Body percussion workshop „Body as an instrument“

Body percussion and vocal workshop for everyone interested in developing music skills and creativity

Body percussion is a technique of using our body as a percussive instrument: learning different ways to clap, snap, thump and stomp, and also making unusual sounds we can play with our hands, mouth, fingers, etc. During the workshop „Body as an instrument“ we put the focus also on techniques of breathing and singing, as this is an instrument we always have handy with us and which we can use in any moment.
Music aspects are monophonic and polyphonic singing (two or more voices) and rhythm; body awareness is gained in three different bilateral orders (right and left, upper and lower limbs, front and back) by applying different body music types: static, semi-static and dynamic. If the participants have music education, more complex compositions can be achieved.
The workshop is conceived for everyone: people with no music education are welcome, as well as one that have it. Everyone has a sense of rhythm and music, because we have an everyday experience of it: heartbeat, breathing, footsteps. When you speak, your voice has its rhythmics and melody. So we learn what we already knew, or rather, we return to the knowledge we had. Every participant can execute a task according to his abilities and this way improve his set of skills and understand how to perform more complex tasks. Since we learn to overcome mistakes and to carry on doing the exercise in the group, we also learn to overcome the biases as „I don’t know how to sing“, „I don’t feel rhythm“, „I can’t do it“ and change the way we think and behave also in our daily life.
This way of work is an art therapy, a unique anti-stress program. Workshop as a concept is a small world for itself: everybody is equal and they participate and function by rules of a healthy group; everyone feels safe and can achieve personal development. The workshop is conceived to satisfy different needs of modern people on multiple levels: the participants relax and plunge into the exercises, forgetting about everyday problems and develop essential skills: concentration, coordination and synchronization of movement and voice, memory, dexterity, sense of space. It develops intense activity in our own, inner, and also in outer space, with the group of workshop participants, with whom we share mutual rhythm and melody. One of the workshop goals is to expand the „territory“ of attention and multitasking ability, for during exercises there are set tasks and other in which participants improvise freely, like walking through space and meeting and influencing each other. That is why this is not just a music workshop, but it approaches the whole being of the participant and stimulate creativity through execution of complex tasks.
Coordination of different actions: clapping, snapping fingers, singing or speech, movement in space, direction of eyes and gaze demand that participants are present in the space and present moment. From simple tasks we build up to more complex, gradually adding steps, so participants do not feel discouraged and give up. Because the participants ARE the workshop! That is why every workshop is different. And what is similar is laughter, working in relaxed atmosphere, because executing complex tasks requires complete concentration and attention, and relaxed but active body and mind. So we always return to contact with our breath, which is the link to focus on the body and mind united and present.
And when we think about body and sound, we also think about dance and open body, free from tensions. We gain freedom through the process of learning, because we need to master the rules of the game; after that, the mind has a very serious and hard task, to understand that it needs to forget previously learned and let body do what it should!

„Body as an instrument“ workshop in social inclusion and way of overcoming of social and cultural differences

As participants in different projects with goal of implementation of art in social inclusion, leaders of the workshop have had experience of how „Body as an instrument“ workshops can significantly improve skills of some specific, unprivileged groups.
During years 2012/2014 we worked with children, protégés of Center for social work in Novi Sad, Serbia, children with disadvantaged backgrounds of age from 10 to 16 years of age, with different economic and social obstacles and educational difficulties: Roma children, facing discrimination because of their ethnicity, children with slight intellectual disabilities, with poor school performance, limited social skills and risky behaviors. After two years of continuous workshops (during school year), they acquired more competencies and skills: through public presentation, two theater plays with music and body percussion, they acquired more self-confidence and the skills of public performance. Working with peers, in group where there were often problems and aggression in relationship, they improved communication and cooperation, thus understanding the principle of functioning in a healthy environment and cohesive group. Their music skills improved to the level that a Roma boy enrolled in primary music school for drums and percussion, broadening his knowledge, allowing him to participate in lessons with excellent children of stable socioeconomic background with democratic education and further develop his social skills.
During participation in Except European project, years 2013/2015, body percussion and vocal workshops were chance for unprivileged youth from 14 to 19 years of age, to learn and improve the language they expressed their emotions, fears, views with: music and rhythm, a powerful channel of communication for young people. Songs young people developed and wrote lyrics were incorporated in different public performances, that dealt with themes like discrimination because of gender, age, sexual orientation, politics and nationalism, gender rights and roles. The play „Plum orchard“ was successfully performed in Hungary and Serbia in 2015 as street and public space theater, and also in schools, for youth of similar age.
In work with children with mental and physical disabilities with mixed difficulties (as autism, cerebral paralysis, microcephalia, hydrocephalia, George syndrome, hyperactivity) workshops were carried out with mixed group of participants: children with and without disabilities (siblings, neighbors and peers willing to cooperate). During the workshops in Montenegro in 2017 (Tivat, Budva) children improved their social skills, made a progress in learning and motoric movements doing music games, also stimulating creativity and practicing attention and concentration. Some of the techniques combined with body percussion and singing were theater games and exercises and storytelling, which created an open story where children could add their ideas and experiences. Application of the technique was, for example, a song „Happy birthday to you“ in sign language, which children learned to perform and incorporated in storytelling play they all participated in creating and performing.

