“The Rhythms of Life:” Integrating Percussion with Movement

 

Iona Senior Services welcomed AFTA teaching artists-in-training Chris Brown and Manny Arciniega to lead a program called, “The Rhythms of Life,” which features musical technology and themes new to AFTA programming.

Chris and Manny began the program by playing for Iona’s older adults as they walked into the room to join; Chris strummed a melody on the bass while Manny accompanied on percussion. To formally begin the program, Chris and Manny played Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.” The room swayed side to side and seniors clapped their hands to the beat of Chris’ slow-jazz bass performance.

The program focused on rhythm and layering ‘loops’ to create textured music. To illustrate this, Manny assigned participants different movements and instruments to play at certain parts of a song. First, the participants practiced making a rhythm using motions with their hands and arms, such as moving them up and side, patting their stomachs, and even flapping like a bird, as suggested by a participant.

Later, Manny passed percussion instruments, including the maracas and the tambourine, throughout the room to be played in harmony with one another. The participants were split into sections, where one group would play their instrument first while another group would play right after them. Manny’s instruction led to the room playing in a loop, making a continuous rhythm that repeated itself. Chris demonstrated a similar ‘loop’ by recording a bass line for the audience and playing over the recording to add new elements to it. The final product resulted in a beautifully synchronized percussive accompaniment to Chris’ bass line to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.”

Chris and Manny concluded their day at Iona Senior Services by playing “Happy Birthday” to celebrate a participant’s special day. The room sang along together, applauding Chris and Manny’s musical performance and program as it came to an end.

We’re excited to offer this stimulating new music program to our partners this fall.