The Right To Play – first workshop

Thursday, Day 56

Today was the first day of The Right To Play project and I’m relieved to say we got off to an overall strong and productive start, especially given my anxiety of the previous day! We had a group of about 20 children (fewer than planned, but perfectly good numbers for a project of this kind). Marqy and his team worked alongside Tony and myself, and it was a good day.

We started with some music games and warm-ups, establishing some foundational music disciplines in eye contact, imitation, careful listening, and cuing:

  • Physical warm-up with stretches, copying hand gestures
  • Call-and-response structures, using names and rhythms
  • Passing the clap swiftly around the circle, changing direction in response to clear eye contact, and being ready to respond to unexpected changes
  • Passing multiple contrasting sounds around the circle in opposing directions, first with eyes open, then with eyes closed.

We introduced our framing theme of human rights, and children’s rights in particular. We asked the children if they could think of any human rights, and their responses brought about some clarification of what is meant by rights, and how they are different to wants, or likes.

Then we started on some music-making. We had the idea of presenting children’s rights through the music in the context of a child’s childhood years, from birth through to the age of about 12 or so. Today we focused on the music to represent brith and the start of life.

We did this by playing around with the idea of breath and blowing. Marqy had brought in a pile of bamboo to use as drumsticks, but Tony the flautist suggested we could also blow it. We distributed the bamboo around and got the kids to try blowing and making a sound and this was much more successful and achievable than blowing on the bottles that we had also gathered up and given out.

We divided half the group into little ensembles of four, and listened to the melodies that emerged when they blew their bamboo in turns. Tony learned these melodies on his flute and played alongside the groups, giving them a stronger musical context for their individual sounds.

We were in luck – the harmony suggested by the bamboo flute pitches could be matched by the diatonic notes of the Optimum Percussion Alto Chime Bars we have received from the wonderful people at Optimum as a donation to this project (thank you Optimum!). So while Tony got the Bamboo Boys going with their note-by-note melodies, I set up the other half of the group with the chime bars, one set working in C major, the other in an ambiguous D (using the open 5th D and A).

We also brainstormed words for a song. We asked the group to think of the life of a small baby – what does he or she need in order to survive? They wrote sentences about this life, and these became a song that could be accompanied by the bamboo/chime bar melodies/chords:

Bainhira hau moris apaa ho amaa kous hau

(When I was born dad and mum cradle/cuddle me)

Hau ba vasina

(I go/went for injections)

No sira foo susubeen hau

(and they gave me milk)

Sira lori hau pasiar

(They took me for excursions)

Ema hotu hadomi hau

(Everybody loved me).

More music is planned for tomorrow. I’ve been here 8 weeks now.

And I’d love to add photos here – from the book-making workshop in Lospalos too – but I can’t get them to load for some reason. I’ll add them later. Rest assured it is all very photogenic.

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5 comments so far

  1. […] Then we started on some music-making. We had the idea of presenting children’s rights through the music in the context of a child’s childhood years, from birth through to the age of about 12 or so. Today we focused on the music to represent brith and the start of life. Read more…  https://musicwork.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/the-right-to-play-%E2%80%93-first-workshop/ […]

  2. timothyjonesiswriting on

    i so much enjoy reading your blog posts, including today’s 11 dec. i wonder if you can imagine how powerful your comments are, from so far away, and yet so immediate, even today’s news. your work is fascinating.thank you. TJ

  3. victoria Ryle on

    Hi Gillian,
    Finally managed to log on to leave a comment! So glad you’re finally on your way! I’m sure the frustrations are not yet over, but it all sounds amazing and I’m sure you’re on a roll now. Thank goodness Tony’s with you!
    Will write more now I’m signed up…
    Must go Vx

  4. […] can read the descriptions I wrote at the time about the project’s creative process here (Day 1), here (Day 2), here (Day 3) and here (Day 4). Otherwise, please have a look at these two […]

  5. Ana Paula Guterres on

    Congratulations! Well done!! L loved it, I love to see children in Timor Leste especially in my home town have the opportunity to explore, expressing n having fun trough music/been provided appropriate instruments, it’s good idea to introduced some new instruments to our children too. Please send my hugs to our beautiful children in Baucau!! For those who create this wonderful idea wish you all the best!!


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