As a Performing Arts practitioner, I’ve spent my whole life, from being a kid myself who loved her drama, dancing, singing and music, to being a Music teacher in secondary schools, to running my own Performing Arts company with my husband, trying to articulate just what it is about the Performing Arts that makes them so unique and such a positive force in life.
Whilst I very much believe that most people these days have a better understanding of why the arts should be a part of everyone’s life and their development as a human being, there are still a few who are fairly stuffy about what they see as a frivolous hobby, or at best a peripheral activity to be engaged in whilst not ‘having a proper job’. I remember a friend’s father being utterly bewildered that I wanted to make a career in the arts when I was very academic as well!
The way I see it, whilst performing on the stage isn’t for everyone, when you think about it, aren’t we all performers in life? It’s true that performing on the stage cultivates many personal qualities that are prized in everyday life – dedication, hard work, perseverance, the ability to push through nerves, leadership skills, and many more. I’m sure I could fill volumes on case studies of individual children and young people who I’ve seen transformed and shining with new confidence from their experiences and accomplishments.
In the last four years, my husband Stuart and I have been teaching in a large International
School in Qatar (of 2022 World Cup fame!). As Head of Music there, I had the privilege of constructing a meaningful programme for kids of many diverse nationalities and cultures, some with artistic backgrounds, most with next to no experience at all. It was this that really brought home to me how powerful a medium Music is, and how it really does speak to us on so many different levels. Without any level of technique at all, everyone has the ability to engage with music on an emotional level, and on a communicative level, the old adage being that it is the universal language. Whilst our cultures and musical traditions may be diverse, the power to engage and transform is always there.
It was in Qatar that the idea for our new venture ‘SoundSketch’ was born. SoundSketch is inspired by the group STOMP! For those of you that don’t know, they use household and industrial items such as brooms, metal dustbins and even kitchen skinks to create exhilarating pieces of rhythm, movement and theatre. The thing that appealed to us was that we instantly knew that this would be fantastic for kids. Most kids love making noise, but we also saw a way to engage all kids in music-making and physical theatre without having the pre-requisite of being able to play an instrument or having technique. Without these, we can get to the fundamentals of music and drama – physicality, ensemble work, rhythms and cross-rhythms, character building, you name it!
The idea is quirky enough to grab attention, but the best part for Stuart and I is the sheer exhilaration on the kids’ faces when everything comes together and the rhythms sound funky and you see each child’s character shining through. We started in November thinking that this would be great as a weekend club for kids, but since then things have snowballed as people have latched onto what we do and can see potential for things that we didn’t to start with! Every week, we’re in various schools in Gloucestershire delivering workshops, and even corporate team building has started to take off! We’re also really excited to be collaborating with Olà Samba for holiday workshops – ‘Beat Camp!’ The first of these runs at Easter in Cheltenham, a link is available via our website.
If you fancy getting involved with our unique brand of music-making and drama, do get in touch with us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07815 500459. You can also contact us via Facebook or Twitter, and find more information on our website www.soundsketch.co.uk
See SoundSketch on the All 4 Kids UK Directory at www.all4kidsuk.com