The project “Crossover” has been implemented in 2018 in the partnership among the Institute for Culture of Vojvodina’s Slovaks, Elementary and Secondary Boarding School “Milan Petrović” and NGO “Open Circle Novi Sad”, within the framework of the Novi Sad 2021 Foundation’s program “Audience in Focus”. The project had an explorative, educational and inclusive character.

The project combined traditional musical creativity from this region with contemporary interpretation and arrangements. Musical and stage performance were conducted by body percussionists, choir and the orchestra. The orchestra uses special devices based on assistive sensory technology, eligible for persons with physical disabilities.

The project team congregated musical and stage performers of various genre perspectives who come from various backgrounds.

The aim of the project was creation of the original musical stage event including traditional songs of the  Vojvodina region performed:

  • vocally (choir conducted by Ljubomir Milanović ),
  • by body percussionists, so-called “The Rhythmic Choir”, which is trained and lead by the authorial tandem “Body as an Instrument”, Ana Vrbaski and Marko Dinjaški from NGO Open Circle Novi Sad. The Rhythmic Choir is inclusive and consists of people with and without disabilities.
  • by the orchestra “Good People” from Milan Petrović School, using the “Soundbeam” sensory technology device, led by musician Žarko Sebić.

The project has several stages, and the final performance, as a result of the preparation and workshop activities, was  publicly shown in the period October – December at several locations in Novi Sad, Irig, Lug, Vrdnik, Kisac and Sremski Karlovci.

The workshop „Body as an instrument“ implemented on work with different social and age groups helps fostering tolerance, multiculturalism, inclusion and overcoming of social and cultural differences.

Selected workshops

2019
  • workshops with „InnHarmony“ and „Stimm Lust“ choirs in Germany
  • workshop for performing artists, Udruga „Cirkultura“, Samobor, Croatia
  • workshop for people with sight disability, part of European project „Use sound to watch around“, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • workshop for youth, European Youth City Capital, OPENS, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • workshop for youth, artists from Switzerland and Serbia, European project „ConneXt“, Popovica, Serbia
  • workshop for adults, Coaching conference: Window into coaching in Zagreb, Croatia
2018
  • project „Crossover“, workshops and theater performance preparations and musical arrangements with people with dissabilities, project cooperation between Special school „Milan Petrovic“,  Vojvodina Slovak cultural institute and Open circle Novi Sad, Foundation Novi Sad 2021, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • workshop for children, XXVI Kotor children theater festival, Kotor, Montenegro
  • workshop for children and adults, Mountain Music Fest, Divcibare, Serbia
  • workshop for adults, Festival Piano city Novi Sad, Novi Sad
  • workshops for children, Festival of social circus, cooperation with Goethe Institute and Clowns without borders, Gaziantep, Turkey
2017
  • workshops for children, International School of Belgrade, Serbia
  • workshops for children, adults and children with special needs, project „All that my body can do“, cooperation with NGO SkArt, Tivat, Montenegro
  • workshops for children, Festival of ecological theatre for children, Backa Palanka, Serbia
2016
  • workshops for children, festival “Théâtre en fête”, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • workshop for adults, Street players’ festival, Novi Sad, Serbia
2015
  • workshop for youth, European project Except, Hungary
  • workshop for adults, Transparenze festival, Modena, Italy
2014
  • workshops for children and adults, Novi Sad, Serbia
2013
  • workshops for socially challenged children, Center for social work, Novi Sad, Serbia
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