Whitburn’s Got Rhythm! Posted on: 22 Nov 2017

Written by Jessica Wells-Auchterlonie, 11JH

On Thursday 14th November, 30 pupils from Years 7 – 11 participated in a percussion workshop held by Chris Bradley.  The aim was to understand how we could successfully add percussion instruments to our ongoing compositions and improve our knowledge on this section of the orchestra.

The day began with a fun pulse game which involved pupils standing in a circle passing a rhythm around to a steady pulse.  The rhythm was made up of English, African and Indian words for different length notes for example ‘ta’ and ‘titi’.  The game started off easy but quickly increased in difficulty with more complicated rhythms.  Chris taught us how to use simple looped ostinatos to create a complex and creative composition, with an interactive performance using body percussion; pupils lead their own groups in this activity.

The focus of the second hour of the workshop was ‘skins, metals and woods’.  Here pupils got to see and play various different percussion instruments from around the world.  This was followed by a whole group Djembe performance.

Using Sibelius ICT software, pupils then composed an 8 bar rhythm for any percussion and performed it live.  The rest of the group then marked it out of 10!

The day culminated in a whole group performance using various percussion instruments including Vibraphone and Marimba.  This used the ‘layering’ technique with short motifs based on a pentatonic scale.  The performance lasted for well over 30 minutes!

The day was a great experience and was enjoyed by all.

The Academy would like to express their thanks to Chris Bradley for such a wonderful experience and to South Tyneside and Gateshead Music Hub for funding the event.  We look forward to working with Chris again in the New Year.