A special session with the Coffee Choir

This week we had a special session with the Coffee Choir, led by a young man from Brazil called Pedro Consorte.  He has worked with ‘Stomp’ and is into percussion, including body percussion!  Fiona knew of him because he shared a flat with her son.  Having seen the YouTube clips but been reassured by Fiona that he would match the session to our (age! and) abilities I was not really sure what to expect.

I have to say that he was impressive – he managed to get a load of chattering ladies quiet and concentrating for an hour and a half without raising his voice!  OK , so he started by using a standard teacher trick of going silent and not starting or continuing speaking until we were all quiet and listening, but he held our concentration from then on.  I didn’t think it was possible to get us all so quiet!

He started by getting us to take off our shoes (if we wanted, and it was a warm day so most did) and shut our eyes.  He then led us to relax but to be aware of our bodies – breathing, relaxed jaw and neck etc. – and also of what was around us – mostly what we heard, but also what we were touching, where we were in the room etc.  It was very relaxing and if he hadn’t continued talking I think I could have fallen asleep!  Still with our eyes and mouths shut we had to produce a note and listen to the rest of the group so that our note blended with the rest.  We were then encouraged to change notes, to open our mouths to project our note, to change the volume but to continue blending with everyone else.  We also had to try to feel the vibration of the note in our bodies. (OK, I failed on that bit!)  I think the idea was to make us aware of ourselves as part of a group, so we work together.

That part took about 45 minutes, but it didn’t seem more than a few minutes!  Pedro then gave us a demonstration of his “body percussion” – fun to watch.  He then gave lots of rhythms to copy – some clapping, some vocal sounds, some tapping feet or fingers on arms or hands on legs etc.  I don’t think he ever actually said copy them – just made it obvious that we should.  They weren’t  too difficult and there was a considerable variety.

We were already sitting in a circle around the room and Pedro joined us and he started clapping a rhythm, which he kept up and then going round the circle we had to join in with clapping our own (simple) rhythm which would fit in with everyone else’s and which we could keep up.  He then split the room into quarters and each quarter in turn continued while the others stopped – and then had to re-start with the same rhythm they had used before.  He then did the same but got only 2 to 4 people to continue while the others stopped.  (At one stage I was one of only 2 clapping – very exposed!)  Good for getting and remembering rhythms and for listening to others and fitting into a group.

The final thing was where we had to make sounds like rain…..

Just as Pedro was drawing to a close, Q’s mobile went off – she was so embarrassed.  I can’t think of anyone in the group who would have been more embarrassed by it!  We just laughed and finished.

It was an interesting, different and enjoyable morning.  Glad I didn’t miss it.

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