The most recent CELT continuing professional development session involved something just that bit different and was run in collaboration with LUMS.
Annmarie Ryan from the department of Marketing had invited a colleague from Ireland, John Bowker, to visit Lancaster to work with her MA students. As part of this visit John also offered a workshop for any Lancaster staff interested in exploring group-work in a different setting. Learning to use the drums allowed participants to learn individual skills of drumming rhythms and then co-operate to put these together to produce a complex polyrhythm.
No previous musical experience of any kind was required, which was a relief to some in the group. John set the group at ease from the start and introduced some basic “notes” that would be used for the rest of the workshop. He then introduced some more complex rhythms using these notes, whilst reassuring us that “being in the bluff zone” when we got lost was still contributing to the group sound and so not worry about it.
The culmination of the workshop was to put the three rhythms we had learned together to produce a polyrhythm – a clear and audible demonstration of the whole being more than the sum of the parts.
The workshop concluded with an agreement to participate in an LUVLE site to share the insights we had gained from the workshop.
I have since bumped into a few people from the workshop who I would not otherwise know, and we have greeted each other with big smiles and reminiscences about the fun we had. As a different and enjoyable way to forge links, meet and start to work with new people, I think it was well worth trying something so different.
Annmarie has written about this method as a form of experiential learning, which for the last 30 years has been championed as an effective route to energising, catalysing and facilitating learning in universities, especially in such areas as organisational behaviour and management. Experiential learning theory also provides a strong backdrop for allowing concrete experience to enhance theoretical, transferable knowledge. Full reference: Moore S and Ryan A , 2006, 'Learning to play the drum: an experiential exercise for management students', Innovations in Education and Teaching International, vol 43(4), pp 435-444
More about John Bowker: John has been teaching the hand drum in Ireland for nearly 15 years and has become Ireland's most experienced and well know drum circle facilitator. Originally from Manchester, John also works with a number of groups in the UK.
John has worked successfully with many varied groups and communities and holds regular weekly classes in 3 cities in Ireland as well as regular weekend workshops at the Boghill Centre, Kilfinore, Co, Clare, Ireland.
He is the author of "The drum handbook" and has a drum practice CD available; 'Heartbeats'