Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Further Adventures with Buckets- The Drummers' Circle

We were sitting in an open circle today, bashing away on our buckets and having a merry old time when it occurred to me that we were playing out an activity that has been with us for many thousands of years. So all of a sudden, my music lesson took a sideways turn into a bit of basic anthropology/ sociology.

My makeshift drummers' circle awaits its next class.

We stopped playing and I shared my thought with the kids. They got it. I asked them why our ancient ancestors might have participated in drumming circles.
I was pretty impressed with the list of possible reasons they came up with in just a couple of minutes.

1) As a part of a ritual
2) For entertainment/fun
3) As a group bonding exercise
4) To ward off threats such as wild animals or the supernatural
5) To shard the warmth of the central fire
6) Because there was nothing else to do at night

Not a bad list, I thought.

We went on to talk about what the instruments might have looked like then, before I appointed a chief of the group and gave him a woodblock to lead us all in some call and response drumming. After a few chiefs had been deposed , (mainly for their lousy sense of rhythm), we wound up the exercise and moved on. But what a great way to start the lesson. It had us all energised for the remainder of the lesson and while I'm not sure if we scared off any wolves or evil spirits, I'd like to think we all bonded a bit.

My makeshift drummers circle only happened this week when I finally realised that my classroom was just far too dominated by tables. Tables are fine when you need to do some writing but since that accounts for about 10 minutes of my 10 week programme, I just couldn't justify the space they were taking up or the fact that for most of the time, there was a physical barrier between me and my students.

It was a bit scary re-organising the room so that the main feature was an open circle. It's a mind-shift for the kids too, but it does make transitions between parts of the lesson easier and for that reason alone, I think I'll stick with it for a while. I'll let you know how it goes.

Update: 04.09.14

It goes a little something like this:

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