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Pioneering

Kinetika Bloco Junior Summer School 2019

This week I immensely enjoyed taking part in the Kinetika Bloco Junior Summer School in Streatham Wells Primary School. It was four days of learning, playing and fun. As soon as we set foot in the building I noticed this sign /\ which was great because the theme for this years music is PIONEER.
When I say pioneer you may think of a beardy guy with a gun from the Wild Wild West or a really good sounding speaker to play your tunes on….

Shayanna explained to me that the sort of Pioneer that Bloco are celebrating this year is the musical sort who, like the beardy guy, explore new territories and, like the speakers, sound really great. Pioneers from the past and current music scene who have made changes and brought fresh ideas to music especially artists from or with a connection to the UK who represent the melting pot of cultures we have here.
So the three Pioneers we were celebrating this week and the scores we played were:
David Bowie – lets Dance
The Beatles – Come Together
and Fela Kuti – Who’re You
This was going to be a challenge, to learn three new pieces from scratch in three days and perform them on Day 4!

Day 1 – Let’s Dance

The incredibly stylish T Shirts!!!

When we arrived everyone signed in. I panicked that maybe I wasn’t going to get a new t-shirt which is very fashionable, especially because it matches my hair, but in the end my mum got me one and I put it on straight away. We then went out back to the playground and played Splat!! and got to know everybody.
Streatham Wells School was nice. It was an open plan school with barely any doors. They have a chicken coop with some silkies and other small bantam chickens (that I checked out with Blue) and a dog on the staff board called Mr Wells, who we met when he went for his daily walks. (I would have loved to go to a school like that) It had a friendly atmosphere and a kind caretaker.
The leaders in brass and woodwind where I was playing were Caroline, Aneira and Misha. Also helping us were Nathan, Rose and Ben, the young leaders, so we had a lot of help if we got stuck with anything.
When we got to our sections we got out our instruments and I started learning the bass line to Lets Dance. It was hard and the bass line structure was confusing to start with. This was bit like playing “Monkey Man” at the Croydon Bloco and took a bit of practice to get right.
But we knew it would be a successful venture when we were visited by the Ancient Greek Spirit of music Pan!

Oh No! That’s Rob from Youthsayers peering over his garden wall to find out where the music was coming from! He also turned up on day four to watch the show but this time he walked through the gate, Lol!
It was really fun to play with Teigan and Misha as we were holding down the bass line for the song. I enjoyed everyone getting together at the sharing session at the end and hearing how all the sections sound when they played together.
Although the bass line could be a bit confusing in the end Misha kept it lots of fun with his cheerful and funny personality, so it didn’t feel like such hard work.

Day 2 – Come Together

I was excited for the second day, especially because the day before Tamzyn had asked me to take some pictures as she wouldn’t be in that day so I brought in a camera and used the Bloco iPad and spent a little bit of time getting shots of people learning.
After playing our warm up games we broke into groups.
The music we were learning was Come Together by the Beatles. Today I did a bit of playing on the trombone (at a certain point there was not such a big need for bari on the bass line) So when we broke out into smaller section groups I was with the group learning the harmony on trombone.
This song was easier and when I did play the bari I got to play the low A note more, which I like.
Despite a bit of rain which meant we didn’t have as much outside time it was a really good day (except for the humongous mess everyone left in the hall after eating their lunches which meant that Shay had to give us a talk about being responsible for our own mess and leaving everything “spotless” after we finish eating)

Day 3 – Who’re You?

Today we did a song called Who’re You by Fela Kuti.
Although Fela was Nigerian he came to London and studied at Trinity College of Music between 1958 and 1961 during this time he formed the Koola Lobitos, highlife-influenced jazz band. He led them as a trumpet player during the underground London craze for African dance music in the 1960’s. He recorded his album called Fela’s London Scene, which this track is from in 1971 at Abbey Rd Studios where the Beatles recorded. This is why it is one of the songs played in this years Bloco if you were wondering. Lekan Animashaun played bari sax on the album!
I would say this was one of the hardest days due to difficulties with learning the piece, I really like the song because of its bass line and style but it was hard to get around because of the challenging structure…

The song was very repetitive and had some tricky timings. Because of this the leaders had to count the bars in the sharing session at the end of the day. Also, for me, a challenge was that the bass line on Part A was irregular, the fourth note was on an off beat. All the sections were having a bit of a struggle with this piece, but not to worry, we all worked it out in time for the performance.
Richie came along and took some photos of everybody hard at work and a big group shot in the playground which we will be sent to remember our time at Junior Summer School.

Feeling a bit tired by now – But still enjoying it.

Day 4 – Performance for Friends & Family

This day was fun because of the performance.
Everyone looked smart in their black t shirts and we wore white straw hats with the words “Bloco Pioneer” printed on the hat band, but as the bands had to be cut and wrapped to fit, a few of the hats say “Bloco Pioneer B/eer”! This year’s hats are cool, but I definitely loved last year’s military style caps ( I would love one for myself)
It was quite hot that day meaning we had to drink lots of water and we had a lot of practice to do before and after lunch to be ready to perform. Tamzyn brought a sousaphone for Teigan to play in the performance, this has been donated by the Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation from their instrument amnesty. It is enormous and loud and the bell is so big you can fit your head inside it! It’s not the kind of instrument young people would usually get the chance to play.
It was great to see so many friends and family turn up to support everyone that was performing and it felt like we put on a really good show.
Last but not least we had to pack away and tidy up (me and Teigan swept the hall but Misha had a bone in his leg so couldn’t help) We had to try and leave the school as we found it, as Shay would say “spotless”.

I really enjoyed taking part in Junior Summer School this year, despite the musical challenges, it went well and we managed to pull off a good performance at the end. My favourite bits were when we all took part in sharing sessions and gradually got to hear the pieces improving and coming together.
I think that taking part has improved my playing ability, especially using the low register keys.
I’d highly recommend coming to Kinetika Bloco Summer Schools to any young people who already like playing music, want to try playing music or who want to one day become a musician, as KB can help you improve with not only music and dance but give you an experience of what its like performing in front of lots of people helping you build up courage. Unlike school there’s nobody putting any pressure on you and it’s ok if you can’t do something there’s people who can help or even adapt the parts for you so you can play them. You can be relaxed, make new friends, have a laugh and build your skills.
The only thing that may need improving is Alana’s addiction to Babybels as she is always checking out my packed lunch for unattended cheese!
I am looking forward to getting back together with everyone from Junior Summer School to perform again at The Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre Riverside Terrace, Level 2 on Sunday 1pm.

I’ll let you know how it goes on Sunday, along with a run down of the musical Pioneers we’ll be playing scores from at the Senior Summer School that starts on Monday and gigs to look out for next week in my regular post tomorrow!

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