[ Kids love to shake, rattle and roll, photo by Ness ]Just see what the kids are saying!

Here are some random remarks heard during (and after) school and community workshops:

"Drumming is AWESOME! It's my favourite subject!"

"I've been looking forward to this class all week."

"Whenever I can't fall asleep at night, I sing our songs from drumming."

"You should be on Britain's Got Talent!"



Comments from staff and clients

"It was like being at Glastonbury, without the mud! All the children were captivated."

- Camilla Francis, Teacher, York Road Nursery, Hitchin


"Many thanks for joining us at the Doctors Support Network Conference and AGM on Saturday. Your African Drumming Workshop was very well received, and provided the perfect energy boost at the end of a long day, when we were all starting to flag."

- Alison Holt, Secretary, Doctors Support Network


"Wow! What a fabulous day! All children (and adults) were fully engaged throughout the session. They responded incredibly well to Malcolm's calm, precise instructions and thoroughly enjoyed every part of the day. Our performance in the afternoon was amazing... Who would have thought we could do so much in one day."

- Lauren Dighton, Rockingham Primary School, Corby, Northants


"The Drummers really set the mood for the [charity firewalk], and really got the crowds and walkers excited for the event. AMAZING!"

- Hayley Pearson, Event Fundraiser, Keech Hospice Care, Luton


"The children thoroughly enjoyed learning about African drums, rhythm, beat and having a go! Our topic was all about Africa and it was the first lesson the children had about music. They loved watching and joining in and were engaged throughout the workshop. The workshops were brilliant in every way and I think the children would have loved to have seen and heard you play on your own with your singing voice as we got little snippets of your true talent when you were modelling. We have already booked for you to come back for our year 1s next year and we are looking forward to joining in with the workshops again and welcoming you back!"

- Nicole Chesham, Class Teacher, Chantry Primary Academy, Luton


"Loved it! Children really enjoyed the participation and all the different instruments you brought. Loved the way it was done through stories too."

- Claire Toumazou, Early Years / Foundation Stage Teacher, Pinchmill Lower School


"An excellent day full of the joy and rhythms of Africa. Every chlid loved it and made great progress in their skills over the day. Malcolm and Chrissie had a fantastic manner with the children, and got the very best from them."

- Tracey Feil, Phase Leader, a primary school in Milton Keynes


"The children loved the drumming demonstration by Malcolm and the workshop itself was great. Malcolm has a lovely way with the children, keeping them engaged and focused. The parents are in for a treat this afternoon when we put on a drumming performance! Thanks for all the extra resources too like the YouTube clip and photos for the Year 4's."

- Clarice Champion, Senior Teacher, Maple Tree Lower School, Sandy


"I could not be more pleased with our sessions. We had chosen a group of children who might not otherwise have had much opportunity for such an experience and certainly not outside school. They were not chosen for musical ability and were from different classes and year groups. Some could display challenging behaviour.

Not only did the children finish the workshops able to play a range of pieces on different types of drum, but also they gained a lot in terms of self-esteem and sense of achievement. Malcolm Smith is a talented musician but also a good - and very patient - teacher who was able to adapt his own teaching style and the content of the lessons to suit a diverse group of children.

It was really important for these children not only to have this experience but to have a positive attitude and Malcolm ensured this through the way he taught. We ended with a public performance which has been described as "thoroughly enjoyable", and "entertaining" and in which "the children performed with enthusiasm". These are all comments received from fellow staff. We would definitely look to organising something similar again."

- Chris Loft, Assistant Head Teacher, Goldington Green School, Bedford


"Thank you for being so FANTASTIC! The day provided the children with an excellent experience which inspired and motivated them. They couldn't wait to practise their new skills back the classroom. We really appreciated how flexible you were on the day, changing things last minute to suit our hectic schedule! Thank you so much for working with two of our children with special needs - they thoroughly enjoyed participating in the workshops! You adapted the workshops to the different year groups really well, providing a good level of challenge to every child. We will definitely be asking you back again soon!"

- Mike Birch, Reception Teacher, Downley School, Bucks


"I just wanted to email to say thank you for all of your hard work over the past six weeks. The drumming sessions were brilliant, and I know the children thoroughly enjoyed them. I have already received lots of positive feedback from school governors and parents regarding the performance this afternoon. We will be interested in more drumming lessons in the future; we just need to plot where they fit into our curriculum. When the time arises, we will definitely be in touch. Thanks once again!"

- Kylie Grey, KS2 Teacher, Cotton End Lower School


"A brief note to thank you and your colleagues for your contribution to last evening's farewell celebrations. Given half the chance I think the session would have gone deep into the early hours! The whole atmosphere created by the drums proved to be so infectious and really made the evening! It was just such a wonderful experience that will remain in the memory for a long time. Please pass on my thanks to all involved - it was fantastic!!"

