My time as an ArtStarts Artist in the Classroom at Hellings Elementary began with a Simon Says Meets Twister game that challenged the students’ music, movement, and verbal literacies. All of us realized a lot about how we learn through this fun activity. The school requested a project that would allow students to express important issues related to their social emotional learning through “found object” rhythmic exploration. So, we watched numerous videos of STOMP-like percussion performances with drummers who used everything from kitchen pans, buckets, staplers, and boots as their instruments to communicate a rage of stories and emotions. Then, we reviewed diverse drumming styles from around the world (Japanese Taiko, Cuban Samba, Indonesian Gamelan, and African drumming, Indian tabla, and Native Powwow) and discussed what moods each rhythmic style conveyed. Out of this inquiry, we came up with an emotional trigger scale ranging from Mellow Yellow, to Moody Blue, Red Hot Rage, Purple Pride and Green Glory. Consequently, students began to create their own stories through rhythmic expression, using basketballs, jump ropes, school supplies, video game controllers, and cups (like the YouTube sensation Lennon & Maisy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_aJHJdCHAo). Below is a photo of one entire class, in rapt attention, performing this complicated rhythm together:
Students identified “digital boredom” as a trigger for sad/blue emotions, “losing” or “being left out” as triggers for anger or red emotions, “school spirit” as something that elicits prideful/purple emotions, and “achievement” or “winning” as positive/green emotion-inducing triggers. They also mentioned “napping” or “chilling” as the activity which most makes them calm or mellow yellow. So, our performance, which they will share with all of the students at Hellings on December 4th, begins with everyone in a sleeping circle doing a giant, rhythmic contagious snore!
These students have worked very hard throughout our engagements. And I have been thrilled to see them apply their exuberant energy and infinite creativity towards the wildly imaginative final show that they will present in just two weeks.