Monday, 11 June 2012

From Manchester and to London

On the 24 May Robert and two colleagues came from Manchester Grammar to visit us in Leeds. At the West Park Centre they looked at our main teaching set . They were able to see what you would get if space, and money, were no object, with our two sets of six basses,  tenor basses, cello pans etc. I also include with this big set single seconds and a single guitar for the beginners and the less able, and those for whom two pieces of metal forming one instrument is just too much to take in.

In my other life in schools I specialise in teaching music to children with Additional Needs [Special Needs], and it is through teaching them that I begin to understand more how the more mainstreamers learn stuff.  And it my undertanding that it is a question of expectation, and, for some people, coming to play an instrument means playing one item. Often you put a person [childen or adult] inside a set of six bass, ask them to play all the notes in front of them, and they play just the one drum.  Most people get over this expectation but some don't. And it doesn't seem to be linked to intelligence or general ability.

And so, for the them, the single pans. [Which are also necessary in a marching band].

After that Robert and the gang jumped into my little Skoda Fabia and we toured Leeds. Quarry Mount, South Leeds, Sharp Lane, City of Leeds, all this on the hottest day of the year so far. We're hot and we're exhausted.
Our visitors have seen two primary and two high schools, three of our five pan teachers, a range of ability and experience and all using Foxwood Songsheets to learn to play from. Using notation for pans, or not, is a debate that I have been having with the World for 16 years now.  I was convinced for the need in the early 80s when I first met pans, and I when I first started devising the Foxwood Songsheets, and three decades later, I have seen nothing to convince me otherwise.

So it was with great pleasure that I went down to Lambeth the following week and met Mat Fox and was able to watch him teach his pan classes, and using notation. Easily able to join in with the classes myself. Mat and I met when we played pans together at the Southbank for the Festival of Britain last July in that glorious five band combo [maybe 100 players?] as we rocked through We Nah Goin' Home.  See the two pics of our bands in the Clore Ballroom at the Festival Hall, London. 
And, indeed, we rocked through quite a few tunes at his school. Can't show photos of children so here's pictures of a fountain in Kennington Park and a school  set into the terrace on the high street.

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