Music and books


Since Anele Mhlahlo joined us in February, we have been enriching our workshops and activities with live music and adding a layer to the process of listening. Anele works with the children directly, impressing them hugely with his ability to play his violin and engaging them with his warmth and passionate belief that, if he can do it, so can they.

They listen to a variety of music – so varied that it makes even the most unsophisticated listener laugh when they plunge suddenly from Elvis to Bach, Amy Winehouse to African Jazz Pioneers. They learn that there are different kinds of listening. Anele tells them; ‘listen beautifully’ and our performance poet, Croc E Moses follows up by playfully winding words into patterns and songs.

This whole concept reflects the strong CBN belief that children need exposure to the other arts as an encouragement along the way to reading. We will shortly be working with a selection of books with a music theme donated to us by Cambridge University Press.

Some ideas for anyone who wants to try this:

A two-hour workshop, mostly group work.


Close your eyes. Listen to the music very carefully. (Two different pieces)

Now open your eyes and listen again.

Is it angry?
Is it happy.
Is it sad?
Could you dance to this music?
Is it music for dreaming?


Choose one of the two pieces and draw that pattern.

Is it sharp and pointed?
Is it round and smooth?
Is it joined together?
What colour is it?
Can you imagine a scent to go with this music?


Group work with Anele

Listen to the different feelings Anele can make with his violin. Some music is:

sweet and pretty
loud and angry
slow and sleepy
irritated and sharp
happy and then sad

Find out what a difference it makes when you close your eyes and really listen.

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