The second school visit of the year, was by the invitation of a teacher at the Ltyentye Apurte School in Santa Teresa, 80km south-east of Alice Springs. Having observed the kids’ tendencies to beat out a rhythm on anything with anything, the teacher tracked us down to bring our African rhythm program to their school. We appreciated her opinion that a rhythm program would have educational and therapeutic benefits for their school, and we were keen to provide it!
Over a two week intensive period, we worked with every grade class at least four times each. The transitions and grade ones didn’t miss out either as we entertained them with simple songs, dances and rhythm accompaniments. All one hundred and twenty of the enrolled kids had an opportunity to learn rhythm with us in that fortnight and the response was most enthusiastic.
Of course, the experience of learning ensemble drumming takes a lot of concentration on many things at once; technique, listening, playing and listening, polyrhythms, etc. To begin each class, we would take the students through warm-up and cross-core exercises to limber up their bodies and their brains, in order to able to focus on ‘the pulse’ and recognize group cohesion.
As the fortnight progressed, we developed and practiced unique rhythm arrangements specific to each class, according to their skill development. These pieces were performed by each grade class at school assembly on our last day, giving them the experience of performing for an audience, which in this case was their wider school community. Having a performance outcome helps to develop individual and group confidence, which inevitably extends to a becoming sense of pride and empowerment for the whole community. Everyone was so happy with the results and the experience that we were invited back to the school in August.