Introduced by a few lines from The Silver Swan.
– blue fabric “river” and feather boa “swan” – dream chime that helpers could hold for children to sweep their fingers through to create a gentle chiming, creating a peaceful, floaty mood.
Sequence: The Silver Swan – chimes – fabric – gentle bluey-green watery light – clarinet ripples from behind – cello melody
Introduced by a stanza from West Side Story.
– bright red-orange fabric – Latin-American costume – castanets and maracas to establish the characteristic Latin-American dance rhythm.
Sequence: – establish rhythm– add children’s different pitch maracas –introduce red-orange fabric and lighting – add cello accompaniment – clarinet rides in with tune.
Introduced by a few Lines on Westminster Bridge.
– golden fabric and lighting – jingles, either held or worn around the wrist, for a sparkling sunrise effect. Sequence: – establish cello pizz – add golden dawn lighting effect – add jingles – add arpeggios on clarinet – cello swings into the tune.
Introduced by lines from A Piper.
– multi-coloured fabrics – large and small drums struck by hand or with beaters for a mood of celebration. Sequence: – shifting coloured lighting and coloured fabrics give a disco feel – the cello establishes Bartok’s dance rhythm – drums join – clarinet adds tune.
On Day 1 we introduced four contrasting pieces of music, two peaceful items (The Swan and Morning) and two lively pieces (America and Cushion Dance). We performed each piece for the children while at the same time associating each piece with a few introductory lines of spoken poetry, with brightly coloured sari lengths of fabric and with ambient coloured lighting (thanks to being in a room which made this possible). We then engaged the children and their helpers through atmospheric use of different types of percussion as we performed each piece for a second time. The Swan was accompanied by gentle dream chimes, America featured Latin-American style maracas, Morning used tinkling bells and oriental cymbals and Cushion Dance provided a chance to play drums, large or small as appropriate to each child. The children were invited to play the percussion instruments to whatever extent was possible for them, or at least to experience the sound of percussion at close quarters through their adult carers enabling the sounds for them. Strong rhythms were provided thanks to the participation of Rutherford’s Music Therapists Sarah Kong and Victoria Brock, underpinned by our own orchestral instruments and, in the case of America, by my drumming feet!
The pre-planned groups of children necessarily changed as the school adapted to cope with each child’s individual needs throughout the day; I suspect this was a headache for the Rutherford staff but it was not a problem for us as we were always helped by the staff to work with each child in ways appropriate to them. I was very happy to be able to build on the experience gained last year of keeping group sizes small, something that enabled us in each session to relate to individual children. We began every session with a hello song devised by Julia in which a short linking phrase led to a special tune personalised for each child in turn, and this was a lovely device for giving each child a sense of being special; eye contact was achieved with several of the children, especially at the end when each child’s special piece was used to say goodbye. Because group sizes were so small it was always possible to achieve giving each child their own special musical moment but in a short space of time.
Our aim on Day 2 was to work at specific pieces requested by each group, developing percussion effects and rhythms, making more vivid use of scenery, props and lighting, and bringing the whole together into a satisfying performance that enveloped the children in a multi-sensory and multi-art-form experience.
Julia and I developed the hello and goodbye songs by finding a special percussion instrument that each child could play, perhaps with some extra help; we took care to repeat each child’s special tune from Day 1 and so hoped to create a link and a sense of progression across the two days, separated as they were by only one intervening day in the same week.