitting into groups and having each group clapping a unique ostinato while singing.
ActivitySinging London's Burning. Traditional, learnt and sung in a two, three and (eventually!) four-part round.
ActivitySinging 'Babboon Song': Ideal for a class full of boys! Participants split into three groups where each learns a 4-bar phrase: 'The Baboon', 'The Vulture' and 'The Yak'. Each phrase interlocks melodically and rhythmically so is ideal for demonstrating ensemble singing.


Example Workshop #2

As in Muktangan schools 45 min, c. 30 participants aged 7-10

Warm-up'Name game' Participants are asked to tap their knees and click their fingers, as tap-tap-click-click, saying their own name in turn during the clicks. Teachers invited to join in.
Warm-upGlissandos Visualised by throwing a ball up and down.
Warm-upVarious call-response annoying squeaking animal noises (the kids seemed to like it)
Warm-up'Cowboy activity' As above (see St. Xavier's)
Warm-up'Sani Bonani' As above (see St. Xavier's)
  • Younger groups: The Pirate Song & I Like the Flowers (for example)
  • Middle groups: Ala da' Lona & I Like the Flowers
  • Older groups: Ala da' Lona & (on one occasion) a song in Gaelic about porridge.

Viola/violin also brought in for some workshops, encouraging some discussion about instruments.

All in all, we had devised a good workshop template from the start, meaning that sections could be added and expanded or dropped and revised as depending on the size of the group and the age of the participants. It was especially helpful to have a secure blueprint when, having already delivered seven 45-minute workshops in a day in one case, the thought of getting through another workshop would have been a little disconcerting without such an aid.

So there we go. No magic, no voodoo, just a little planning, preparation and luck!

Day-to-day work at Ghatkopar was a little different in the last 2-3 weeks as my focus shifted towards leaving the school with something useful before making my way home, particularly in relation to their upcoming Junior and Senior Productions. For varying reasons it seemed to be quite difficult to get a grasp of just what it was exactly they wanted, largely compounded by the fact that the musical numbers to be included in the production seemed to change on a daily basis. An understanding of the fact that creating, for example, backing tracks (thank goodness I'd armed myself with my MIDI I/O and Logic before departing) would take time was not hugely apparent and so I felt a little guilty in the last couple of days at having to put my foot down and say that doing yet another new number would simply not be possible in the time remaining.

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