Woodland hunt and percussion day sees the beat go on for Rocks Park

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Children at Rocks Park Primary School have been hunting for bunnies and demonstrating their dancing to a Latin beat.

Last Thursday, youngsters from the school’s years five and six joined pupils from Manor Primary School to take part in a percussion workshop.

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This was led by outstanding percussionist and a former cast member of the hit musical STOMP, Ollie Tunmer.

STOMP was created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in Brighton in 1991 and it was an instant hit as performers used a variety of everyday objects as percussion instruments in their shows.

Between 1991 and 1994, the original cast of STOMP played to capacity audiences in the USA and around the world. The touring culminated in a season at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London in January 1994, where STOMP received an Olivier nomination for the Best Entertainment Award and won Best Choreography Award in a West End show. STOMP was also performed at the Lincoln Memorial at President Clinton’s Millennium celebrations.

During 2000, a Sesame Street special ‘Let’s Make Music,’ a collaboration between STOMP and the Muppets, was released on TV and video in North America.

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Last week’s Rocks Park percussion event was staged in partnership with the East Sussex Music Service.

Workshops have been held across the County as part of the BBC’s Ten Pieces project. These are more than just a listening opportunity; they involve the children in ‘active listening through body percussion’ based on West Side Story’s Mambo. At the end of each session, as a grand finale, the Rocks Park children performed all they had learned to a captivated audience who raised the roof with their applause.

Following the Mambo workshop, 15 children are now delighted to have the opportunity to recreate and perform their body percussion pieces at the Elderflower Fields Music Festival with other young people on Sunday, May 29. This is a small festival in the Ashdown Forest designed with the family in mind and has been growing in popularity from its foundation just three years ago. As well as three days of diverse music and entertainment on two stages, there will be a play area near to the main stage plus activities and workshops created especially for children. Festival goers can expect sports and arts camps, urban woods activities, wildlife and environmental projects, music, theatre, dance, science, woodland spa, food, drink and well-being classes.

The children have also been invited to take part in a ‘Ten by Ten’ workshop and concert at Fairlight Hall, Hastings on Friday, June 3 on BBC Music Day. And later in the year, on July 7, instead of taking to the stage themselves, Rocks Park’s years five and six youngsters travel to Eastbourne to end their academic year on a final musical note, when they listen to the Kidenza Orchestra perform the BBC Ten Pieces.

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While the older children took part in the STOMP workshop, it was the younger ones who had the opportunity to celebrate the arrival of Spring on the last day of winter. To raise funds for their outdoor community classroom, the junior pupils and their families enjoyed an exciting Bunny Hunt in association with a wildlife charity on Sunday, March 20.

Activities included the Bunny Hunt nature trail itself, a giant bunny raffle, a barbecue and lots of chances to take part in the latest craze of free colouring. The day was supported by local hero Trevor Weeks’ Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) which had set up its display caravan for all the children and adults to see and find out how injured wildlife is cared for. The WRAS volunteers are now gearing up for a busy time as spring approaches and mammals and birds begin to increase the wildlife population.

More than 200 visitors - grown-ups and youngsters alike - followed the nature trail around the school grounds to find the hidden bunnies and solve the mystery clues. This great family event raised more than £750 for the community classroom project.

Governors, the head teacher, school staff and parents thanked the dozens of people who had given up their time and attended the day to help make it a great success.

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