If you have a curious and musical toddler, get yourselves to “Rhythms and Grooves” at ArtPlay. It’s a fun and engaging music and movement workshop presented by master drummer and multi-instrumentalist Kofi Kunpke for children aged 14 months to 24 months and their carers.
At the time of our review, our baby is just shy of 15 months old; making her more of a toddler than a baby! Toddler Explorer is curious and confident; happily stomping around to explore the world around her.
She loves the ArtPlay playground and keeps running back as I try to guide her towards our indoor session.
I have been organised again and pre-book a carpark at Federation Square. Note it used to cost $9.50 but now it is $16.50 for one hour of parking – but there is one-hours grace on EITHER side of the booking which makes it still worth doing. I find that this gives me a comfortable amount of time to arrive early and leaves some time after the workshop ends.
We arrive in the foyer 15-minutes early and use the waiting time to visit the current exhibition on in the room just off the foyer. Artplay staff let us know when it’s time for the session to start which begins with a greeting to all attendees and Welcome to Country. Then it’s through to the main room where we can leave prams before entering the session space that has been sectioned-off with big black curtains.
For this session we all keep our shoes on and carers and children settle in behind drums and shakers that have been placed in a circle around master drummer,Kofi Kunpke.
In Rhythms and Grooves, children are introduced to musical instruments that are traditional to Ghana in West Africa where Kofi hails from. Originally from Cape Coast, Ghana, Kofi is a keeper of his culture who is passionate about sharing the songs, dances, and rhythms of West Africa. Dressed in brightly coloured Ankara fabric, Kofi has dressed the space with a backdrop depicting a traditional scene and laid his stage with exotic instruments and artisan crafts, creating a warm and inviting West African atmosphere for the workshop to take place
Many of the kids start out the session shy but curious and Toddler Explorer is no exception.
As we enter, Kofi begins the session playing the kalimba accompanied with singing to welcome us. Once we are seated and with many of the children already picking up and tightly clinging onto the colourful kiss kass (shakers), Kofi playfully demonstrates the skill required to stack multiple bolga baskets on his head with very few toddlers volunteering to try the activity themselves!
So it’s back to the music- Kofi plays the flute (wooden so it reminds me of a recorder) and the balafon (reminds me of the xylophone) and a few other instruments whose names I missed. Soon enough the most curious saunter right up to Kofi to take a closer look at the instruments and even to have a play or dance themselves.
Then it’s time for group participation! Kofi leads carers and kids through some pint-sized percussion on the djembe (drums) and shakers that he has set in front of us. The beats are easy-to-follow and catchy; most of the children join in, curiously at first with a pat of the drums or shaking the shakers. Some children (both bigger and smaller) are initially frightened by the sounds of the drums but most warm up and soon start taking part themselves either by playing or dancing.
Toddler Explorer is both a dancer and a shaker – picking up multiple shakers which she shakes as she moves to the beat.
Rhythms and Grooves is a great session for toddlers and their carers- both to experience the sounds and colour of West African culture but also simply a lot of fun. Toddler Explorer leaves the session with new beats in her step and a new interest in turning objects around her into percussive instruments!
The next sessions of Rhythms and Grooves are Friday 19 October, Wednesday 31 October and Thursday 1 November.