Thursday, 28 November 2013

Rhythms with Drums, Patterning with Rhythm

For many years I have introduced my class to Stomp. They loved the ideas presented in the video, and I would guide them, teaching specific beats, rhythms, and techniques. I would give them different materials to play with, and we would have a good time. 
Live performance of Stomp.
This year I have tried to step back as we have been working through a project-based learning model. Instead of specifically telling my class what I wanted them to do, I just showed them the video. I didn't micromanage any part of what happened after they watched Stomp. I showed the video, and then I let them think about what they would like to do. As a result I have seen more great ideas, and unique ways to create the performance, than in any of the other years I have taught.

Unique sounds with unique instruments.
Students were coming up with their own ideas, their own beats and rhythms, and putting it all together quickly. In the past when I tried to get this independent thought process going, it was a bit of a struggle. This year I have a class that is developing confidence in thinking for themselves. It has become natural, they are no longer constantly looking to an adult for answers. They formed drumming circles and started to jam.

Lots of "found" instruments creating different sounds.
Playing with the different ways to make sounds with an instrument.

Happily this confidence continued when I issued a challenge to the class at the end of our jam session. We have been studying patterning, and I asked them to represent their drumming somehow as a pattern. As a BYOD class, I had everything from paper and pencil, whiteboards, to music apps on devices. There was a great variety of answers, and they all made sense and showed the rhythms, beats, and/or instruments that groups had been using. I think fractions might be discovered next as we explore at the different rhythms in class.

Actual instruments visually represented with the number representing percussion.
Recreating the pattern in Garage Band.
Pattern represented with sequence of musical notes.

Stomp is going to be our Christmas performance this year. I was hoping they would think of that! As we use technology daily, my students are naturally think ing of how to integrate some of the technology into the show as well. When someone mentioned it would be cool to see a video close up of the drummers techniques while they are on stage, another student suggested using Facetime with two iPads: one filming the close ups of the performance, and the other broadcasting the video to a projector. 

The most exciting part is that they have three weeks to create their performance. The scariest part, as a former micromanaging teacher, is that I have no idea what it is going to look like yet. But I am sure that it is going to be fun, engaging, and memorable!

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