Primary/Lower Schools

We offer various options, which can be tailored to your needs:

  1. All-day workshops for all/most classes in school in turn (see also: School Fetes)
  2. Half-day workshops for a few selected classes
  3. All-day carousels of rotating activities for up to five parallel classes
  4. Drum & Dance classes (can be one-off or weekly)
  5. Regular weekly sessions for one class over six-ten weeks building up to a thrilling performance

All-day / half-day workshops

An ideal Enrichment Day (Option A above) starts with a thrilling half-hour demo performance in assembly where I explain the basic techniques (to save time later in individual sessions) and then teach everyone a traditional African song. This introduction can be extended by showing photos of our African trips and/or a short film. Then we'd split into groups for two or three drumming sessions through the morning. After lunch we could teach two more classes, or each morning group could get another session to practise what they've learned, ready to perform at the end of the day to parents/other classes. It's up to you how we structure the day and how many classes take part (up to a maximum of five, but if performing at the end, then only two or at the most three, to give us time to practice). We sometimes even teach just one class all day, providing a whole range of interesting activities (African singing, drumming, fashion, photos, film), but the rest of the school might get a bit jealous! If they do, check out our All-Day Carousels and get them involved too!

[ Kids love drumming, photo by Ness ]A typical day's timetable for two classes:

We find children's attention spans often wane after 45-60 minutes, no matter how much fun they're having drumming and singing, so prefer to limit sessions to an hour, or at least have a break and alternate activities: plenty of warm-up games to wake everyone up and perhaps some discussion about the cultural history of the music. Having more than five classes in one day becomes too much of a production-line, and gets difficult to remember who we've taught what; children are usually very perceptive and notice that we are becoming robotic instead of our usual bouncy selves delivering high energy sessions.

I work alone or with other facilitators as needed, and we have all been CRB/DBS-checked (Enhanced Disclosure) for working with children. If you can afford the extra cost, having a co-facilitator will greatly enhance your experience and we'll achieve better results more quickly.

[ Malcolm demonstrating a gong to thrilled children, photo by Ness Churn ]We can provide a large number of drums, plus an almost infinite amount of diverse and curious percussion instruments: shakers, bells, thunder drums, claves, and even gongs, which are a massive favourite with the kids. (If your school are studying space-related topics, I can adapt my Cosmic Sound Journey workshops to fit your curriculum needs.)

We can also give a fascinating presentation about Africa, complete with footage from our trips out there and vital background on the origins of the drums, the songs and the people's way of life.

"A thoroughly enjoyable day and fabulous experience for all."

[ African sunset on our first night arriving in Abene |Silk cotton trees |Ziguinchor street with palm tree and dudes hanging out on bench |The creek approaching Cassiopeia |Traditional djola roundhouses |Church tower ]

Class sizes are usually up to 30 children, although smaller groups allow more focused teaching. Larger groups need two or more facilitators, so for groups bigger than 30 I work alongside Justine from HartBeats, who can bring many more drums in another vehicle - up to 100 in total, but that needs a huge hall and strict discipline to maintain order!

Drumming and Dance classes

Justine also teaches traditional African dance for Year 2 upwards, and it is always very exciting to get some children to drum for others who wish to get up and dance! We can either lead combined drum+dance classes in one session, or I can be in another room taking the drummers to the next level while she shows the dance moves.

Weekly classes

[ You bet drumming is fun! | For more intensive learning, regular weekly sessions allow children's innate rhythmic abilities to develop further, not to mention the many other added benefits of increased confidence and team spirit. A ten-week course gives enough time to develop their performance skills as well as covering all aspects of African Drumming, including the dunduns and percussion, which are always very popular. Unless all pupils are already experienced players, six weeks leaves barely enough time to cover everything and prepare them for performance, but it depends on the class, particularly on their ability to listen and focus. And we do realise the difficulty of timetabling when there are often only six or seven weeks in a Half Term. Playing together over a series of weeks and building up to a performance to parents/assembly is always very exciting, giving children chance to experience what it's like to work together as a band.

An after-school drumming club will encourage budding musicians, and as mentors we inspire them to practise. I ran one at Willington in 2012 which was open to KS2-age children from any school.

For any weekly sessions to be affordable and avoid travel costs, we need to timetable other schools in a similar area on the same day, so if you can be as flexible as possible, or even better, can team up with other local schools, it will help in planning the sessions. We can't always guarantee your first choice of day if it clashes with other bookings. Please be sure to list in your enquiry any impossible time or day of the week, and your preferred (half-)term, and roughly how many sessions you're looking to book.

KS2

Age 7-8 is our main age group for teaching, as it is at this age that children's rhythmic awareness really starts to blossom. We adapt traditional rhythms making them memorable and easy to understand while still maintaining their musical integrity. Our lessons fulfil many curriculum needs such as developing a feel for rhythm, ensemble playing and singing.

If you're going to mix classes, please keep similar ages together, since, as you know, teaching Year 1 is very different from Year 4.

KS1

When working with younger Year 1+2 children who are (in general) still developing their sense of rhythm, we begin slowly with more musical games and setting the scene exploring African culture. Some children will be able to play simple rhythms, but we can also include elements of our Cosmic Sound Journeys in an African theme to take the chlidren on an exciting Jungle Journey.

Reception

Like KS1, our work with Reception (age 4+) focuses on musical games and storytelling, giving a fun introduction to percussion. We also work with Pre-School (age 3+ only) and Parent+Child groups. But we are not a creche, so parents (or helpers) need to accompany their child/children younger than 4 to focus their attention.

 

Costs for drumming+singing workshops in Primary Schools

These costs may be eligible for discounts, and all include us bringing enough drums for a whole class of up to 30 children. For more children, add £1 per extra drum. The full-day cost works out at better value (from just £2 per child) than a half-day, since for us much of the effort is admin+travel+setup time. Hence the cost for a one-off hour-long workshop is the same as a whole afternoon/morning as it prevents us teaching elsewhere. Mornings are a premium as there are 3 hours and rush-hour causes delays.

One-off workshops with two facilitators (recommended) for 30 or more children: (+ £1 per extra drum above 30)

One-off workshops with just one facilitator for up to 30 children:

 

All-day Carousels of rotating activities for up to five parallel classes of 30 with different facilitators

Our All-Day Carousels now have their own dedicated page, so see the various costs for Options C there.

 

African Drum+Dance workshops for classes of up to 30 children with two or more facilitators

For African Dancing with Justine and me as well as drumming+singing, add 25% to the two facilitator prices above and quote Option D2. Please consider having longer sessions to give time for both drumming and dancing.

 

Weekly classes with just one facilitator with up to 30 children: (West Herts, Beds & Bucks only)

Weekly sessions for 2 classes on the same afternoons cost less, e.g., 2*E7 = £750 (instead of £780).

Weekly sessions for 3 classes in the same mornings cost even less, e.g., 3*E7 = £1120 (instead of £1170).

Weekly classes with two facilitators may be possible but costs will inevitably be higher, depending on the project, especially for locations further afield.

[ Ghanaian Apentema drums ]

"The children got an enormous amount of enjoyment from these weekly drumming sessions as well as learning.
A fabulous way to enrich the curriculum. I would highly recommend these lessons."
- Year 2 Class Teacher