Monthly Archives: April 2015

5/6 Chinese Museum Incursion

Chinese art and music has been the main focus for the 5/6 students in preparation for the Bell Biennale Arts Festival (Our Asian Neighbours). Last Monday grade the 5/6 students had great learning opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture when the Melbourne Chinese Museum visited the school to run three workshops. The first workshop was a Chinese language infused dance with all the grade 5/6 students. Included in some of the dance routine was also some simple Tai Chi moves.

 

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After getting warmed up with the dance 5/6 students were ready to learn about Chinese medicine. During this session the students had a hands on experience with an interesting variety of herbs, fungi and other medicinal plants. After learning about what some of the herbs can cure the students were then given a mock patient that need help with a particular ailment. Students were then charged with the task of choosing the right recipe to make a soup that could possibly cure the ailment.

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The third workshop was about making Chinese lanterns. This was a great hands on experience for the students that required a high degree of fine motor skills. As they made the lanterns they learnt why the lantern is an important symbol for luck in Chinese culture.

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Volunteers Wanted for Bell Biennale

Hi parents, guardians and friends of Bell PS.

Below are a series of jobs essential to making the Bell Biennale Arts Festival (Our Asian Neighbours) a successful experience for the students and audience. Each job has a link to volunteer spot where you can simply sign up with your email address (no password required) and view the job. As they say ‘many hands make light work’. It’s now getting to the pointy end of the organisation and preparation phase of the Biennale and Chelsea and I are in desperate need of your help. Please have a look at the jobs listed below and see what you can do. Chelsea and I would like to thank those who have already dedicated your time and skills to helping us out. The support of the parent community is what makes working at Bell PS so special.

Art Work display set up

http://vols.pt/bkidv4

5/6 costumes

http://vols.pt/Vhccxv

Creating a comment book

http://vols.pt/oUHdzg

Cutting Eyes Out Of Masks

http://vols.pt/oLhrGA

Cutting up tickets and delivering them

http://vols.pt/YrAu1S

Decorating and preparing the performance space (Music Room)

http://vols.pt/rg3x2E

Taking down displays

http://vols.pt/uY3gvk

Thank you,

Andrew and Chelsea

Part 2 Javanese Dance

Following on from the previous post part 1

Like singing in a choir or playing in an ensemble, dancing with others in unison as a synchronised group, brings great pleasure. Clearly from the images below this is what the students were experiencing under the graceful guidance of Nita Hall from Asia Raya. The level of engagement was extremely high and Bell’s grade 3/4 students demonstrated excellent choreography skills whilst following Nita’s moves.

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One of the dances that the students learnt wasn’t originally from Java but from the island of Sumatra. This was called the plate dance. As the students entered the room there were pairs of small yellow and orange plates laid out on the floor. Yellow for boys and orange for girls. When the students got dressed up in the colourful costumes they looked amazing. The red horns of the headdress that the girls wore represented the buffalo commonly found on the island of Sumatra. Both boys and girls had to wear traditional Javanese sarongs with the girls wearing beautiful pink tops and red scarves. The boys accompanied the girls with bright blue shirts and black scarves to match their headdress. How amazing do they look?

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Fact: Did you know that when this dance is performed back in Indonesia that the dancers actually dance on broken plates. Nita says that this requires great skill so as to not cut their feet on the shards of broken plate. 

Watch some of the grade 3/4 students perform the Plate Dance.


The other dance that the students learnt was a penguin dance. Again after some practice, the students were able to follow Nita’s moves and their costumes were also wonderfully ornate and colourful.

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Javanese Gamelan and Dance Comes To Bell (Part 1)

As part of the ongoing learning for the Bell Biennale Arts Festival “Our Asian Neighbours”, the grade 3&4 students were were treated to an amazing incursion on Thursday. Aaron and Nita Hall from Asia Raya travelled all the way from Bendigo with a complete Javanese Gamelan ensemble and dance costumes. What is a Gamelan? I hear you ask. Wikipedia pretty much nails it:

“Gamelan is traditional ensemble music of Java and Bali in Indonesia, made up predominantly of percussive instruments. The most common instruments are metallophones played by mallets as well as a set of hand played drums called kendang which register the beat (Wikipedia).”

The Javanese gamelan is mostly made up of six types of percussion instruments.
Saron

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Gong Kempul

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Kethuk

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Kenong

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Bonang

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Kendang

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When all these instruments are played at the same time the gamelan produces very impressive and loud sound. Yet simultaneously producing a calm and relaxed feeling because of the the nature of the harmony and pentatonic like scale.

The large size of the the ensemble means that everyone gets to have a go at playing an instrument and through several rotations the students were able to have a go of all the instruments.  Aaron explained that the gamelan at a beginning level is very accessible and the first songs can be learnt by students from a young age. Each part plays an equally important role in the ensemble. However, the main melody that the students learnt and was followed by the rest of the ensemble was played by the Saron. Bell students were able to learn quickly these melodies drawing on their previous knowledge of playing metallophones and what they had learnt about Javanese gamelan in class. The main melody followed a repeated pattern of hitting the notes on the Saron marked 5,6,5,6,2,1,2,1.  Aaron was very excited to see that Bell students learn the difficult Kenong and Bonang part easily. This part required the player to play their notes on what is called the ‘Off Beat’ or better described as the in between beats. The Gong Kempul required three students to play it. Once the first group had learnt the part they then became the pointers for the next group of pointers. Aaron was able to split the Kendang part into 4 separate drum parts. The Kendang is responsible for holding and directing the tempo of the ensemble.

To experience actually playing a real life gamelan was an incredible learning opportunity for Bell students. This incursion has been invaluable in allowing the student construct their knowledge about the Javanese gamelan. Which will hopefully be put to good use when the 3/4 students begin to compose their own Javanese inspired compositions.

Please make sure that you are one of our subscribers so that you will get a notification of when Part 2 will be posted. Part 2 will look at the wonderful Javanese Dance that the students were engaged with.