Jazz for Young People

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How Monkey found his swing



Main target age group

02-10 years

Key artists

Members of the HSQ saxophone quartet: 
Helena Summerfield, Helen Pillinger, Kyran Matthews and Will Lenton.
Ursula Holden-Gill – storyteller.
Phil Bennett – drums.

The ensemble (number of saxophones) can be adjusted from 6 to 4 to suit budget of venue / festival. 

Practical information

Length - 45 minutes to 1 hour performance length as appropriate to venue / festival. 
Format – Interactive workshop session (15-30 minutes) followed by 30 minute interactive performance.
The workshop session introduces children to *Dalcroze Eurythmics movement techniques and musical themes that are later revisited during the performance session. The session can be tailored to meet any specific needs of the audience – age and ability. 

*Dalcroze Eurythmics is a concept that teaches creative expression and deeper musicality through whole body movement and makes great use of improvisation. 

During the performance children engage with the music through movement, waving ribbons on sticks and playing hand held percussion instruments. 
Technical requirements – 1 x headset mic, 1 x radio mic. Musicians perform acoustically on the same level as the audience and need to be able to move freely around the performance space. 

Artistic idea

“How Monkey found his swing” is a fun, interactive concert experience for the young and the young at heart. Join acclaimed storyteller Ursula Holden Gill and musicians from HSQ on a musical adventure through the jungle as a jazz loving monkey loses his swing and vows to get it back.

Drawing on their collective experiences as music educators and as parents of young children HSQ created the show “How monkey found his swing” to introduce children to jazz music in a way that was engaging yet did not dumb down the material and where quality musical performances were fused with storytelling and Dalcroze. 

“How monkey found his swing” is not a traditional concert situation where the audience has to be quiet and sit still, instead they are actively encouraged to respond personally to the music they encounter. The show teaches children how whole body movement can be used to show the essential elements of music, such as: melody, phrasing, rhythm and dynamics.

“How monkey found his swing” is undertaken in the spirit of Émile Jaques-Dalcroze - he believed the first instrument that must be engaged in music is the body and that physical responses are natural and cross boundaries of age and culture. HSQ weave Dalcroze elements into the music subtly and aim to enthuse the whole performance with its essentially freeing and joyful nature. 

During the story monkey meets a variety of animal characters, each representing a different style of jazz music. Children are not even necessarily aware that they are listening to jazz, just that they are taking part in a fun musical adventure. 

Main costs

£150 per performer plus travel expenses

Additional info

We loved your performance at Just So festival! Fabulously interactive for the kids. Isabella was entertained throughout the whole performance, for a three year old who doesn't like to sit still, you certainly captured her imagination - thank you!
Laura Sharp, audience member

Fab storytelling and musical arrangements. Monkey was great!
Sam Slater, Musical Picnic Coordinator for Birmingham Symphony Hall

How Monkey Found His Swing, which I was delighted to be able to premiere at mjf 2015, is that rarest of creations and one that we’ve been waiting for: a work created especially for children and families that not only grabs and retains attention from the outset but is uncompromising in its musicality and level of artistry.
The piece successfully keeps minds and bodies totally engrossed throughout, with a charming and absorbing mixture of music, storytelling, visuals and movement, all integrated in a meaningful, natural way and appealing to a wide range of appetites and attention spans. Performance, narrative, composition and, crucially, improvisation, are all delivered to equally high standards throughout.
Rather than experiencing the work as passive onlookers, children are actively participating from the word go and adult listeners are rewarded with music of the highest calibre, played by a diverse mix of performers that appeals to listeners from all communities and backgrounds.
How Monkey Found His Swing is one of the most successful pieces of children’s work I have seen and I thoroughly recommend it for programmes of all shapes and sizes.

Steve Mead, Artistic Director, Manchester Jazz Festival

Booking contacts

c/o Jazz North 
Helena Summerfield 
helenajsummerfield (at) live.com


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