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Gamelan Day

Posted: 28th June 2022

Today our Junior School pupils were treated to a wonderful Javanese Gamelan and puppetry workshop day led by London-based Mr Aris Aryano and his colleague, Ann, with Indonesian dance workshops delivered by Heidi Moran.

For the Gamelan workshop, Aris set up a series of gleaming bronze metallophones of various sizes, a Gong and a two-headed drum before guiding the children through two different authentic Indonesian compositions, ‘Sampak’ and Lancaren Kotek’ which both used the 5 note ‘pelog’ scale.

The children were taught how to strike the instruments with two different types of mallets and pinch each bar following the strike – a very different technique compared to our western practice – and memorized the melodies through number sequences which repeated as cyclic patterns throughout.


Meanwhile, in the Art room, Ann helped the children create a series of beautiful shadow puppets with sections cut out for coloured plastic to be inserted casting an array of colours when held up to the light. A whole variety of creatures and men were enthusiastically created by the children and they learned from Mr Daryano how a gamelan ensemble will often accompany a shadow puppet play with the musicians expected to perform for 8 hours continuously. The Kodo dragons who live on a small island in Indonesia can grow up to 4 feet in length and it was wonderful to see some of these dragons created as puppets by the children.


Over in the dance studio, our pupils were taken through a series of dance steps, stances and handshapes to echo the elegant moves of authentic Indonesian dancers.