Working in schools and the community is a priority for us. Both Totó la Momposina and Asere are used to working with children. The experience for students, teachers and musicians is always energising and inspiring. This is an area we shall be concentrating on more in the future as well as developing new ideas. Asere, for example, are keen to work with the elderly and perform a programme of music for Teadances with a latin flavour.
ASERE – Educational workshops
Asere are a group of top musicians from Cuba. They play a range of traditional and contemporary Cuban musical styles from cha cha cha and boleros to salsa and nueva trova (ballads). Asere tour regularly in the UK and are experienced at leading workshops and collaborative performances in schools and the wider community. The following is a format Asere use in primary and secondary schools based on a day spent with the children. These ideas can be expanded into a project lasting up to a week or equally reduced into a shorter introductory session tailored to the needs of an individual school. Introductory performance. am. Asere present a short performance with three to four songs reflecting different styles from their repertoire. The musicians and their instruments are introduced and during the performance they encourage participation with chorus singing, handclaps to a simple rhythm and basic dance steps. The dynamic rises from a mid tempo piece to a fast rhythm and then finishes on a peaceful note with a quiet finale ensuring the children calm down from the excitement before returning to their classrooms. The performance lasts 30 minutes and ensures that the whole school, or a large group, get the chance to experience the atmosphere of a show whilst also receiving some informative comment and the opportunity to participate. Workshops and collaborative performance. am and pm. The musicians then split up and lead workshops simultaneously in voice, percussion, brass and woodwind and strings (violins, guitar, bass). The singing and percussion groups can be up to 15 children of mixed ability, the instrumentalist groups up to 10 with at least a basic knowledge of their instrument. In morning and afternoon sessions the groups work on parts to the same song, join together for a rehearsal and then present the piece to the school at the end of the day in a collaborative performance with Asere. During the day time is also set aside for non-musical discussion so that the children can ask questions about Cuban culture and the lives of the musicians generally. The musicians also ask the children questions and explore common ground.
Comments from previous work in schools
The sense of occasion that Asere brought to the school was really powerful. The children were so excited to have professional musicians coming in to perform and especially to get the chance to play with them; there was a real buzz in the whole school. The musicians were friendly, enthusiastic and laid back. Their rapport with the children was great and they were approachable and amenable to the bombardment of questions.The musical content was pitched well for the age and ability of the children, strong and accessible musical material used. It was a great idea to work with one song and prepare for a concert. Working towards a musical performance helped with the children’s motivation and confidence and esteem. All the children rose to the occasion, the audience participation and atmosphere was great. Tom Andrews. Director Music for Change. Educational foundation, Canterbury. Thanks so much for coming to Parkwall with Asere today. Both staff & children really enjoyed themselves. I thought the scene at the end of the day with the band & children performing together was fantastic. Nick Southgate. Headteacher. Parkwall Primary, Cadbury Heath. Bristol. We all thought it was a really fantastic experience for the children – to develop an awareness of a culture other than their own and to be in the presence of such skilled and professional musicians! Anne Bull. Headteacher. Weston All Saints Primary. Bath. It is always an exciting opportunity for the students to experience live music . As a school we were extremely honoured to host Asere. Not only did they give a musical performance of exceptional quality but in their workshops brought to life a latin tradition that we as Western music teachers will never be able to attain. Mark Fiddler. Head of Music, Belper school.