With the schools all closed, we at Masamba are allowed some time to gather our thoughts and prepare for the next season.
Some of you will be aware that we have been involved in the Deep River Rock ‘Thirst For Better‘ programme, whereby charities such as ourselves, can raise funding to support their activities. The aim of our involvement in Thirst for Better has been to build up a stock of instruments, specifically for use with Early Years learners, i.e. children between the age of 0 and 6. We have increasingly being asked to work with junior and senior infants classes in schools, and we became aware that our regular workshop materials were not quite suitable for these younger age groups.
To deliver a better service for these younger ‘customers’, we decided to take a three-pronged approach:
(i) Engage in training to work specifically with this age group – we have been lucky enough in this regard, in that the four Dublin local authorities have teamed up, to investigate and resource this work, under the banner ‘Exploring and Thinking‘. We have been involved in some excellent training and discussion groups under this initiative, and it has allowed us to clarify our thinking about what might work with Early Years musicians, and generated some really good contacts that we can rely on for information and support.
(ii) Develop a curriculum, specifically targeted at young learners. This is a process of taking elements of the training, combining them with elements of the workshops we already deliver, and creating all new percussion-based activities that Early Years learners can both interact with and enjoy. Our current aim is to develop 8 week blocks of activities for both junior and senior infants groups, and we are currently about 50% though this process.
(iii) Build a bank of instruments that we can use to deliver sessions with Early Years learners. Masamba has always had a policy of only using professional-level instruments for our workshops, and through our partnerships with several instrument companies, especially Contemporanea Instrumenton Musicais and the provision of funding through agencies such as the Arts Council/Music Network Instrument Capital Scheme, we have been fortunate enough to build up a great stock of workshop instruments which we can use with both children and adults. However, some of these instruments are not suitable for use by very young children, some had to have a re-think. We have identified a selection of instruments that young children can hold, grip, play and enjoy!
Needless to say, all of these things cost money, and money is always in short supply. The Deep RiverRock ‘Thirst for Better’ initiative allowed us to create a small, but growing fund to buy these instruments, and eventually be able to deliver classes with up to 30 children, whereby everyone gets hands on experience with real musical instruments.
So far, we have raised a little over €500 of our €1,000 target, and we have roughly one month to go. Without jumping the gun, we know that we will have a budget, so in order to be in a position to roll out this programme for September 2019, we decided to go ahead and buy some ‘tester’ instruments, that we can use to finalise our choice as to what is most suitable set of gear we can provide within a limited budget. So this week, we got our first few bits and pieces to road test – after a long year of teaching, a bit of ‘retail therapy’ feels good!
As mentioned above, there is still time to support us with our #thirstforbetter campaign. Buy a bottle of Deep Riverrock, strip off the label, and input the code at our page here: