Read the Episode, Kaboom Percussion Part 2

Introduction

Debbie
Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 37. This is the second part of my chat with Cat and Josh of Kaboom Percussion, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. There’s so much for us to learn listening to these great people. 

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too! The transcript of episode 037 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.


Episode 37 “Read the Episode” Transcript

All About Kaboom Percussion Resources


Debbie
Tell us about your resources.


Catherine Betts
Yeah, so we make lots of different resources. So we started off with what we call our classroom packs, which are, each one has three pieces in them, they’re kind of longer form pieces that you might work on, maybe for a term, that kind of thing. Maybe you could perform in an assembly, we always use a lot of those ones when we go to schools to do workshops, we’ll cut them down for time sake, if we’re only there for 45 minutes, but we use those which comes with videos. And after they started to do pretty well online, we thought Alright, what else can we do? I think the next thing we did was the play ons maybe, play alongs, classical and there’s a Christmas one as well. And they’re really designed to, those ones, to make a teacher’s life easier we hope. 


Debbie
It works, it works. Thank you.


Catherine Betts
You need a five minute break, put on a video and the kids are still hopefully learning some quality music things but without you having to instruct them, or you just learn the routine and teach it yourself if you prefer. So those are kind of nice and quick, and hopefully fun picking songs that the kids enjoy. And with the classical one, hopefully exposing them to some music they might not have heard before, which is really cool. And we also have Marimba play alongs, Marimba play alongs, Marimba pieces, as well. So there’s five of them. Is that all we’ve got so far?


Joshua Webster
Yeah. I think so.


Catherine Betts
And the Mega Book.


Joshua Webster
Yeah, which is a bit of a combination.


Catherine Betts
It’s like the play alongs, but without playing along to music, they’re kind of standalone short pieces. There’s a lot of them.


Debbie
And in between times, you make just the general YouTube, how do they fit in? Because your, your play alongs are housed on a, like private, YouTube aren’t they, so that we click on the link and we’re on that, but the actual public YouTube, you just do that when you have time, sort of?


Joshua Webster
Yeah, we used to make a lot more videos early days, because we had a lot more time. And then surprise, surprise, life’s gotten quite busy. And we’ve been making fewer videos these days, early on, especially it was really great because that was our marketing. Essentially, we’ve never really paid for any marketing. We just, apart from attending conferences and that sort of thing. We thought why don’t we make videos, there’s no better way to reach someone, to do something they’re actually genuinely interested in versus sending them you know, cold calling them or something, much nicer that they can see a video. Oh, wow, this is fantastic. Oh, they’re in Australia, I can, you know, they can come visit me that sort of thing. So not that we did it for marketing purposes. But we just wanted to make videos.


Catherine Betts
And in the early days, we spent so long on each video like our Cups video, I think we spent three months rehearsing it. We’ve got all these like videos of us coming up with the grooves and making it perfect. And yeah, it took a long time. So the next one came like six months later, because we rehearsed it for six months. And these days, we don’t have the luxury of that much time to be able to spend on a single video. So we kind of wait till we have an idea that really excites us. And then we usually can get it done in a couple of weeks.


Joshua Webster
Yeah, but it is yeah, it’s just been a great journey. And a lot of the video editing stuff is what I would do a lot of.  Cat does a lot of the, like the school show admin stuff, which I’m very, very grateful for. 


Debbie 
I would be too.


Joshua Webster
It’s really great fun making videos and just trying to come up with different ideas. And it’s really great because it’s obviously a very visual medium. So we have to consider, I think we do we’ve always been trained as percussionists to consider the visual aspects of performance. But yeah, to kind of also think about how we can make something look good, as well as sounding good. 


Catherine Betts
And be engaging for three whole minutes. It’s funny to watch the analytics, you can see on the YouTube page about how long people will stay for. And yeah, it’s cool.


Joshua Webster
The retention rates and all that.


Catherine Betts
Yeah, that you can really kind of analyse your videos like that.


