There were 3 practical hands on sessions which gave ideas to take back to the classroom to try.
Session 1 : "From painting to sound to dance."
This was led by the brilliant Caroline Segollo. Starting with abstract sounds we explored moving isolated body parts. We then looked at Kandinsky and transferred those ideas to think of sounds from the strong lines and shapes. Using black strips to create grids Caroline showed how it was possible to provoke the children into using 3D spaces imaginatively and thoughtfully. She suggested some interesting and innovative music to use with the children from Penderecki and Steve Reich
Session 2 : Drama techniques
This was led by the talented Jo Fife. We looked at many different techniques that involved whole classes and used drama to elicit good quality language work from the children. One of the key things I learnt from this session was how little "teacher talk/instruction" is needed. Jo showed how it was possible to start the drama before the kids were even through the classroom door and how to talk "in role" rather than as teacher. By making the lesson very pacy and fast moving children are pushed further. Another key learning point for me was the forum theatre ideas Jo showed us. One of Jo's top tip was to use darkness in the classroom with a torch. Something I will be trying at St Teresa's as we do have blackout blinds in the classroom.
Session 3 : Body Percussion workshop.
Flavio was an excellent teacher and managed to transform a motley bunch of teachers into a percussion ensemble in a remarkably short space of time. Using a metronome on his iphone he soon had us clapping and stamping in time. He made us jump to check we had really internalised the beat. Most of us found it quite tricky but Flavio broke the learning down into small steps with plenty of time for practise and reinforcement before he moved us on. It was a really good experience being put in the position of learner and was a real reminder for me of how anxious children can feel when we push them out of their comfort zone.
Session 4 : Young Song Leaders
Soo Bishop has achieved absolutely amazing results with her big scale musical projects based around "Music is for Life" projects. This year she is embarking on an ambitious project to train 20 keystage 2 children from 75% of all Merton Schools to act as young song leaders. With her excellent training these pupils will be well placed to lead singing in their own schools and to support staff and pupils alike in developing an even stronger singing culture in the borough.
Schools are now forming small clusters to start the training which will begin in November 2012. Sarah from Merton Park School has developed an application form which schools can use to get children to apply for the role.
Finally we discussed the actual structure of the ArtsBeat2012 festival. There are a number of exciting events involving schools and the wider community planned. It looks incredibly exciting and I will outline some of them in a separate post next week.
I came away from the day really inspired and keen to try out some of the techniques I'd been shown in the classroom. I was really struck by how much talent and expertise we have within Merton Music Foundation and the experienced music/drama teachers in the borough. We really need to make sure we exploit this to the full as this kind of creative passion can really help kids unlock their own enthusiasms and creativity which can otherwise remain dormant.
Thank you MMF!