Student Presentations: Robbie Perry

Robbie’s talking about his background. At five took off on a big boat and travelled to new Zealand, came back to England around 16 in 1981, and then spent time in Ireland. Through all of this he’s talking about different experiences and different systems of education. He has a family and is concerned about what children learn and has taken from his experience a passion to help children – that fuels his work.

He’s also a musician and thus adds the mix. He’s speaking about how he met Liz, through a recycled orchestra with some children in Newham.Showing video of some of his work: the video shows various objects in a class setting being used as instruments. Kids are having a good time, some PhDers are laughing.

Through skype and plasma screen exchanging a gig with group in New York. Screen image of youngsters in London with a screen shot of others in New York attempting to jam together.

Really nice harmonics from the two groups interchanging. PhDs all glued to screen.

Rhythm started up: drum-like-beat. Robbie changing DVD talking about a video he’s put together which he sends around schools.

Talks about a project with special needs children. Says the group he was with – one big family – they all looked after each other. Project involved bringing in an assortment of instruments.

Image now of children with cyclewheels etc – about ten playing a melody. A haunting sound almost like whales talking at some point. You could imagine this in a film score quite easily. On stage shot now of young performers swaying to the music. Really captivating.

Robbie’s looking at the screen like it’s his first time – very focused.

Pull back on film reveals quite an ensemble on stage. Huge applause on stage.

None of this kids would have done a concert like this before says Robbie.

New video – voice-over with a hoarse voice talking about abandoned instruments. Imagine a Dick Tracy novel.. “What’s he building in there… we have a right to know?” Voice says.

Ah it’s Tom Waite.. Is that Tom Waite who did the Voice Over?

St Mary’s school in Virginia.. Question: are these kids with special needs too?

Robbie makes the point that children with disabilities are not held back by playing the instruments while able bodied children need a reference. Says he builds upon how they work with the tools. Video has dramatic tinpan.. score like the “The Doors”.

Question: what are your research aims? Developing tech with children with disabilities. Freedom of expression. Using non-traditional instruments to explore share sound, he concludes.

Clarified: when he says technology he means everything. Question: What kind of direction did you give to children playing a street instruments? Robbie explains improvisation for instruments.. sometimes basic things were difficult … when it came to the performance they were flawless.

Bruce asks whether there’s funding programme that would allow him to take youngster to play/ work with him. Period of working in school about 4 months.

Question from Kathy/Galen: Is there a reason why you work with children?

Adults want more input before they give something. Children are more intimate. He enjoys working with children..


“How did it go Robbie?” I ask afterwards. He’s laughing … Robbie says some of those questions asked were like, tough. Liz comes up to Robbie congrats him. Want to ask Robbie about the experience of presenting “Brilliant” he says, adding that he’s not an academic so felt some tension building up, but really glad as he’s done it justice.

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