We are mega excited to have Kofi Kunkpe return for another season of Drumming Workshops, and we are delighted to welcome Appiah Anan who is an African Dance specialist and musician. ‘The rhythm of life is a powerful beat’, and we could hear the drum’s invigorating vibe right across the school. We feel very lucky to have ‘snuck in’ 2 days of drumming and dance before lockdown, and I’m so happy that everyone had an opportunity to participate.
The workshops were bursting with energy as Kofi’s charisma and wit engaged the students in building routines of drumming patterns. Kofi’s objective was to teach every Home-group their full drumming routine in the first session, and then refine and polish the routine over the next 3 sessions to a performance level. I was immensely proud of how focussed and ‘on task’ the students were. For the older students, this was familiar territory, but unfolding at a condensed and faster pace, and they matched Kofi’s expectations all the way.
Appiah used the same approach as Kofi and moved the students quickly through their dance steps as Kofi drummed dance rhythms. The variety of steps, at first, appeared simple enough but were actually quite challenging. Appiah encouraged the students to actively use their whole body in the dance so that the energy and rhythm of the drums were reflected in their movements. Even within a short dance session, it was great to observe how Appiah and the drum beat allowed the students to loosen up and engage with movement more freely whilst improving their co-ordination skills.
In contrast to the high energy of the drumming and dance, Kofi and Appiah also wove some gentle contemplative moments into their sessions. Kofi has always been able to lure the students into his story telling by playing magical cascades of melody on his Kalimba, a thumb piano, which Kofi introduced as his 2022 iPod – but even better! Playing his traditional xylophone, Kofi accompanied Appiah as Appiah played the Kora, an African harp. It’s tinkling sound and modal tuning had the effect of a musical hug: just beautiful! There has been a tradition of harp playing in Africa since the 1500s.
We feel very fortunate to have started our program with Kofi and Appiah. Having rescheduled twice due to lockdowns, we will reschedule the remainder of the workshops, and in the meantime we can work on the routines during Lockdown through Seesaw and in music time at school.
Thank you to everyone who has supported this program and congratulations to the students for an awesome start to the workshops. It is a privilege to participate in all the Home-group sessions, and especially to see the growth in skills and coordination of those students who are benefiting from working with Kofi and a dance specialist for a second or third time during their time at PHPS.
I look forward to engaging with the students online, to returning to onsite learning where the music and the beat are live (!) and getting back into the groove with Kofi and Appiah. Take care everyone.