Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sunday 27th May - Form - the light goes on (at last)

Two events over the past few days have caused a Big Light to Switch On...

Product DetailsOn Saturday I speed-read my way (that combination of words looks and sounds so wrong - speed-readed? speed-red? English is a crazy distortion of the way a decent, well-ordered alphabet should be used. No wonder reading has become an elitist activity. Anyway, back on track...) through "The Beach cafe" by Lucy Diamond - a pleasant, "chick-lit" novel.

On Friday I attended a music conference for Primary School Music Teachers. One of the workshops I took part in was run by someone called Sarah Hennessy, from the Exeter University PGCE course. Her workshop was inspirational for many reasons; as full of plums as a Christmas Pudding.

One of the things we did was create a "soundscape" (in the style of 4-7 year old children, as it was an "Early-Years" - (here we go again - why don't those two words rhyme?) workshop. This type of music teaching isn't new to me now, as a teacher, but we never, ever, did anything like this when I was at school. Standing in rows and singing nursery rhymes and folk songs, and occasionally getting a rusty triangle was about the height of it in my day.

Sarah Hennessy got us going by asking a series of questions;
"We need to choose somewhere that we don't know much about - where are travelling?" From the offerings made by the group of teachers, (space, the moon etc) we chose "Under the sea"

"Who are we? what sort of beings are dong the travelling?" Eventually we agreed on "sharks", much quicker than we would have done if we were actually 7-year-olds.

"What is the destination?" A "magical kingdom/castle under the sea"

"Now we need to have some contrasting adventures along the way." As mature adults, we quickly settled on "swimming through the nursery where the baby sharks are sleeping", "getting sucked into a whirlpool" and "swimming past some lobsters".

One of these was my suggestion - I'll reveal it at the end of the post.

We were put into groups - sharks, nursery, whirlpool, lobsters and magic kingdom, given a few minutes to create our "music" and then we were off. (Guess which group I was in!) Sarah had drawn a rough sketch of our journey on the white board - a graphic score - and - watching carefully as she mapped out the route with a beater, we bonged and tinkled and scrapped and tapped at exactly the right moments; sharks, nursery,sharks again, whirlpool, sharks again, lobsters, sharks once again and the magic kingdom. I notice that the sharks played slightly differently, within the same kind of idea, every time it was their turn; faster, or louder, or faster and louder. It was a perfect example of Rondo form.

So what has the light bulb got to do with this?


the heroine and the family are introduced; an event precipitates the journey; the family react; something else happens; someone from the family reacts; there is another event; some one else from the family reacts; etc etc until we arrive at the magical conclusion to the story; in other words - Rondo Form! - Don't get me wrong - I'm not knocking the book - I enjoyed it as a "Beach Read".

Well, I expect all you literary buffs knew all this before. I've only been reading books and playing the piano for over 50 years and never really thought about it before. It just goes to show the difference that a little learning can make. I'm now planning my first novel. If you are really, really, unlucky, I may post it here in instalments first. Or maybe it will join my huge and growing heap of unfinished projects...

(I suggested the nursery - bet you thought it was the whirlpool!)
(I was in the magical kingdom group and got to play the Really Big Glockenspiel - Yay!)

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