Episode 110: Rhythm is Gonna Get You
When the Greenies’ instruments get sent to the wrong address, the percussion group STOMP shows them how they can play with every day objects to create music.
Featured Art: Percussion
The Greenies approach the opening of their musical still without a big dramatic finale: that’s where percussion enters the picture, courtesy of STOMP.
Percussion is one of the oldest known forms of music. It can be traced back to ancient times, and its usage is wide and varied across different cultures. Drums could be used for music during festivals, or as a rhythmic beat for marching and rowing, or scaring away spirits. Humans have been banging things together for just about as long as we can remember.
Research suggests there may be a scientific reason for that. Neuroscientists report that certain parts of our brains are stimulated when we experience rhythm, areas similar to those that light up when we experience joy. Some researchers speculate it may be the predictability of the rhythm that makes us so happy, whereas others believe it’s because humans love the chance to dance. But regardless of exactly why we love it, we know humans are programmed to love a good beat.
One of the reasons percussion is such an old art form is because it’s so easy to produce. STOMP helps the Greenies understand that almost anything can be used for percussive purposes – cans, tables, even our bodies. Snap your fingers or tap your foot: that’s percussion!
STOMP is the international sensation that unites dance, comedy and music into a theatrical whirlwind you’ll never forget. It is playing around the world: at New York City’s Orpheum Theatre, London’s Ambassadors Theatre, and on North American and European tours.
Creators and co-directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas have created a theatrical experience like no other – playful, thrilling and exploding with energy. STOMP has hammered out a universal theatrical language of rhythm, movement, comedy and dance, bringing everyday objects like Zippo lighters, plastic bags, bin lids – even the kitchen sink – to life along the way. It’s the event that showed the globe that even the most ordinary objects can do extraordinary things – in the right hands.
STOMP takes the familiar – newspapers and dustbins – and uses them to create a rhythmic universe exploding with energy, where anything can be turned into a beat, and anybody can pound a pattern! From its humble beginnings in the UK, STOMP has grown into a phenomenon that has the world dancing to its beat. It’ll set your toes tapping and your pulse racing.
In addition to the stage shows, STOMP has been an overwhelming success marked by rave reviews, numerous honors including Olivier and Drama Desk Awards, an Academy Award nomination, four Emmy nominations and an Emmy Award. STOMP has become such an identifiable part of popular culture that it has been parodied on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons, and has been an answer on Jeopardy! Critics and audiences have raved: “STOMP is a sure-fire crowd pleaser with a rock-and-roll heart,” says The New York Times. “STOMP finds beautiful noise in the strangest places,” says USA Today. STOMP's official YouTube Channel can be found here.
The Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) enriches the lives of young people and their families through world-class training in and exposure to the arts. HSA offers its students the freedom to find and develop the artist and citizen within themselves in an environment that emphasizes rigorous training, stimulates creativity, builds self-confidence, and adds a dimension of beauty to their lives. HSA accomplishes this through on-site instruction, partnerships with NYC schools, community performances and family programming, and by providing workspace for aspiring artists. HSA stands apart among the premier arts institutions in New York City, as the sole provider of quality arts education in four disciplines - music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. Visit the HSA's official YouTube channel here.
Warm Up Activity: Name Game
Percussion and rhythm is all about movement – so Ms. Julie starts off percussion day with the Name Game! The name game is a classic summer camp icebreaker, an introduction game for learning names while having fun. It’s a simple two-step process: say your name, then follow it with a motion! As each person adds themselves to the circle, a very unique dance is formed.
For example, Ms. Julie starts us off by raising her hands in the air to accompany her name. Next, Gus adds a rhyme:
I got the moves, I got the name,
I’m makin up moves to go with my game!
The Greenies go all the way around, each adding a motion. Hank spreads his arms out wide, Spike wiggles, and Riley puts her hands under her chin, all while adding their names. Go all the way around the circle, adding a motion for each person. That way, you and the Greenies can work on memory while also loosening up with their own different motion. What motion would you do?