Group: Ophelia Neville, Rosie Mountjoy, Sarah, Walker, Chloe Hepburn
Age of workshop: Primary School Children
At first we were thinking of doing a workshop for dementia patients. However, we knew this would be a very tricky subject matter as there are so many complex things to take into consideration.
We decided to aim for primary school kids as we could make it fun, wacky, imaginative and colourful. However, the workshop could be adapted to suit other ages as well, perhaps senior school children with an adapted story, introducing rhythm and more complex instruments?
What was out initial aim/idea?
- To teach kids that you can make music from anything you can find – you don’t need to have any prior music knowledge or experience
- Using some kind of homemade instrument (plastic bottles) – everyone makes their own instruments and then create a percussive piece
First meeting with Simon/development of idea:
I made sure I wrote down lots of notes from this meeting, to help as we moved forward.
Some of the questions raised:
- What is the purpose? End goal? Objective?
- What is the piece of music going to be? A percussive piece? Or could it be different elements of a band? What instruments make up a band?
- Health and safety – are the kids going to be making the instruments themselves? Will that take up too much time? What equipment will we need? Supervision? Are there certain materials off limits?
- Is our workshop portable?
- Are we going to use the format of having a conductor? If so, the workshop needs to be conductible…
The main thing I took away from our meeting with Simon was that we needed a journey and a concept for our workshop.
I suggested to our group that we could get the participants to write a story. We could write the beginning and the end so we could still hold some control. We would stand in a circle, going around, getting each participant to come up with a random word which contributed to the story. Then there would be different groups of instruments that they would use to play along to the story. So the concept of the workshop would be to create a soundtrack to a story using homemade instruments.
The next bit was the hardest bit. Refining this story idea into a successful workshop format…
- Would the children make the instruments? No. We needed to save as much time as possible. If we had longer for our workshop, this is something we could perhaps think about in the future.
- What instruments were there going to be? Fun, interesting, unique. We used websites such as Pinterest to look for inspiration with ideas already in mind of what kinds of sounds we wanted.
- Were we going to repeat each instrument to make it fair? Or have 21 unique instruments (a lot of work, unnecessary)? Repetition of instruments – this meant the kids could pair up or feel part of a group so could help each other out if they were struggling with their instruments / more inclusive.
- If we get the kids to write the story, will there be enough time?
- Could we write the story but get them to contribute a few words? Still keeping them involved?
- How do we keep their attention if they’re kids? Bright colours, fun words, interesting sounds and instruments
- We don’t want the focus to be on the story over the music, we want the focus first and foremost to be on the music
- How are we going to give the instruments out to prevent chaos and everyone messing around with them? Don’t give them to their hands – ask them to stand away from them? leave them on the floor?
Main points sorted from this discussion/tweaking/question time:
- We will write the story to save time
- We will have four groups of instruments: wind, percussive, textured/scrapers, strings
- Within each instrument group, there will be two different kinds of instruments:
Wind: French horn, kazoo
String: Baby banjo, shoebox string
Percussive: Rattle drum, tambourine
Texture/Shaker: Castanets, Plastic bottle scrapers
- We will apply four different colours to each instrument group, to act as a score and signify when the kids/different instrument groups will play in the story – there will be one colour to signify playing all at once
- The story will be written out on word by white on white card and stuck to the wall before the kids come in. There will be certain words linked to the sound of the different instruments, i.e. bang, tap, fireworks, squeak etc. These words will have a colour pre-applied to them, apart from four of them. The four spare words will have a colour applied to them after discussion with the kids about what sound instrument would go well at that moment in the story.
- We will call the workshop: Found Sound Track
Here are some photos of the discussion, the rough plan sheet of what the order of the workshop was going to be, and the first draft of the story with matching colours.
I would have liked to attached a photo of out homemade instruments, however, WordPress is being temperamental and won’t let me.
Changes we made between our worksheets/plan draft 1 and our final assessed workshop:
- To assign instruments, we were going to hand coloured slips to the kids as they walked into the room which they would then put on the floor in front of them and we could hand out the instruments depending on what colour slip they had put down. This was also to make them feel like part of the instrument deciding process was more fair. But, to save time, upon arrival, we lined the kids (our peers) up and walked them into the room to stand around a pre-lay out semi-circle of the instruments.
This worked very well and meant we didn’t eat into the rest of our workshop time. Sarah, the team member who lined the kids up, gave them instructions not to touch the instruments when they saw them and to leave them alone.
- We decided to factor in a bit of time for the kids to pick up their instruments and play them and encouraged them to see if there were different ways of playing them or playing them at different volumes. In doing this exercise, it meant that we didn’t have everyone losing patience and starting to pick up the instruments and play around with them, disrupting everyone else as we explained the next part of the workshop. It built suspense because after playing them once, the kids wanted to play them again.
- We also decided to split the description of what the next step was, into two. Initially we were going to describe what the colours were for at the same time as discussing with the kids which sounds (from the instruments) would go well with the blank words in the story. However, we thought to keep it very simple and easy to understand, we would not mention the role of the colours until after applying the sounds to the blank words.
