Corroboree's Yasson, a King of the Jam and veteran of many a performance, tells us about his workshop methods, and what's in it for him!
What are beatbox workshops about?
Beatboxing workshops for me are about bringing people together through the art of sound manipulation. Taking sounds that would sometimes seem silly and everyday, then forming them into structured rhythms. It can bring the most unlikely suspects together!
What kind of thing do you teach?
I teach from basic drum sounds (that you would find on a drum kit, i.e. the kick drum, snare drum/rim-shot, hi-hat and the clave click. These are the very basics that I think are necessary to start getting basic rhythm) to advanced sounds, i.e. humming and beatboxing, vocal scratching, stage skills, auditory mime skills, working with other musicians and also beatboxing through instruments.
Also I will include written beatboxing, as in phonetics, this helps some people learn quicker. I do not learn this way, I learn by hearing rather than reading. I am able to write down the beat patterns that will help visual learners, which I have found to be very very useful in workshops.
How long have you been doing workshops?
I have been doing workshops now for 3 years off and on. Mostly at festivals, but nowadays I am doing schools and colleges, plus some one off things for youth ventures.
What sized groups have you taught?
I have taught from one on one, to a group of 35-40 kids/teenagers.
What kind of age ranges do you teach? How do the different groups respond?
I teach from ages 2-50, depending on who is there at the time. It doesn't matter how old you are, just depends if you can make silly noises and be able to laugh at yourself a little bit! ...But I find that between the ages of 2-5, they enjoy the animation of the auditory mime skills and the interesting sounds, some replicate, others just have fun. From the ages of 6-11, I found that they are very attentive if they are into it, they have lots of fun and they pick it up incredibly quickly, very quick to learn and attentive when interested. Holding their attention is key with the way you speak and act. Ages from 12-16, is a hard one, because they have reached the age where they know about being cool and style, so they are very influenced by there surroundings, i.e. fashion, music, celebrities, movies etc. So they don't like to look "un-cool" in front of their mates. This is the trickiest age to teach. If they like it, then they will stay and learn; if they don't, then they will be very difficult at times; so the way I do this is to do a showcase, then get the teacher to ask who wants to do it, in a way that they won't get laughed at by their mates.
Ages up from that can vary, it's completely up to them if they want to learn or not; if someone does not have interest in something, they cannot be forced to learn it. It has to come naturally.
One other thing I found is that teaching the history of beatboxing is not an easy feat; but recently doing a workshop with TyTe, he showed me a more entertaining way of teaching beatboxing, by actually showing them what the founders of beatboxing are actually famous for. Cheers TyTe!
What challenges do you face organising and conducting workshops?
One of the biggest challenges is either having a very small group (which makes it a lot easier) or having an incredibly large group with nobody to keep people under control; this has a potential to go haywire, but there are ways of dealing with this. Like splitting the students into groups of 4-5, going round one at a time, giving them something to practice as a group.
What are your favourite things about teaching workshops? What is rewarding?
The most rewarding thing about teaching is the smiles and the respect gained after teaching. When the students excel and do things you have not taught them, or things they have picked up, that you may have noticed straight away.
One of the best things that happened was when me and my friend Psyjee (member of Corroboree) taught this kid at a festival, his mum came back to us the next year and said that he used to be bullied in school, but since beatboxing, he is now one of the most respected kids in his year. That is one of the reasons I wanted to teach, to give something for kids to believe in within themselves... to give hope and strength into the community.
Another story is that when me and my friend Jedmo (member of Corroboree) taught for his mum at East Leigh college, which is called Skills for Life, it was with teenagers with learning disabilities. We were told that usually they do not remember anything after an hour, nor do some of them show any interest at times. But for these teenagers, beatboxing stuck completely; even to this day they still speak of us and still beatbox. It really did make my heart shudder with joy.
Where would you like to go with beatbox workshops in the next 12 months and beyond?
I would like to take workshops overseas. As Corroboree, we want to bring community together in hard hit areas, bringing youth and all kinds together through music, through beatboxing.
Rooky - How do you advertise your workshops? It might sound simple but I doubt word of mouth could spread that much, or am I wrong?
Well it depends on the place you do it at.... As a rough guide:
- Corporate companies, i.e.; Shell, Microsoft etc... - Anything up to £1,000 plus expenses for a day which consists of 3-4 hours with breaks. Food will be covered too.
- Schools - If they have a budget for extra-curricular activities then you may be able to access that, it should be about 50 pound for a day, again 3-4 hours with a break, food may be covered, but not usually. If they don't have a budget you can do what I am in the process of doing and getting the kids to pay 2-3 quid for an hour after school club type thing. 10 minimum class, then you can work it to be getting 30-35 pound for that hour. Do it every day and that's a nice little earner
- Private schools - They will definitely have a budget, so you can go from 200-450 for a days work. (Maybe more depending on how confident you are and how well structured your workshop is)
- Colleges - Pretty much the same as schools, but it is more likely they will have a budget. So you have to find out their budget to take it further. If they insist on asking you how much you charge. Go for 100 pound for a day. Depending on where the College is and how prestigious it is. Always say you’re willing to discuss the price. But state your lesson plan so they know what they are paying for.
- Universities - Same as colleges, but usually they will have a good budget, but you will have to have a very serious lesson plan that will end in the students coming away with not just Beatboxing skills, but real world life skills. Something called Enrichment Classes, which seems quite popular. Have a look your school may have something similar. So payment wise, you could range it the same as a private school.
- Special Needs/Voluntary Settings - Usually you will get expenses, but probably not paid as they have very tight budgets usually. But the payment is in the results you get and the time spent making their lives more normal.
- Festivals - These are the most fun cause everyone is all having a good time. You should get: Free entry, expenses, food each day and possible payment depending on their budget, but, if you have a good reputation through doing workshops/show's then it's more likely that they will give you want you want.
All of those, with regards to equipment, you will get your full money if you have your equipment or if they have their own, but if you need to hire it, that will go on top of your costs, but you may need to take your payment cost down as it could look like your not very professional. Although, you could always add the cost into the price and not say you have to hire it... They don't need to know really.
At the moment that's all the places I have done workshops, apart from corporate companies.
Oh and I'd love to come to Ireland to teach, but I still need my own equipment and I would need expenses cause I don't have the money at the moment.