Joshua Webster
I think it’s been very helpful for our school shows as well writing pieces for kids. Yeah, I think people say that kids have short attention spans, but I think everyone sort of has short or similar sort of attention spans. And it’s nice to keep changing it up, whether it be you know, the instruments we’re playing or the way in which we’re delivering the content. So in our show, we you know, we tell a story or we get some kid actors up and it’s just, that’s just funny.


Catherine Betts
The kids think that Josh is the silliest person in the world. 


Joshua Webster
Yeah, absolutely. We have some Panto moments and things like that. So just yeah, it’s been really nice through the videos to kind of have an avenue to try things as well, that we can work on an idea for maybe two weeks. And then it’s done. Then it has this legacy online that you know, someone will be watching videos right now. And these are videos that we made maybe eight years ago.


Catherine Betts
So there’s over 100 videos, YouTube videos out there, that we’ve made. So there’s a lot to get through.


Debbie 
Wow, I think there’s two things with the videos. It’s another outlet for your creativity, because you’re both obviously very creative. And I think you need that outlet. So it’s another outlet for your creativity. And it might not have been deliberate but it’s also like an absolutely brilliant marketing tool, as you’ve said, because it’s about know, like, and trust in business.

So like, we’re watching you and all we know you. I feel like I know you. I have actually met you once very briefly in person. Just very briefly, I was at the Kodaly conference in, was it the 2018 conference? Is that where I actually met you? Anyway, but I was part of a crowd of music teachers so you wouldn’t remember me unless you went, Oh, pink hair. But watching you on video, I feel like I’m getting to know you. And the little things, even the tiny little bits, the humor, like, gosh, we’ve been doing Johnny be good with cups fairly frequently.

So at the end of your tutorial, so you would not even remember this Cat. You go, Johnny be good. And you go, Johnny, be good. And what is it? It’s a reference to we’re going to gosh, I stuffed that one up, didn’t I? But it’s something you made some pun about be good. And we just know, we feel Oh, they’ve had a joke with me. You know. 


Joshua Webster
I’ll just say one thing is early days, as Cat was saying, we would spend months on videos. And so we wanted to get more things out. So we started to publish our blooper reels. And we did it just because like, oh, you know, here’s an extra bit of content while we’re working on the next thing. But it was fantastic. We went along to some school visits, and we had teachers saying to us, Oh it’s so great that the kids can see that you make mistakes. And that you’re not this kind of, you know, you’re not perfect.


Catherine Betts
No, you have to practice it. 


Joshua Webster 
Because obviously, everyone makes mistakes. But kids, you know, it’s really great for them to see that even these people who hopefully do very polished performances, they make mistakes, and for us, all of the time, we make heaps of mistakes. And we have a laugh during it as well.


Catherine Betts
So the mistakes aren’t a big deal. Yeah.


Joshua Webster
No. So that was, it was really nice to hear that perspective. Because yeah, we were just kind of doing it just to get a bit more content out there. Yeah, really nice to hear.


Debbie
But a great outcome. I love that. Now, next thing I was going to ask you, but I think I think I’ve answered this one for myself, about whether you think of yourself more as musicians or music educators, because you’ve ended up in this education space. Can I tell you what I think you’re going to say? Yeah, I think you’re going to say your musicians who happen to work in music education more, but maybe you’re not going to say that. 


Catherine Betts
No, I think that’s pretty accurate. Yeah. Like we trained as musicians with a performance degree, just not education degrees. And we’ve kind of done all this education training on the job essentially.  So yeah, we’re kind of very excited to be working in this field. But I think, yeah, at our heart, we’re still musicians. And that’s the thing we love doing. And I think we’re very good at performing and that kind of thing. So we love to keep that as our kind of our main thing, and then transfer that into education as much as we can.


Joshua Webster
But we do exist in this wonderful space where we get to be both, which is awesome.


Debbie
Now this question, I like to ask everyone, this one is about nuggets of fabulous. Okay, so could you list some, I say three, but you know, I don’t care. It could be one, it could be five, of your all time favourite resources, activities, games, songs, ideas, anything. And you know what? It’s okay, if they’re actually ones you’ve produced, that’s alright with me, like, you can pick your favourite ones. Because you also may have some different perspective because you work with really large groups, where as most of the people listening would work with, between, you know, 20 and 30 kids at a time, but there’s a lot transferable. So what are your favourite things?  Nuggets of fabulous?


