Testimonials

Children’s Workshops

“We look forward to our drumming workshops every year. The children love them.  How can such fantastic music be composed in such a short time? Absolutely brilliant!”

Carmel Simmons, Colmore Junior School


“The best external activity brought into school.  A thoroughly enjoyable day.”

Newcastle-under-Lyme Junior School


“The comments from all our staff following your workshop sessions last half term were so positive and all were amazed at how much you were able to get the children to produce after such a relatively short time working with them – it was very impressive, and most importantly the children loved it.”

Pam Bowles, Marlborough Infants School


“Drumvoice provides weekly African drumming lessons for pupils in Years four, five and six, as well as a pioneering steady beat programme for children in Early Years called Ready Steady Drum! Sarah inspires maximum musical development in those she teaches. Her results are always outstanding.”

Chris O’Malley, Yardley Primary School


“Sarah has been running African drumming workshops at The Arthur Terry School, Sutton Coldfield, for seven years. This is a part of our annual Year 7 multi-cultural week and ties in well with the work students have been doing on pulse and rhythm earlier in the year. Sarah’s workshops are meticulously planned and give students the opportunity to experience a range of drumming styles and techniques. Our students have benefitted enormously from Sarah’s workshops and always thoroughly enjoy the experience.”

Chris Collet, The Arthur Terry School


“It was incredible to see how much the children could do after having only a very short session and fabulous to see the look of excitement and enthusiasm on the children’s faces. Sarah had a lovely manner with the children and we have already booked her for next year.”

Eastfield Infants & Nursery, St Ives


“What was especially great was the performance at the end of the day, and several other teachers who watched commented on how much they’d enjoyed it too. It was so lovely to hear all the children drumming, singing and clapping together, when often their singing is rather lack lustre!! We shall definitely be booking for you to come for another session next year!”

Cath Keast, Yorkmead Primary

 

Teacher Training:

“Thank you for an excellent, professional training day. Our department learnt so much and the feedback has been outstanding. We hope to get you back soon!”

Harjit Singh, Head of World Percussion, Birmingham Music Service


“Most of the participants said it was the best session of the day. They had fun, worked as a team and learned something new. It isn’t often that all those three things can be achieved at once. There was a great atmosphere and people are still talking about it a week later. It fitted beautifully with the theme of communication and has helped people to remember all the other training we had on the day. Thanks so much” 

Angela King, Head of Centre, Springfield Project


“I recently coordinated a training day for my music colleagues in our Catholic Secondary schools and was glad to be able to book Sarah and Claudia from Drumvoice for the day as they came highly recommended…and what a hit!

All my colleagues registered a 100 per cent satisfaction rate. The atmosphere was relaxed and supportive and it was smiles all around. Participants commented on the way they were encouraged from the word go and how their confidence grew throughout the day – brilliant not only for their musical skills but also for their own self-confidence and team working abilities. Not to mention coming away with a multitude of ideas for taking back to the classroom. To sum up…an absolutely fantastic session!”

Clare Cooke, Coordinator for Birmingham’s Catholic Partnership


“Sarah provided a great afternoon for our Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT’s) as part of a team building session. Our NQT’s receive a two week induction in July and one of the aims of the programme is to ensure they bond and therefore can support one another.

The session achieved this superbly! They were then able to present their musical pieces as part of our NQT Celebration Evening and secure audience participation. The NQT’s were amazed themselves at what they could achieve musically and how creative they could be when provided with such expert guidance. Some of them are now considering buying drums as a de-stress activity from the demands of teaching which is testimony to Drumvoice and the power of rhythm. It was a truly memorable experience for all of them.”

Diane Read, Assistant Headteacher/Senior Mentor to NQT’s, Arthur Terry School

 

Community Workshops:

“Sarah has excellent inter-personal skills. She maintains an unvaryingly positive atmosphere in her classes and there is always a strong forward momentum which is very compelling.”

Sarah Pickles, Senior Community Physiotherapist for South Birmingham NHS

“I would like to say a big THANK YOU for another brilliant drumming session. As you know everyone in the class thoroughly enjoys your visits and really looks forward to the sessions. Your skill at making it so much fun just makes us all want more!”

