This was an unusual class in many ways. The girls’ love for dramatic story telling prompted almost an entire class devoted to the development, rehearsal and enactment of one story. The class loosely followed some goals I had already set up, which was to work with 3 different rhythm patterns that are found in the slow movement of Mahler’s 1st Symphony. This movement is a basically a minor reworking of the tune Frere Jacques. But here is roughly the sequence of events:
- I asked the girls to create characters for each of the 3 rhythm patterns I had written on the board, and which I played on the drum. They came up with a king, a queen and a kangaroo.
- I let them choose whichever character they wanted to be. There were many kangaroos, a few queens and no kings – so I took on that role.
- We explored how each group would move according to their specific rhythm pattern.
- By asking them a series of questions, they created the following scenario: there is a king who likes turning people into statues, and one day he froze the entire kingdom. When the queen saw this she tried to save the statues, but was unsuccessful. A bunch of kangaroos came along and worked their magic spells to release the people. The queen was delighted.
- Each group had percussion instruments. The kangaroos were to play for each other, and all played for me. We practiced this.
- We enacted the story, attempting to talk as little as possible. This was easier the second time.
- I told them that after the statues were released, the king was sorry he had done that. The entire kingdom came together and moved each other’s rhythms in different patterns. At this point I played the Mahler and asked them to listen for each rhythm and move freely however they liked. Some chose to move as a character, others choose to pretend to play instruments. After one time through, we talked about what they heard. We played it one more time, and pointed out the various rhythms we heard as it went along.
By this point, the time was almost up. We gathered for a quick round or two of the St. Louis Blues, and had to say goodbye. This was a class I might be able to repeat with a different group, but only one as imaginative and interested in story as this one.