- Howard Darbon, Co-ordinator, Pre-Games Training Camps in Bedford [for West African Paralympics athletes]


"I would just like to say that your drumming class you did at Gilwell 24 was great and myself and the rest of Drake ESU had a fantastic time drumming!"

- Emily Cohu, Drake Explorer Scouts


"The pupils were always engaged throughout the drumming. It thoroughly enhanced their musical education in terms of tempo, pitch and keeping a steady beat."

- Paul Hull, Class Teacher, New Chapter Primary School, Milton Keynes


"Just wanted to say how wonderful you were last week. Parents, teachers and pupils all throroughly enjoyed your sessions. Thank you so much and I hope we didn't wear you out!"

- Gill Carpenter, Inclusion Co-ordinator, Oaklands School, Welwyn


"One of the best workshops we have ever had. The children from Reception to Year Six were all enthused and invigorated by the experience, as were the staff. Can't wait for the next visit, especially the staff workshop after school."

- Sheena Tower (Year 4 Teacher, Arnett Hills School, Rickmansworth)

"The children loved it and it was a fantastic day for all involved. The parent concert was a great chance for us to showcase our new skills, and lots of the parents commented that they were amazed at what the children had learnt in just one session. Thanks again, looking forward to seeing you next time!"

- Laura Cox (Year 2 Teacher and Music Co-ordinator, Arnett Hills School, Rickmansworth)

"It was brilliant. I liked learning the words - they helped us to the learn the rhythms."
"I liked playing the dun duns in the performance because it made me feel really confident and proud."
"I liked it when my mummy watched me doing African drumming."
"It was one of the best music lessons ever!"

- pupils at Arnett Hills School, Rickmansworth


"On behalf of the children and teachers in Year 3 I would like to say 'thank you' for a fantastic day of drumming workshops. The children learnt a huge amount about African drumming and quickly picked up the techniques you demonstrated. We were amazed at the quality of their drumming after just 45 minutes and we've never seen them concentrate so hard! The children responded to your friendly and professional manner and loved finding out about the different instruments you brought with you. The day exceeded our expectations and we look forward to inviting you back next year."

- Josie Heald, Rothwell Junior School, Northamptonshire


"Thank you so much for your work at the Samhain Winter Festival last weekend. The whole day was a huge success and was enjoyed by all; thank you again for helping to make this possible."

- Clare and Luca, Celtic Harmony


"I just wanted to say thank you for the drumming workshop you did at the school fete on Saturday. It was really good and everyone wants me to tell you how much they enjoyed all the drumming."

- Susan Lambert, Teacher and Autism Co-ordinator, Oakleigh School, Barnet


"The activity was enjoyed by students. The team managed to engage large numbers of students throughout the day and produced some wonderful outcomes. Thank you for being part of our school Winter Wonder Day."

- Lucy Harrison, Assistant Headteacher, Hertswood School, Borehamwood


"The drumming, dancing and singing was fantastic. It was amazing to watch and listen to 70 girls all drumming together and the discipline and concentration that went with it. The girls really enjoyed the experience, they enjoyed the taster drumming session at the Centenary camp in the summer and agreed it would be a good idea to have the opportunity to do it again for our 20:10 20/10/2010 celebration. Thanks to Malcolm and his team it made our evening rather special."

- Sandra Cove, Guide Guider, Bedford South Ouse Guides


"Thank you for a wonderful morning at St. Albans South District Girlguiding Centenary Celebrations. Being able to hold the African Drumming sessions outside in the shade of a tree made it so authentic. All ages enjoyed their drumming sessions very much, from 5 years through to adults, and we would love to have you back."

- Janet Edwards, Secretary, St. Albans South District Girlguiding UK


"Thank-you for entertaining our daughter and her friends at her birthday party. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I've had positive comments back from parents I've spoken to. Most importantly (to us!) was that our daughter enjoyed it, as did her three year-old sister!"

- a parent in Berkhamsted


"I was so pleased with the African Drumming Experience, and know the students (and staff!) loved it. From the offset the dynamism and enthusiasm of Malcolm and Justine was infectious and, equally as importantly, they delivered the instructions to the students clearly and calmly. The students seemed to love being part of a huge circle of drumming and picked up the beats quickly. The dancing was another fantastic addition and meant that those that wanted to could get up on their feet and embrace the tribal experience!! The final performance by the two leaders and a selection of students was wonderful and a brilliant climax to a fantastic day. Thank you."

- Philippa Noble, Key Stage 3 Coordinator, St. George's School, Harpenden


"Thank you so much for joining us for our theme day today. The input from you [Justine] and Malcolm was invaluable and inspiring for our pupils and teachers. I personally would like to thank you for your flexibility which helped me enormously. I hope you might be back to work with us again sometime."

- Ros Shorrocks, ICT Coordinator, Alfriston School, Beaconsfield


"Malcolm, we gave you a tough gig (110 students in a sports hall for 1 hour) and you came up trumps. Despite the enormous group all students experienced taking part in an uplifting drumming workshop. Your suggestion to use a smaller group of students to lead the workshop was genius. Feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive."