Gaile Walls, Multiple Sclerosis Exercise Class


“Thank you, Sarah, you’re a great teacher and it was a blast! Must invest in a drum now to give my poor slapped thighs a rest! 😉 xx”

Jo Holmes, Rainbow Music Camp enthusiast

Case Studies

Workshops for Children

Drumvoice is a big hit with Birmingham-based primary school…

DRUMVOICE first began its residency drumming programme with Yardley Primary School in 2007. Lead facilitator Sarah Westwood has been working closely with Chris O’Malley, the school’s music co-ordinator, to deliver inspirational music training to both students and staff.

Drumvoice provides weekly African drumming lessons for pupils in Years four, five and six, as well as a pioneering steady beat programme for children in Early Years called Ready Steady Drum!

“Children in years four, five and six are given the opportunity to join a drumming band and those who do are exposed to three full years of learning to play,” said Chris. “The drumming has been a wonderfully popular and accessible way to widen our children’s musical experience.”

He added: “Drumvoice is an outstanding educational service. Sarah inspires maximum musical development in those she teaches. Her results are always outstanding.”

We have also noticed a tremendous effect on participating children’s confidence and social skills. It gives children a great sense of pride and responsibility to be a member of a drumming band.”

The Birmingham-based school has had equally impressive results from piloting the Ready Steady Drum! programme.

Designed specifically for younger children, the focus is on developing their sense of steady beat, which has been shown to have a strong link to all-round achievement in school.

Under Sarah’s direction, the programme involves children in drumming, clapping and singing activities which all require them to listen, concentrate, watch and copy.

Teachers have been impressed with how the activities engage and focus children who normally struggle to take part and have reported an all round improvement in overall listening and speaking skills.

Speaking about the success of the Ready Steady Drum! programme, Chris commented: “The steady beat work carried out by Sarah is incredibly popular with both teachers and students. We are seeing a real improvement in basic hand/eye coordination and plan on continuing the programme in order to further develop its role in our school.”

Teacher Training:

‘Teach the Beat’ – Confidence with Percussion Instruments

Drumvoice teacher training hits the right note with Birmingham Music Service…

FOR THE past ten years Drumvoice has been called on by Birmingham Music Service for percussion-based training and workshops.

The Music Service enhances music education for all city pupils, through a programme of high quality support, delivered by specialist instrumental and vocal teachers and music therapists.

Harjit Singh, Head of World Music & Percussion at the Music Service, is responsible for ensuring his team of 25 teachers takes part in inspiring and motivational training days.

Harjit first enlisted the services of Sarah Westwood and Drumvoice a decade ago, and has continued ever since.

“I think the fact we come back every year speaks volumes about Drumvoice and their ability to inspire,” said Harjit.

“Sarah is an exceptional facilitator who has provided countless training sessions for us over the years. Her enthusiasm and skill has provided us with a valuable, hands-on insight into the world of African Drumming.”

Harjit, who has over 25 years working in community and mainstream education in Birmingham, believes African drumming and non-Western music is becoming more relevant to today’s schools because of the multicultural environment of most classrooms.

“Twenty years ago it would be unheard of to have African Drumming in schools but now it’s growing in popularity thanks to companies like Drumvoice.”

He added: “I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Sarah and her team to any of the schools we deal with – either for ongoing training or a one-off experience. I believe drumming and the way Sarah and her team deliver it, truly offers a wealth of benefits to a child’s educational development.”

‘Ready Steady Drum!’ – Steady Beat for Early Years

Glowing reports from Kings Norton Primary School for pioneering ‘Ready Steady Drum!’…

ENHANCED ‘communication, language and literacy development’ amongst children at a Birmingham-based primary school has been attributed directly to Drumvoice.

Teachers at Hawkesley Primary School in Kings Norton, were among the first recipients of Drumvoice’s Ready Steady Drum! Training and Mentoring programme.

Designed specifically for younger children, the focus is on developing their sense of steady beat, which has been shown to have a strong link to all-round achievement in school.

