Batala, hey!

Outside of school, I have a life (contrary to the belief of many pupils who still believe I live in the classroom). As part of this aforementioned ‘life’, every weekend I rehearse with Batala London: a samba reggae drumming group. With nearly 30 worldwide Batala bands, I’ve had some amazing experiences since joining: from drumming in la fête de la musique on the streets of Paris at 2am to parading around Wembley stadium for an England football match. I also perform with a smaller Batala band regularly at a Brazilian venue in central London.


Before joining Batala in September 2013, I had no experience of drumming. I’ve always been a ‘tapper’ and will tap and pat along to any beat I hear (aloud or in my head!) much to the annoyance of my friends and family, but I’ve never had any ‘formal’ experience or teaching of drumming. Rehearsing almost every Saturday for the last year and a half has changed this and I’ve seen my drumming confidence rise. Today, this resulted in leading a ‘stick practise’ workshop for our ‘newbies’ who take part in beginner sessions before joining the main band.

As our ‘leader’ has headed to Salvador to play with our sister band in the carnival (something I would really love to do one day!), a few of us are stepping in and leading various parts of the rehearsal. My role today was to run through a few rhythms to get everyone warmed up and practising at sticking to tempo while playing together as a group.

As a teacher, I am used to leading groups towards a learning ‘outcome’. Changing the landscape of where this teaching takes place and the context of what is taught, I realised today, is a very healthy way of developing the skills that I use in the classroom everyday. Taking myself out of my teaching comfort zone is important in order to develop the ability to adapt the methods I use when teaching young people for different audiences.

Who knows how the future of teaching and learning will progress? In my professional future, I hope to work with a variety of people of a wide variety of ages. Experiences like this one today, I hope, will strengthen the flexibility of my teaching practice.

If you’re interested in the band, here’s a video of us from our gig at Wembley.

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