• Formation Zone, University of Plymouth
• Du Fort Associates
• Ocean Audio Studios
With over 40 years of experience as a professional musician and an educator, our Director Caroline Stephenson has a life-time of experience engaging with rhythms!
Early in her career, as Head of Woodwind in Waltham Forest, she helped to establish a student jazz orchestra and became fascinated by the beat element in jazz. At the same time she was exploring rhythmic elements of classical music, as a conductor. Both of these strands were fully developed in the MA that she took at the University of Denver, Colorado and continued when she was musical director of East Cornwall Bach Choir, Youth Choir and orchestra. Her programmes were always full of ‘spicy’ rhythms, ranging from Stravinsky and Bartok, to contemporary American composers like Maslanka or little known Flamenco-influenced Spanish music.
At the age of 9 Caroline’s son, Thomas, showed exceptional rhythmic ability and challenged his mum saying ‘your sense of beat is rubbish!’ Determined to rise to his challenge, from that day her interest was stepped up to an even higher level. In 2001 and 2002 she received funding to establish 8 centres of training across her home county of Cornwall. These Junior Band children aged 8 – 12 engaged with rhythms in numerous ways, including drumming, dancing & D J ing.
Having visited Kenya in 2002, the following year Caroline started exploring African rhythms and toured UK schools giving workshops with the Zimbabwean band, ‘Chimanimani’. She began to invent more games, to include drumming & dancing, that would engage both children and adults (who otherwise would never seek or have access to more formal music training).
WORKING WITH CHIMANIMANI DRUMMER AND DANCER.
By 2005 at the Eden Project her times table activities and literacy games, such as Punctuation Rap were showcased (under the Junior Band or JB brand name) and reviewed in the Daily Telegraph. ‘children improve their Maths and English by tapping their feet and clicking their fingers, and even performing rap songs’ ‘having subjects drummed in may be just what children need!’
Ever since that special day at Eden Project Caroline has been running rhythmic learning projects and gathering evidence of the benefits. In 2016 there was a school holiday project for 9 families, in which parents and grand parents played Rhythm Fun games and experienced the many benefits of team work, concentration, speech and language development & music reading skills.
Yes we had lots of fun yesterday. Here's a rough record:
Took a while to get the idea of listening first, eyes shut helped. Then playing with me, wanted to watch me, repeated three or four times but he soon got the idea and tapped in time -hooray! I re-ran them in different order and he got it. So we had stars - he wanted one for each column which we did while talking about the headings again and how I thought he had managed, ie reflecting on the process.
Then Luke wanted to be the leader and make up rhythms, so I listened with eyes shut and then played along. His were a bit loose and sprawly but the idea made it fun.