Kaboom Percussion’s Favourite Things & Nuggets of Fabulous


Joshua Webster
Alright Cat, top 100.  Go!


Catherine Betts
Number one. I think there’s lots of little tricks that we’ve kind of learnt all along the way because when we do small workshops with like, say a class size of kids, we come in, they don’t know us, we’re there for 45 minutes. We don’t know who these kids are, if there are behavioural issues, we’re kind of, we don’t have time to deal with them.

Basically, we’ve got to keep moving. So we’ve got lots of little things we use in that kind of situation to help keep things going. And a lot of them involve getting kids not to play the instruments that we’ve just put in front of them. So whenever we work with drumsticks, our favourite thing to get the drumsticks out of the kid’s hands is whenever we finish playing, the final rhythm will be “Hoo, Hoo, Ha” and on the “Ha”, you put your sticks on the ground and leave them in a very dramatic fashion. So that’s always fun. 


Debbie
Oh, that’s fabulous, I love that. Oh, I’m gonna so do that. Yep, okay.


Joshua Webster 
And then to see kids who have missed it, or they’ve been out of the room, they come back in oh,  “Hoo Hoo Ha.”


Catherine Betts
It’s the only way you can put your sticks down.


Joshua Webster
Yeah, so finding ways, as you mentioned, like, at the heart of what we do is fun trying to make music fun for everyone, ourselves included. But yeah, try to find fun ways to elicit the behaviour that you want. Rather than saying, Alright, put your sticks down, no, don’t touch them. But actually, how can you make that a desirable outcome? A fun thing, cool let’s add some sounds to it. 


Catherine Betts
Like, whenever we play with cups, the first thing we do is put our cups on the ground and listen to the sound they make when we’re not touching them. It’s amazing. Yeah, the kids are like, ooh, silence, cool. We always whenever we finish something, cups down, listen to the silence. So yeah, fun little things like that have made our lives a lot easier. 


Joshua Webster
In our current school show, and for our school shows we’re usually playing for about 300 kids at a time. We have a few percussion, body percussion calls and answers, which then have an action that follow them. So you teach them the secret secret signal, which for young ones has words for the old ones doesn’t have the words.

But in the current show we’re doing Blue Steel, so eyebrows up, out face and an attitude on the side with arms folded, yeah. And then you have to do that all at once after you hear this body percussion call and copy. So again, like a way to make alright, you know, everyone, can you please be quiet and listen to us? That’s not as fun as right.

You know, here’s the secret signal, now we’re doing Blue Steel. Just yeah. So either sort of micro or macro ways to get those kinds of results.


Catherine Betts 
We love kids being quiet.


Joshua Webster
It’s kind of I mean, I think is one of the things about it is that if you don’t have people’s attention, then you could be saying anything and it doesn’t matter. Like people need to be paying attention to really get what you’re trying to give them. So having lots of attention, getting techniques and ways to hold them are really important. They’re are a couple of little ones that we use. We’ve been lucky when we were teaching our own percussion ensembles.

One of the guys we studied with at university was a man named Freddie Plunston, who was a great hand drummer. And he had curated a lot of pieces from his trips around the world, mostly in Africa. And he passed on heaps of great djembe pieces and things like that, with songs that we’d often do with our ensembles. I just love folk music and being able to pass that on. You just, kids love it straightaway, they pick it up really easily. I think this there’s something fantastic about folk music, that it’s sort of deceptively simple, if that’s the right way to put it.

But you know, the kind of songs that you can sing to someone and by the end of it, they can sing along in the chorus as well. There’s something about it, that’s just yeah, really targeted perfectly to, they’re very teachable, and fun as well. So yeah, I really love folk music kind of things like that.


