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New Victory Arts Break – Percussion Week

At New Victory, the show is just one act of your family’s visit to the theater. Every performance is paired with easy to implement arts activities to help you and your loved ones connect to the performing arts and to each other.

But show or no show (see why we had to cancel our season here), New Victory is committed to bringing the performing arts to the widest possible audience, which is why we’re excited to introduce you to New Victory Arts Break, an opportunity for you and your family to discover new skills from the comfort of your own home.

Guided by New Victory Teaching Artists, every post will tell you what you need, what to expect and what to do. You can create a mini art class and do every activity at once, or just pick one or two to get your wiggles out. Whether you have some energetic kids (or some curious adults), explore these activities to make it work for you. Let’s get started!

New Victory Arts Break: Percussion Week

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Monday

Body Percussion

20–30 minutes, Ages 6–12

This week, we’re exploring different forms of percussion. Here’s New Victory Teaching Artist Peter Mustante with a body percussion activity you can do at home, no drums required!

Here are New Victory Ushers Aleksandra and Nalija playing a rhythm and body percussion guessing game from a recent Family Activity, inspired by Step Afrika!’s Drumfolk

Try using Peter’s Fruit Salad rhythms to make a similar guessing game! Was that a watermelon I heard? Or maybe it was a bunch of apples…

Tuesday

Playing with Rhythm and Music

20–30 minutes, Ages 6–12

Take a look at this video from the show Untapped! (New Victory 2016). Notice how the dancers, together with a drummer and a beatboxer, create music with their feet and bodies.

In these activities, feel the beat of your favorite songs and create some percussion using your bodies. 

Feel the Beat

Step One: Have each person in your family choose a song they like to listen to.

Step Two: Play the first song and see if everyone can clap along to the beat.

Step Three: Play the second song and see if everyone can stomp their feet or walk to the beat. 

Step Four: Finally, listen to a third song and use your whole body to keep the beat. Experiment with different body parts, or try drumming out the beat on your couch or countertop.

Create the Beat

Now that you have explored hearing the beat in songs, it is time to create your own funky family rhythms!

Step One: Start a steady rhythm by stomping your feet—think of yourself as a metronome.

Step Two: Have another family member create a corresponding rhythm by clapping their hands. Experiment to find a clapping rhythm that complements the steady feet stomping.

Step Three: If you have additional family members or friends with you, encourage them to add an additional rhythm on top of the two that are established. They can use their hands, feet, or an entirely new body part. 

Step Four: Now, give yourself a few challenges. See if you can:

  • Speed it up
  • Slow it down
  • Move around the room while keeping the beat

Beat Showdown

Now it’s time for a funky family challenge! Who in your family can create the most challenging choreography, and who can dance with the fastest feet?

Materials: Downloadable Challenge Sheets, writing utensils

Step One: Print and individually complete this challenge sheet (one per person).

Step Two: Exchange challenges and take a minute or two to practice the dance as written by your family member.

Step Three: Once each of you has practiced, it’s time to perform for each other! Who can perform the prescribed dance with the fewest mistakes? Clap a very steady beat for the family member who is performing. 

BONUS: If you’re feeling brave, put on some music and perform the choreography to the beat of the song!

Wednesday

Beatboxing

15–20 minutes, Ages 6–12

Beatboxing is a musical style or technique in which the sounds and rhythms of percussion are made with the voice and mouth. You may have seen beatboxing on the New Victory stage recently in Drumfolk, or over the past few years in shows like Untapped! (New Victory 2016) and Rennie Harris: Funkedified (New Victory 2018). Check out Nicole Paris and POPZ, a father and daughter who beatbox battle at their kitchen table!

Have you ever tried beatboxing? Try saying “boots and cats” repeatedly. Now, try only hitting the consonants when you say it. Once you’ve got that mastered, learn more from New Victory Teaching Artist and beatboxer extraordinaire Chesney Snow in this video from a few years ago:

Thursday

Stepping

15–20 minutes, Ages 6–12

Stepping is an art form of percussive dance in which the entire body is used as an instrument to produce rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word and handclaps. You may have seen stepping on the New Victory stage recently in shows like Drumfolk (New Victory 2020) and The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence (New Victory 2017), both from Washington D.C.’s Step Afrika!. Here they are performing at The Kennedy Center last summer (6:15–11:55).


Check out this video, and follow along to learn some basic steps with New 42 Youth Corps Alumni, Hyisheem and Shemar.

Once you’ve practiced along with Hyisheem and Shemar, use this worksheet from the New Victory School Tool Resource Guide for Drumfolk to combine your stepping, body percussion, beatboxing and other rhythm skills into one percussive piece!

Friday

Rhythm Everywhere!

15–20 minutes, Ages 6–12

When it came to making instruments out of everyday objects, the charismatic cast of Enlace S.C.’ Cambuyón (New Victory 2015) did it all. Wooden crates, recycled glass bottles and even a small matchbox found new life in the hands and feet of this energetic ensemble!

What do you have around the house that you can use to make a rhythm? Check out this video from New Victory Teaching Artist Peter Musante to explore some of the percussive tools that the artists of Cambuyón used onstage:

In this activity, gather items from around the house to make your own family rhythms and play with rhythmic call and response.

Materials: Something that resembles drumsticks (e.g. chopsticks, pencils, wooden spoons), other non-breakable household objects of your choosing

Step One: Find something in your home that resembles drumsticks. You will need at least two sets.

Step Two: Arrange various objects on the table in front of you. Try to pick things of various shapes and sizes that you think will make distinct sounds!

Step Three: Divide yourselves into two teams and sit across the table from each other. Have one person or team start a simple 8-count rhythm with their sticks on the table.

Step Four: Have the other team copy that rhythm.

Step Five: Play with the call and response rhythm, switching off who is leading and incorporating the objects on the table into your rhythm.

BONUS: Can you tap out the rhythm to a favorite song?

No room at the table? No problem! Here’s an example of New Victory Education Programs Manager Siobhan Pellot drumming out some rhythms on the floor with her husband, Jesus. If your family’s feeling the rhythm too, tag us on Instagram @newvictorytheater and we’ll share your video to our story!

We hope you enjoyed this first week of New Victory Arts Break. Check back for more in the weeks ahead!

11 thoughts on “New Victory Arts Break – Percussion Week Leave a comment

  1. You guys are really on the button!
    Thank you for this. We are waiting to get official work from the DOE. In the meantime working from DOE recommended material.
    This will be nice Segways between the scheduled work

  2. Thank you for these! They are great and will be really helpful as we all transition to learning and doing from home for a while. Stay well.

    • Hi Luke, this will be up permanently! Be sure to check back next week for another brand-new edition of New Victory Arts Break!

  3. This is fabulous. My kids are creating their own and sharing it on FlipGrid. Can you make the youtube videos designated for kids? When I put the link on Google Classroom with their kid emails, they are denied access. Some kids have adults to help, but others can’t get it easily.

    • Hi Laurie, I went through and made sure all of our own videos are designated for kids! Thank you for the heads up.

  4. I shared this lesson with students in the graduate dance education program at Hunter College, and in Zoom breakout rooms, each group created dances, using their own fruit syllabic rhythms, along with choreographic devices. This works well with young and the elderly populations – thanks so much for sharing! :)K

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