Colcannon has done many educational residencies and outreach programs. Some for as long as a week, others for just an hour. We have worked with all ages, from preschoolers through adult. One of the highlights of our fall schedule is the week we spend each year at The Colorado College working with Dr. Vicki Levine's World Music Class.
We work hard to aim our presentation to engage the specific audience; we don't just go in and do "our school show".
Here are some examples of directions we might go. (It sound a little dry here, but we make sure there are plenty of laughs and music throughout the presentation. And we're sure to leave plenty of time for questions)
For little ones, and audiences with little exposure to music:
Introduction to the instruments, their sounds and tonal range
Discuss the "role" of the different instruments in the ensemble (melody, rhythm, accompaniment)
For groups that already have familiarity with the instruments we play:
What makes the music "Irish?" We demonstrate rhythms, ornamentation and tone colors that are specific to Irish music. We can talk about dance forms (jig, reel, hornpipe) and how they shape the music. We usually try to incorporate at least one song in Irish (Gaelic) and talk a bit about the language.
For longer sessions or groups that are more informed about Irish music we might go into:
The history of Irish music and it's evolution into what we think of as "traditional Irish music" today.
What is the process we use to come up with our material and arrangements?
As you might expect from the above, the experiences we've had working with groups has been so varied it's difficult to summarize. We have worked with kids from really disadvantaged school systems who had never heard a live violin before. We also work with the incoming Colorado College students, who were generally in the top 2% of their high-school class. One thing is clear to us though, and that is how much kids respond to being treated with respect and interest on our part.