Debbie
And I think there’s a reason why it is folk music, it’s because it has survived, down through time. That’s the very nature of folk music. So it’s gonna have that magic simple yet perfect and well shaped and not easy to do. I think the same sort of thing with good children’s music. Some well trained musicians may have the opinion that children’s music, Oh anyone can write that, anyone can do that. Like no, it’s really difficult to craft something amazing for children. And I think folk music and children’s music, both very much like that. Yeah, definitely. So yes, go on Cat, you were about to say something.


Catherine Betts
I was just thinking about speed circles. This is where if we’ve got time at the end of a workshop will often do this activity, which I think a lot of music teachers know where you’re in all in a circle. You clap once the person next to you claps and each person does one clap until it gets back to where it started. And we always do this as like, how fast can you do this clap around the circle everybody.

So we do it once, we time the kids, so they get ten seconds their first try. We say all right. We want you to do this in less than four seconds and they all go No way, is that gonna happen? No way, there’s all this commotion. We’re like, no, no, we can do it, let’s try a couple more times you give them a couple of more goes. 


Joshua Webster
The next time, will be around seven and a half seconds. 


Catherine Betts
It always improves.


Joshua Webster
And then, Alright, I’m gonna give you three more attempts at this. But we need to start thinking as a team. So for example, if I’m standing here in the circle, and the clap is passing around, and then Cat claps, and I go, Oh, fantastic, Cat’s just clapped. I guess it’s my turn, here I go. And then I clap. And then the person next to me thinks, Oh, Josh has just clapped, great.  We don’t have time for that, right, you need to start thinking more as a team.

So, you know, send your attention to maybe two or three people further along the circle, I want you to react to that person, because chances are, by the time you react to them, the people in between you will have reacted to the person that they’re looking at. You’ve got three more attempts.  So in all, just like really boiling it down. Make sure everyone’s super silent.


Catherine Betts
You can have the rowdiest class in the world. And as soon as you go, Alright, ready, set, and they’re all just deafly silent, waiting for their clap. By the end, they always beat the time we set. And there’s this huge commotion of this, everyone screaming Yay, we did it. And it’s really cool to see. But then at the end, we always tell them.

So the first time we tried that, we asked you to do it as fast as you could. And that was ten seconds. Why didn’t you just do it that fast, like the four second version to start with? Well, because we needed to practice it, we needed to try it again and again and again, and work as a team so that we could get the best version of what we wanted to do. And we always do the analogy of Alright, everybody put your arm in the air as high as you can. Alright, now go 10cm higher.


Joshua Webster
So why didn’t you do that the first time? Yeah, exactly. 


Catherine Betts
It always takes that extra push.


Joshua Webster
And just to relate it back in. So that’s why when your music teacher says, you know, can we do this one more time? Can we do this one more time, can we do this one more time ? They’re asking you because they know you’re sort of capable of wonderful things. But it does take that real team focus. Yeah, a lot of attention to get there.


Debbie
I love that, they are absolute fabulous nuggets. Thank you. Nuggets of fabulous.  Alright. Now where can everybody connect with you?  I’ll get you to email me everything and I’ll put it in the show notes. But can you just tell everyone where they can find you?


How to Contact Kaboom Percussion


Joshua Webster
The main spot would be our website kaboom.percussion.com.


Catherine Betts
Facebook and Instagram. We’re too old for tik toks.


Joshua Webster
We’re Kaboom Percussion in all of those spaces.


Catherine Betts
And yeah, email. Kaboom@kaboompercussion.com for anything.


Debbie
Fabulous. I’ll put all of that in the show notes. And if people are in Australia, they can check out your shows, as well. And you’ll just have to work on getting it overseas won’t you?


Joshua Webster
Yeah.


Catherine Betts
Yeah. 


Debbie
All right. Now, I know, I don’t know how much you have had to do with the battle for the existence of music education in schools. I’ve had a lot to do with it. But just wondering if you have any advice around advocacy as we try to prove to society, how important music is for our kids, and not just to create fabulous professional musicians like you two, you know, just for the benefits of music education for everyone. Do you have any advice for us around advocacy?


Kaboom Percussion’s Advice on Advocacy


Joshua Webster
Well, as you said, because we’re not working in the one school on a day to day basis, we don’t have a huge amount of experience in this, one of the things that we have tried to do is to create resources that allow for music programs to happen in places with little to no gear, and even without having a music teacher.

