Those unforgettable days in education

1st December 2000 at 00:00
Jeff Reynolds, teacher atRolls Crescent School, Manchester, which has a reputation as a centre of excellence in dance and music "Last year we had a music and dance project with the Halle Orchestra based on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1913). It took place over two or three months and members of the Halle came about every three weeks. They provided the stimuli.

One or two musicians would come and play and talk, for example, about the feel of the piece, showing us how it had sharp and jagged movements, which was very unusual at the time it was written.

The children and I then had to draw on what we heard and saw and develop a piece of our own lasting about four to five minutes. We used steel pans, African drums and a range of percussion instruments and then made up a dance to go with it.

We practised for an hour every week for three months. It was incredibly hard work, often very frustrating - soetimes I thought I was mad to do it - and a little bit scary because the culmination was to be a theatrical production of music and dance performed in a public venue before an audience of around 300 people. But it was so much worth it. I had goosebumps all through the performance.

The children really worked as a team and co-operated really well with me and each other. Their will to do me proud was very moving. They gave a fantastic performance that was a credit to themselves and the school. People were astounded: it was such quality work.

It made me realise that children could achieve a fantastic standard of work. Also that, even though I may not be the best dancer and musician in the world - just the opposite: I've had no training as a dancer or musician and had no previous experience of teaching dance or music - I could help them develop the skills to make them good dancers and musicians."


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