To save time also, we changed the amount of blank words there were for the kids to discuss their sounds with us. Rather than each instrument group having 3 words to put their sound to, they only had one. This saved us a huge amount of time and faffing. Even with only four words in total to discuss with the kids, it was hard to stick the words up onto the correct colours quickly. Also, one of our group members stuck three of the four words onto the wrong colours which had been discussed and therefore Rosie had to go back and fiddle with them when we should have been on the next step.
In future I think we could come up with a more succinct way of physically sticking the words to the colours – maybe using a less delicate kind of coloured paper or card, or slowing down the discussion process (as we did have some spare time) so we could properly focus on sticking one word at a time and doing it correctly.
An area that we could also improve on in the future, was the way we got the kids playing along to the story. I started by shouting the story out and clapping on each coloured word to help them know when to come in as well as the colours. This worked well, although it was quite hard without a set rhythm. This is something we could also incorporate in future developments, however, the lose, random element did bring a bit of surprise and a fun quality to the story. During this activity, with more time, we could have worked out for a better way to include our whole team in this process (in my opinion), rather than three of the team stood at the side with nothing to do. I tried to get them involved after a couple of times through the story, but it would have been nice for people to have more of a speaking role etc.
Here is a copy of what I wrote on everyone’s Cue cards, just to remind us what order we were going in and notes on what to say if we forgot:
Queue everyone up outside
Explain that they need to follow her in and once in the room stand in a semi-circle in front of each instrument but don’t touch the instrument
Hey everyone, welcome to our Found Sound Track workshop! Today we’ll be giggling around the way you might think about instruments and making music using instruments made of found household objects!
But before we start, let us introduce ourselves. I’m phe……
Now, when I say go, you’re going to have 30 seconds to play your instrument and work out what noise it makes & experiment with it. We’ll be coming around to help you if you need it! And at the end of the 30 seconds, we want complete silence. GO!
PLAY COUNTDOWN MUSIC (add a fun timed element to make it a challenge)
Now I need your help to work out what instrument you thing sounds like this word… Discuss which instruments apply to each word.
Now you’ll see that each of your instrument groups (wind, percussive, strings and texture) are a certain colour. You can see on the wall, we have written a story, and there are certain words which match the colours of your instrument groups.
What we’re going to do is make a piece of music to go along to the story by playing when we see our colour! E.g. so when the wind see (whatever colour they are) they play as a group, same applies to the percussive instruments etc.
You’ll notice that there’s a spare colour. Whenever this colour appears, we want you to play all at once as loudly as possible! Apart from at the end when we want you to play as quietly as possible.
I’m going to read through the story for them slowly first and I’m going to clap when a coloured word appears, to signify a group to play. We’ll see how we do the first time!
FINISH/SUM UP (Rosie)
If time, ask what they enjoyed the most? Or what is the one thing they’re going to take away from this workshop today!
Say thank you, encourage them all…
What concepts and skills learnt throughout the module did we utilise or use as inspiration for our workshop?
The practical workshop sessions we took part in throughout the module were a real help. For example, in reflecting on the beatbox workshop, I was able to remember to positive and negative aspects and try and apply that to when we did our own workshop. For example, trying to be engaging and passionate, excited for our idea and communicating that with the participants.
Also learning from the negative things I took away, ‘expect the unexpected’. We wanted to go into our workshop with a lot of bases covered, for example, as our workshop utilised colours, what if one of our participants was colour blind? We made sure they were in groups with more than one person with the same instrument, so they could copy each other.
I also remember the first trial workshop that Bart & Dan did in the class, teaching us how to use MakeyMakey, with a drawing exercise. Although this was great fun, two things I remembered from this workshop, were to give clear instructions, and not to contradict one another. So this influenced how we planned out our workshop, ordered our instructions and looked at the finer details of things. Another point I took from this experience and tried to apply to our workshop, was how to respond to participants questions. There was one point when I asked Bart a question, and rather than telling me the answer and me being able to do it myself, he took over and did to for me, so then I didn’t have anything left to do. It really resonated with me that we needed to remember that our participants are capable, they just sometimes need a bit of guidance. But it’s how we give the guidance which is important – don’t take over.
After learning about Oxytocin Boosts and how creativity can boost oxytocin levels, we wanted to make the workshop as bright, colourful, fun, wacky and imaginative as possible for the kids to help them have fun and enjoy themselves. Remembering how participation, co-ordination and cooperation helped Richard at The Music Works grow in himself, we wanted to get everyone involved in working together to create something, without putting people on the spot individually.
Lastly, I really wanted to incorporate into our workshop the inclusive quality of the relationship between client and therapist during psychodynamic music therapy. It’s inclusive and creates trust. This is why we wanted one of the team to read the story out along with kids in the workshop and had the clapping element also so that the other team members could clap along, creating an inclusive atmosphere where everyone was involved at once.
Positives & Negatives of the group work:
- At times I found the group situation really really tough – there were a few moments where we just really needed to decide something or get something down or started i.e. writing the story, which felt at times like it was just two of us doing it.
- I think at times we worked really well together, like when we all shared ideas about different instruments we could make on our group chat. Everyone did a great job and we were all bouncing ideas off each other and had a very productive discussion.
- Really honestly, there were times when it felt like the amount of work each of us were putting in to make the workshop happen, was not equal across the group. For example, supplying different equipment/things we needed for the workshop and preparing the card with the story on etc. This, along with the lack of input in some of the discussion times made it really frustrating and hard work at times.