Because for lots of the schools that we go around to now they don’t have a music specialist, which we know is a really tragic thing for those kids not tohave someone you know, trained and able to really deliver them the best version of that, because we know what what life in music is not just, you know, as you said, becoming a professional musician, but just for all the amazing things that it does. But so yeah, we tried to think you know, okay, well, can we have resources that a teacher could just press play on a video and we will teach the kids, they don’t need to have a music budget, they can use body percussion, cups, things like that.


Catherine Betts
But also trying to help those teachers that are, there are a lot of teachers we see that are maybe an art specialist, and now they have been thrown into teaching art and music. And they’re a little bit out of their depth in the music kind of side of things. So we’re hoping our resources can help those teachers feel a bit more confident teaching music, obviously, it’s not an ideal situation to have someone teaching music who’s not a specialist. 


Joshua Webster
Any subject really.  Resources can help


Catherine Betts
Yeah, so there’s lots of music teachers who also have to teach drama who maybe aren’t a specialist in that kind of situation. So we try to make people’s lives easier in that kind of way. But all I can say is from what we see going into schools, I remember there was a couple of years ago, we did a year seven show. And for us year seven show, like year sevens are a hard audience to play for, not the days that we look forward to the most. But we did the show and it was fine. It was fine.


Joshua Webster
We finished it, and we sort of went, we turned to each other after everyone had left and thought, woah, you know, that was that was a bit of hard work. Yeah. But we got through it.


Catherine Betts
And this boy, I think he came up to Josh at the end and said, that was my favourite day at school ever. Like he just loves that show. And hearing that from a year seven boy who, maybe during the show, they don’t kind of emote as much as a five year old would. But to hear that after the show. That it was his favourite day of school ever is just amazing. And you never know what like a live performance is going to do to a kid.

Like, for me, the live performances that came into school when I was a kid, they’re the things that I remember. I remember the reptile man bringing in his reptiles. The String Quartet who came to play for us. Those are the days of school that stick in my brain because they were different to everything else. Yeah, so having those Yeah, those memories and the things that stick with you for life and you never know which kid they’re going to impact the most. You know, it’s really cool to see.


Joshua Webster
I had an incursion come to my primary school where we made our own little drum sets. And I still have the chopsticks which were my drum sticks. I’ve got you know, a fair amount of drumsticks these days but I’ve still got those chopsticks? Yeah. They’re just they’re pretty lasting memories, because they are Yeah, very different.


Debbie
So you just don’t know the, you don’t think a lot about the power that you have to advocate for your subject just by doing your performances.


Joshua Webster
Yeah. And as Cat said, that story about that young man who came and said that was his favourite day of school, that’s one that I’ve passed on to our Kaboom teams. Because yeah, we see every show, we know which shows are really easy, we know which shows are some harder work. But in every show, there could be that kid who’s just absolutely loving, and getting so much from it. So yeah, it’s a wonderful job that we get to do.


Catherine Betts
I remember, as I said before we did Kaboom we were both instrumental music teachers. So we’d go into schools and teach drums and percussion. And I remember one year having a year 12 boy who was graduating, he wasn’t the best player, but he came to his lessons every week, and we would have a good time. And his Mum gave me a card at the end, when he graduated. It said he never really wanted to go to school, except on Thursdays because he had his drum lesson on Thursdays. And yeah, hearing that.

I’m sure it’s the same for so many kids out there, that their music lesson is the reason they go to school on that particular day each week. Whereas otherwise they might want to have stayed in bed that day. Might have been hard work getting them out the door. Yeah, music has that chance to make a kid’s life enjoyable. And that day at school a fun day. So yeah. And because of that they can learn all their other subjects as well, because they’re at school because of their music lesson. So yeah, it’s cool to see that kind of side of things as well. 


Debbie
So that’s almost a reminder for everyone to not negate the effect that we have ourselves on the children. And that that’s advocacy in itself, isn’t it?