Under the direction of Sarah Westwood, the programme involves children in drumming, clapping and singing activities which all require them to listen, concentrate, watch and copy.

Funded by Kings Norton Education Action Zone, Drumvoice introduced its pioneering steady beat programme to all the schools in the Kings Norton cluster.

Hawkesley Primary School teachers and nursery staff took wholeheartedly to the programme, incorporating the activities into regular circle time sessions.

Reports following the first year of implementation were unequivocal. The children’s levels in communication, language and literacy development had risen considerably and confidence and self esteem levels had increased – especially amongst the shyer children within the group.

Nursery teaching staff, Helen Kenny and Vicky Hasker said the results had been impressive and they had no doubt Ready Steady Drum! had been the catalyst for change.

“We found that last year’s Nursery group (this year’s reception) were the most advanced group of children that had moved up into school in regards to their steady beat, phonological awareness (C.L.L.D. – Letters and Sounds) and overall listening and speaking skills.

“We found the Ready Steady Drum! songs, rhymes and actions upbeat, happy and energetic and they spilled out into other areas of children’s learning. For example in the outside area we observed the children singing the songs and tapping out the beat spontaneously.”

Suzanne Ray, a reception teacher at Hawklsey Primary, couldn’t praise the Ready Steady Drum! programme enough.

She said: “In my opinion the course was excellent from start to finish for the following reasons: it was practical and fun training; contained easily accessible resources; had clear teaching guidelines; and expert support was on hand every two weeks within school.”

As a result, she too reported a dramatic increase in the children’s literacy and communicative abilities, as well improved self-confidence and self-esteem.

She added: “As sessions progressed and the children’s confidence grew I would set them challenges to make up their own rhythm and rhyme music patterns in pairs or small groups. This proved popular and productive. Not only did it give them independence, it enhanced their creativity and gave them ownership of their learning.

“With all this wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience, we as staff noticed these skills being utilised in other areas of learning such as listening skills, concentration and conversational skills. This was noticed through our observations during child initiated play.”

The school ran Ready Steady Drum activities for a year in reception class and opted to put on a performance for the whole school during the proceeding summer term.

“The feedback from senior team members, visitors and parents was superb,” said Suzanne. “I can’t thank Drumvoice enough for their support and professional expertise whilst working with both staff and children at Hawkesley. The benefits of drumming are irrefutable and we will definitely be carrying on with the programme next year.”

Community Workshops

DRUMVOICE provides an exercise class with a difference for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers – and is asked back for more…

Sarah Westwood, Director of Drumvoice, delivered an interactive drumming workshop on behalf of South Birmingham NHS for the benefit of 20 patients and their carers. The class has met weekly for a year and wanted something special to celebrate their first anniversary.

Sarah Pickles, Senior Community Physiotherapist for South Birmingham NHS and winner of the prestigious 2010 ‘Physiotherapist of the Year’ award, runs the class and provides invaluable physical support and encouragement to all its attendees.

Sarah said she was delighted with the positive effect the session had on the people in her care.

She said, “Music-making may not be the first thing one thinks of in seeking means to support sufferers from physical illness and disability, even though it has long been understood that ‘Music is medicine for the mind’.

But there is no doubt that, for the Multiple Sclerosis patients belonging to the Exercise Class that meets regularly in South Birmingham, the African drumming sessions that Sarah offers have been a wonderful encouragement.

This activity is strikingly inclusive: about 20 patients and carers sit together in a circle and create a musical piece on a range of traditional African instruments using simple techniques and patterns that Sarah demonstrates.

While it is indicated how ideas can be developed and cross-rhythms built, enough to challenge the most adept, all participants (some with marked physical impairment) experience a full sense of hands-on involvement without embarrassment or feeling of exposure.

The sense of mental and physical satisfaction in the final musical result is very warm, and reinforces the mutually supportive identity of the group.

Sarah has excellent inter-personal skills. She maintains an unvaryingly positive atmosphere in her classes and there is always a strong forward momentum which is very compelling.

It is no surprise to learn that her personality coupled with her unusual and appealing specialism proves as great a success with school-children as indeed it does with a wide range of adult groups.

We are already looking forward to the next session.”