Music, Percussion, Rhythm, Education and the Olympics

Thinking back to the Olympics opening ceremony last Friday evening it occurs to me that – as good as it was as a spectacle – the most important element for me was the music. The same was true for the Beijing opening ceremony four years ago. The opening sequence of drumming by those 2,008 drummers playing with power and precision was riveting and totally captivating. “Fierce precision”, said the NBC commentator.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iySCiDaaldw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOijH0xinTE&feature=fvwbrel

“To welcome friends from far away . . . Isn’t that a good thing?” – Confucius

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Kodo – my favourite Japanese drummers –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zSa6Zz2Zrs&feature=related

It was good to see drumming featured so prominently in the London opening ceremony. Percussion is so elemental and so stirring. Quality drums and other percussion instruments are no longer expensive, and it’s a crime if all children and young people are not given regular opportunities to use them and to express themselves through percussion-based music.

Every teacher can do this. Show a group of children this video of the Kodo drummers, hand out some drums, and the children will do the rest for themselves, working in pairs, small groups and eventually larger groups.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOUi5fDm0KE&feature=related

As someone commented on this video –

“Music’s always the best with spirit, soul and body.”

STOMP

Speaking of inexpensive musical instruments, you can try this at home – though we recommend doing it in the horizontal plane rather than the vertical –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzbBKusq0iE&feature=related

Arguably you can’t play any instrument or any music properly until you’ve developed a sense of pulse and rhythm, and a sense of timing – plus a sense of playing in time with other musicians. STOMP shows how this can be done using just about anything from dustbins to broomsticks, basketballs and saucepans.

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There are some things you can’t teach – though they can be learned.

  • A sense of rhythm.
  • The feeling of community arising from shared artistic experiences.
  • The sense of elation arising from collaborative musical and artistic experiences.
  • The feeling of self-confidence and self-worth gained from successful artistic practice.

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For parents of children who aren’t currently having a great deal in the way of musical experiences in school, here’s a question to ask yourselves, and also to ask their school – Would you rather your children grow up with a sense of rhythm and feeling able to play at least percussion with others – or would you rather not? Doubtless there are those who will say they’re willing to sacrifice anything as long as their children achieve high marks in examinations and tests. In which case we can only point out that it’s nonsense to believe that it has to be either/or. Becoming rich in mind, body, spirit and soul can only benefit children – and make it more likely that in the long run they will do well academically.

…………………………………………

It’s a beautiful, sunny morning in London and I’m feeling pleased for all the non-British visitors and the Olympic athletes, since whatever happens during the rest of the fortnight they’ve been able to experience during their first few days here what we Brits have failed to experience so far this summer – warmth and sunshine and the opportunity to stroll and sit in the open air untroubled by wind or rain. Although showers are forecast for this afternoon!

Later on today we’ll post some more thoughts on education, written anonymously by a thoughtful young man who has some anxiety about how his teachers might react if they were able to read his innermost thoughts and feelings about his experiences of the school system.

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Read about how Mike Oldfield came to play such a prominent part in the London opening ceremony here –

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/london-2012/9426868/Mike-Oldfields-strange-journey-from-Tubular-Bells-to-London-2012.html

He was initially unconvinced by Danny Boyle asking him to perform a “swing” version of Tubular Bells but you can see from this video that it works really well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztCArbSzguo

Other brilliant elements that feature in this video are the salute to Great Ormond Street Hospital for children (GOSH), to the National Health Service of Great Britain, to children’s love of literature (with JK Rowling reading aloud from Peter Pan), and to children’s love of scary monsters.

And if some of the dancers taking part look somewhat larger than the usual dancers we see on our screens that’s because they’re not professional dancers. They’re real health service workers who put in hundreds of hours of voluntary practice in order to take part in this spectacle.

Loved the squadron of Mary Poppins’ arriving to chase away the monsters!

Tubular Bells

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN9p-XCCRwU&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok7WG_Nikvw

An interesting comment on YouTube –

“Got this album in September 1977 when I was 15 and all the kids on my estate came round to our house just about every night to listen to it. My mum got so cross as she had to miss her nightly soaps to listen to this “modern” music…………Still awesome!”

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Final thoughts on the music of the opening ceremony.

Using the track Eclipse from the Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon album was inspirational. As was Dizzee Rascal‘s “Bonkers” – truly the voice of urban (especially East London) youth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eclipse_%28Pink_Floyd_song%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Side_of_the_Moon
http://www.metrolyrics.com/eclipse-lyrics-pink-floyd.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlHRSpFGtQk

http://www.metrolyrics.com/bonkers-lyrics-dizzee-rascal.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISy0Hl0SBfg

The Arctic Monkeys were fantastic – everything a young rock band should be, belting out “I Bet You Think You Look Good on the Dance Floor” which is clever, wry and funny, as well as a real blast, which is what a lot of Brits would aspire to being. This was also the right band to recall the Beatles, through performing a very good version of Come Together, which I’m sure John Lennon would have felt very happy with. Sorry to say they did a better recollection of the Beatles than Sir Paul did with his sing-along “Hey Jude” later in the show.

I bet that you look good on the dancefloor
I don’t know if you’re looking for romance or
I don’t know what you’re looking for
I said I bet that you look good on the dancefloor
Dancing to electro-pop like a robot from 1984
From 1984

Oh, there ain’t no love, no
No Montagues or Capulets
Just banging tunes in DJ sets and
Dirty dancefloors
And dreams of naughtiness.

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The view from the U.S.

“The U.K.’s rock and pop big guns featured heavily in an edgy and quintessentially British 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, as the London Games began with a bang.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/british-music-takes-center-stage-at-olympics-opening-ceremony-20120728#ixzz220IgO9yI

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According to the New Musical Express,

The soundtrack to the London Olympics’ Opening Ceremony will go on sale to the general public at midnight. The music from the ceremony will be released digitally and will also feature new tracks by Underworld who worked on the soundtrack to the event.

Titled ‘Isles Of Wonder: Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games’, the album will see a physical release on August 6. The event takes its title from the “Isles of Wonder” speech in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which Olympic director Danny Boyle cited as the inspiration behind the event.

 http://www.nme.com/news/dizzee-rascal/65184

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Talking of drummers and drumming, this sounds like something out of the ‘2012‘ TV spoof documentary –

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/olympics-organizers-ask-keith-moon-to-play-closing-ceremony-20120413

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAVckOrYTqk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeVcz6bi90Y

GF

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About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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