Joshua Webster
Yeah, totally. For me, one of the things that struck me a lot with with my peripatetic one on one teaching was the number of times, I feel like, I would occupy an interesting space because I was in my 20s, I’m not as old as their parents, but I’m older than their siblings. And it’s kind of that cool, middle ground, which is quite nice to finally be cool in life.

But it was was a really interesting space, because some kids, they just wanted to talk to you about their week. And you know, there are troubles at home. This is happening. And, you know, I can only practice drums at Dad’s house, because we don’t have them at Mum’s house and that kind of thing. And you were just a supportive. Yeah, which was amazing. Both my parents are social workers.

So, you know, I’ve sort of been brought up to listen and that kind of thing. So I was aware, that was a very privileged space to be in, you know, not only to let’s have some fun playing some music and learn some things, but also just kind of just be there for them in a really, really interesting space, that they you know, maybe wouldn’t talk to their normal classroom teachers about it, because there are thirty other kids at the same time. Or they wouldn’t talk to their siblings about it. So yeah, it’s quite a special spaces we get to work in with music.


Debbie
I love that. That is very powerful. I agree. And before we finish off with a final kaboom, would you like a chance to get on your soapbox and tell anybody who’s listening. Anything that’s important for you to say, apart from connect with us, do Kaboom, You’re fabulous. I’ll say that for you. So you don’t have to say that. Is there anything else you’d like to tell the world?


Kaboom Percussion’s Soapbox


Catherine Betts
I would just say a huge thank you to all the music teachers out there who do bring, well it doesn’t have to be our resources, any different resources into their school, who bring any kind of show, live performance to their school. We know it’s not an easy thing to do, as you were saying, there’s so many hoops to jump through, there’s so many different things to organise that when it finally does happen, it can be an amazing memory for those kids to have.

So yeah, the fact that music teachers go to all that effort to make that happen is amazing. And we appreciate it so much. It means well, our job centres around that, but also, all the experiences we had as kids, we had amazing music teachers all the way through, which led us to become professional musicians. So yeah, there are some amazing people out there who go above and beyond all the time to make these things happen, which we really appreciate.


Joshua Webster
Definitely the amount of teachers we see at music conferences and things who are all doing it in their their spare, you know, holiday time, all this wonderful extra holidays that teachers magically have. Not so true.  But yeah, it’s wonderfully passionate people. I think across the board, wherever we’ve been, we’ve met such inspiring music, both music teachers and musicians. So it’s an absolute joy to be a part of that circle.

And as we say, at every conference we’re at, just a massive thank you to everyone who, you know, for doing what you’re doing, because it allows us to exist. And yeah, we’re just, we’re very grateful for the impact that they’re having on their students. Because we want to live in a world where kids are brought up with music and and all the great values that come with that. So yeah, just a big thank you to everyone who’s listening for doing what you’re doing. Keep doing it. Yeah.


Debbie
Well, I think that’s just a big thank you to Kaboom for doing all of the things that you do for us. And we will all see you again, even if it’s on the other side of the screen. 


Catherine Betts
Yeah, we’ll see you there.


Debbie
So keep doing what you’re doing. Thank you so much. Bye, Josh and Cat. 


Catherine Betts
Thank you, see ya.


Debbie
Thank you for joining me for this podcast. Don’t forget, you’ll find the show notes and transcript and all sorts of information on crescendo.com.au. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast or found it valuable, you might like to rate it on your podcast player and leave a review. I’d really appreciate it if you did. All I can be is the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you.  Until next time, bye. 

Sign Off

This podcast is brought to you by Crescendo Music Education, connecting, supporting, and inspiring music educators. You’ll find links to Crescendo’s social media platforms in the show notes. Please connect with me and be part of the Crescendo community. You might consider becoming a Crescendo member. You can access hundreds of files, worksheets, printables workbooks, repeat workshops, and webinars for a low annual fee and receive great discounts on events. So come and connect with me, Debbie O’Shea. See you in the socials.

Just for Laughs

As we know laughter relieves stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

What did the drummer call his twin daughters? Anna one,  Anna two. 

Now that’s an old one. I know.


Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Famous CUPS! Video

Connect with Kaboom (Cat & Josh):

Where to find me:

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