What I learned from Beatboxing with children

Indra

One of the very exciting things when teaching beatbox and vocal percussion workshops is that I always get to work with different groups of people. Sometimes  participants are professional singers, 
other times teachers or instrumentalists, or rappers.  And sometimes they are children. Yes you heard right. Over the last years there has been an increasing request for beatbox workshops for 
children. At first I wasn´t sure how to deal with it. After all most children don´t sing in pop rock jazz choirs, and no child has its own vocal band, and also most of them don´t know the a cappella scene. 
Only very few read or write music, even the ones who play drums.  
 
So questions started to arise in my head: What do I tell them? How can I approach this? Will they not be bored after a short while? How can I explain to them what each sound is and should it even 
matter how one notates them? Well, read here about my experiences:
 
      1.    I quickly noticed that children are playful and curious by nature. They want to explore things 
            themselves. So I decided to reduce the amount of time that usually spent on explaining and 
            talking. Instead I would demonstrate more sounds and let them watch me as I go. It was 
            fascinating to watch them observe me and instantly trying to mimic the sounds without me 
            even needing to  tell them to do so. All this also went without explaining a single thing.  
             
 
      2.    Instead of music notation I use big, laminated and colourful cards with the beatbox letters on 
            them like “B” for bass drum and “Pf” for snare drum. I made these Cards from an Austrian 
            Beatbox Book called “The Real Beatbox School” which focuses more on playfulness and 
            school classes whereas mine and Andis book “Beatbox Complete” focuses more on a cappella 
            groups, performing musicians and choirs. 
             
             
      3.    To explain them what each sound is I show them a BIG picture / poster or digitally projected 
            picture of a drum set, naming each of the single components and slowly demonstrating the 
            sounds to them. You can see that even the ones who are not aspiring drummers will 
            recognize the sounds and what they stand for. This experience of “Ah I´ve got it!” is exactly 
            what you´ll want and the more of these moments occur the better for you and the children. 
             
 
      4.    I considerably shortened the overall time for the workshops. With adults I sometimes to a 
            full day course with as much as six or seven hours. For children I settled for an hour with 
            breaks in between. Whenever they lose concentration that´s my cue to introduce a new 
            sound, game, or pattern.  
             
      5.    I usually end workshops by letting them try out Beatbox with a microphone over a PA. In 
            doing so they have the chance not only to play around but to really feel and hear the 
            difference in beatboxing both acoustically and amplified. 
 
 
Bottom line: Although I was at first scared of working with children, ultimately it has helped me improving because if you think about it the points I have listed also work for us adults. We also want 
to understand by observing, by trying out things ourselves and we want an easy to understand as well as practical approach without too many technical terms.

So: Thanks for teaching me kids!!

[written by Indra

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