The Ju Percussion Group has a long history of creating events specifically for children and their latest work, Bean Baby’s Rainbow Dreams (豆莢寶寶的彩虹夢境), is currently embarked on an island-wide tour, with performances in Hsinchu and Taoyuan this weekend, and will travel down the west coast to Greater Kaohsiung and then up the east coast to finish with a final performance in Keelung on Oct 27.
Wu Shi-wei (吳世偉), a long-time collaborator in Ju Percussion’s children’s productions, told the Taipei Times at a press conference to announce the tour last month that percussion has a unique ability to engage even the youngest audience, and is particularly suited to provide a framework that has developed into something more akin to “musical theater” than to a formal concert.
“Percussion music has enormous potential for performers to express themselves. “[It] can provide a basis for some basic music education,” he said. “We have three Bean Babies [in the show], and they represent the notes Do, Re, Mi, and children can get an idea of what music is all about … They can enjoy the performance, and also learn about musical structures and instruments.”
Even the youngest of children can participate, for all they need is something to strike and they can make music too.
“Young children are very receptive to rhythm. It can appeal more directly to children than something like drama, which requires a higher level of understanding. Even three-year-olds can get plenty of enjoyment from these shows, and get a sense that they understand [what is going on]. Music is such a direct medium,” he said.
Hung Chien-hui (洪千慧), resident composer with the Ju Percussion Group, said that Ju has been creating children’s productions for over a decade now, and is experienced in pacing shows specifically designed for children.
“We started these shows in response to an awareness that we needed to create a wider range of concert formats to appeal to different audiences,” she said.
“We have done shows based on popular music, collaborating with artists in other fields, as well as concerts of percussion classics … We want to reach as many people as possible and give them an appreciation for percussion music.”
In the case of Bean Baby’s Rainbow Dreams and other shows, Hung said that bringing in a theater director had been important in giving the musical productions a more theatrical feel, extending the show from a passive appreciation of music to something more interactive.
As the title suggests, this year’s show seeks to bring together ideas about color and sound.
“And there is the whole magical thing going on with the appearance of a rainbow in the sky,” Wu said.
Tour schedule details can be found at www.artsticket.com.tw. Tickets for all shows are NT$300 to NT$900 and are available through NTCH ticketing and online at www.artsticket.com.tw.