Last week Drumroots were invited to lead an African djembe drumming session at the newly opened Green Acres social inclusion centre (part of Newall Green High School) in Wythenshawe. As we entered the brand new, very modern looking and spacious building the first thing we noticed was the smell of chocolate cake! Yes, the children had been working hard that morning baking the most delicious smelling cakes…
As we loaded the drums into the classroom and set them up in a circle we could see the children were making good use of the outdoor badminton facilities. A little unsure of what to expect; we were assured by one of the teachers that there would be no behaviour problems at all.
We invited the 12 children into the drum circle and started with a few questions and to our pleasant surprise, between them they managed to name almost all of the countries in West Africa that the djembe drum comes from; a question that much older students, and sometimes even their teacher struggle with. As we started playing the djembe with some warm ups and games we soon realised that we had here some very talented players in the circle. We moved on to a traditional piece with three different accompaniments being played at the same time then added a break and finally took it in turns to do some improvising. Not only were the children good at holding a steady rhythm but were great at expressing themselves through improvisation.
We left feeling that this was one of the best sessions that we had done in a long time, not just because of the high level of skill of some of the players but because of the overall attention, energy and enthusiasm that we got from the children.
A big thank you to all the staff at Green Acres and I hope we can return again soon.