Sunday Times Prep School of the Year 2013-14

Dance to the beat...

We all wondered what was in store for us when we faced our most recent visitors in school when we gathered together in the Hall at the start of the day – a collection of large African drums alongside a few other traditional-looking instruments proudly displayed in the hands of the Blema African drummers and dancers sat in colourful traditional dress. Our rigid, up-right stance, sitting in silence on the floor, or chairs for the staff, was soon broken down as the most amazing sounds and beats started to echo and fill the space around us. There were no microphones in sight and only these 4 unassuming musicians in front of us, but their sound and energy was like that of the African safari plains come-to-life!

We watched enchanted, as the drums were struck in many different ways by the pair of incredibly skilled hands to create a huge range of sounds from a booming, deep bass to a much more gentle tapping and pitter-patter coming solely from the fingers. A gourd-like rattle was shaken and tapped, as well as a cow-bell like instrument struck in ringing accompaniment. Throughout this, lyrical voices rose and fell in a hypnotic chant and it did not matter in the slightest that we did not understand the actual language being sung as it was harmonious, haunting, joyful, powerful and moving all at the same time. No one could stop themselves appreciating and being caught up in the sound. 

We were taught some clapped rhythms and were soon encouraged onto our feet to sway and move in time to the beat. This session, and the following extended workshop for our Year 6 girls, had been introduced by Mrs Petersons in support of the leavers' production which will take place in June and is the popular choice of, 'The Lion King' musical.

Music is most certainly good for the soul and this session was well-timed and proved just what was needed first thing by staff and girls alike.