- Kayte Judge, Good Things (organised an event at Shuttleworth College), Bedford


"Students were very impressed with the workshop and largely enjoyed it. I would be happy to use you again."

- Biddenham School


"Well presented. Fully engaged with audience. Good entertainment. Delightful to know musician. Would have again."

- Richard Hodgson, Parkinson's Disease Society, Bedford


"Feedback has been extremely positive. Everyone enjoyed it. We would certainly invite you back. It was professional and fun."

- Sally Petterson, Homestart, Potters Bar


"The workshops far exceeded our expectations. Every child was fully involved and really enjoyed it. Different parts and elements ensured all children could access at their own level. The performance added something even better - a real occasion and a fantastic opportunity! It was amazing to see every single child really concentrating and so determined to get it right! I would absolutely have Malcolm and Justine back - in fact they have been invited to return for a very special class assembly! Many thanks."

- Rachel Bennett, Year 6 Teacher, Lordship Farm School, Letchworth. Here are some pupils' comments:

"It was really good fun."

"I liked performing - it was scary but great!"

"It was original and different. It really gets you going."

"It was nice because it is so different to what we normally do."

"I liked how enthusiastic Malcolm and Justine were."

"He was so individual. I liked that he wore clothes to go with his drumming."


"The children thoroughly enjoyed the three workshops that they participated in. Every pupil was able to feel a sense of achievement due to the carefully structured and supported environment in which they worked. I know that adults that had the opportunity to take part with the children thoroughly enjoyed it too! They were tapping the rhythms on the tables for days after! Thank you very much. A very worthwhile activity."

- Sasha Lees, Class Teacher, Grange Junior School, Letchworth


DRUMMING - "This was very popular, with Malcolm and Justine having to get out extra drums for children. Those in [wheel]chairs were given smaller ones that could be placed on laps. Children listened really well and were able to follow instructions. When we all played together it sounded really good and surprisingly in tune; we also learnt a few songs using African words which sound good with the drums."

"Week 2 started with the arrival of Malcolm Smith who brings African drums and other strange instruments to CHIPS. The children loved exploring the sounds and the feel of the instruments. Some joined Malcolm for sessions of rhythm making, heard all over the school as the sound of Africa came to Hertford."

- Reports from CHIPS (CHildren's Integrated Playschemes) in Bishops Stortford and Hertford


"The children thoroughly enjoyed the session, and all the children were able to take part in the activities despite their difficulties. We would welcome any further visits from Drumming Is Fun."

- Greg Ivison, Playleader, CHIPS (CHildren's Integrated Playschemes), Cheshunt


"I just wanted to say a big thank you for yesterday, everyone really enjoyed the drumming and it was a real stress reliever!"

- Jo-Anna Jackson, Student Support Manager, Helena Kennedy Foundation


"Two workshops were booked for activity weeks during the summer holiday period 2008, at Margaret Beaufort School and John Gibbard Lower School. The age ranges of the children were 4.5-8 years and 9-13 years. Some children from the older age range had some experience of drumming however for the younger group this was their first experience. Malcolm worked extremely well with all of the children and explained the background and history to both the drums and the music in such a way that the children of all ages could comprehend. The workshops certainly were fun and we would definitely use this activity again if and when further activity weeks are planned."

- Jo Allen, Extended Schools Coordinator, Bedfordshire County Council


"Malcolm was in Lincroft for the majority of the 'Arts week' and worked excellently alongside the pupils. He worked diligently beyond his contracted time to give up lunch hours and enrich the pupils' experiences. The children had a wonderful week and participated enthusiastically as a result of the superb tutoring. The week culminated in a presentation assembly in front of the whole school; all 700+ pupils joined in with the drumming/singing presentation - it was a fitting and enjoyable culmination to the week's activities - a great celebration of drama, dance and music on the theme of 'Rhythm Nations'."

- Paul Wildman, Head of Performing Arts, Lincroft Middle School, Oakley, Bedford


[ Academy Federation Of North Beds Schools logo ]

Tuesday 26th June 2012

Dear Malcolm,

Please accept this letter as an acknowledgment of our sincere thanks and gratitude for your workshops during Arts Week 2012.

On behalf of all the middle schools within the North Bedfordshire Federation (Harrold Priory, Lincroft and Margaret Beaufort) we are always grateful when external practitioners visit the schools, striving to make new links with arts organisations. This is the first time that all three schools have participated in Arts Week and we intend to enrich the experience further over the coming years.

Once again our students have taken a great deal from the experience; it is always fascinating watching the pupils participating in lessons that extend beyond the traditional curriculum, seeing a different side to their characters and engaging themselves fully in the activities. Thank you for all your efforts and we look forward to working with you again soon.

Yours sincerely,

[ Paul Wildmans signature ]

- Paul Wildman, Lead Professional for Performing Arts, North Bedfordshire Academy Federation Middle Schools


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