The old proverb may say ‘children should be seen but not heard’, but that could not have been farther from the truth at Danetree School in West Ewell recently, when pupils from Year 3 were given a masterclass in dance, rhythm and general noise-making by members of the internationally successful music and dance ensemble Stomp.
Performers from the group, who have had a show running in the West End for over 13 years and who featured in the London 2012 Olympic closing ceremony, took the students on a journey through making sound from everyday objects, and finding their inner rhythms and using them to make a performance piece.
“It was an amazing experience for the children – it’s not often they’re encouraged to make quite so much noise in the classroom,” said teacher Lucy Cudd, who organised the visit.
“Stomp are so energetic and their work is so infectious that within minutes, the children were totally absorbed in it. The performers began by demonstrating how they work and playing some games, before giving the children a series of coded percussive instructions on movements and sounds they wanted them to make.
“Later on, the group leader taught the children a basic Stomp routine, and then split them up into groups to work on pieces of their own, which they then performed to the rest of the group. I’ve never seen a classroom reaction quite like it!”
The lack of words and recognisable tuned notes means Stomp’s work is accessible to all, crossing any musical divides of genre or taste. Miss Cudd said these were the precise reasons that make it so accessible to children, and why it had, in every sense, become a
“Stomp’s all about rhythm, which everyone can relate to, even if it’s just from something as basic as the beating of their own heart,” she explained. “It’s a wonderful way of involving people in the study of music,because it’s so utterly unconventional, but at the same time,
“There’s so much music around children today, it’s very easy for them to take it for granted or only be interested in one particular genre. As educators, we have a responsibility to expand their horizons and present them with things they might never encounter – and it’s fair to say Stomp visiting the classroom was pretty much unlike anything any of them is likely to have experienced before."
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