In May 2021 we were invited to work with Year 6 pupils at Ysgol Twm O’r Nant (Welsh medium primary school) in Denbeigh North Wales. N’famady Kouyaté delivered several online percussion and music sessions via Zoom and Teams in partnership with local artist Tara Dean.
35 children aged 10-11 took part in this mixed medium project, participating in percussion activities online using school instruments, and visual arts activities in the classroom. N’famady demonstrated traditional West African instruments – djembe and balafon and the children also benefitted from the opportunities to ask questions and to engage in cultural sharing.
The children explored rhythm and patterns, making a collection of charcoal ‘sound drawings’ in response to their percussion sessions and while listening to recorded balafon music played by N’famady – collaboratively mark making and sharing, passing their drawings to the person next to them, engaging in movement and celebrating music connecting them together.
This naturally progressed to starting to layer the rhythms and adding song – developing a call and response section with the children – N’famady would do a call in his first language (Susu) and the pupils would respond in Welsh – creating a meeting of cultures across the internet. N’famady explained the meaning of the words he sang to them so that the children could develop an appropriate answer to fit with the melody and rhythm. This technique complimenting the layering the children were developing in their print work in the class.
At the end of the project the Year 6 children involved shared the drumming they learnt with the Year 5 children and they did sound drawings along to it, passing on their learning to the next Year 6!