Gamelan workshops: explore the traditional music of Java and Bali

During September schools will have a chance to bring classes of children to London CLC for a flavour of gamelan music making, combined with animation. London CLC’s teaching and learning computing consultant Peter Lillington participated in the International Gamelan Music Festival in Java earlier this month and gives an insight into the spirit of gamelan.

Concentration: a child plays gamelan at a previous London CLC workshop.


You may not have heard of gamelan, which is one of the musical traditions of Java and Bali. It’s mainly but not exclusively percussive, played by young and old alike, and is now enjoyed by a world community. With the associated art form of wayang kulit (shadow play) it may soon be recognised under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

Earlier in August I had a fascinating opportunity to see at first hand schoolchildren and students performing gamelan music in Indonesia. I was privileged to be part of the South Bank Gamelan Players ensemble once again, and to return to Indonesia after a gap of 33 years.

We were invited to the city of Solo (also known as Surakarta – its motto is ‘Spirit of Java’ and it’s a notable cultural centre for the arts). Along with groups from Japan, USA, Ireland and other parts of Indonesia, we were part of the ‘Homecoming’ International Gamelan Festival 2018. Not only were we ourselves performing on the big stage alongside some of our Javanese teachers, but we were able to participate in the programme of cross-cultural exchange and events over the course of 10 days.

During the ‘soft’ opening to the festival, no fewer than 73 complete gamelans were played simultaneously along the main city highway. It was a bit like if 73 bands were spread continuously along Oxford Street – mind boggling! Many of these were school and community groups with performers drawn right across all ages.

Other highlights included a visit to the puppet makers’ village to see top quality shadow puppets being crafted; playing alongside students in a couple of schools and village groups; and an amusing Hanoman monkey dance with some (very) young apprentices (please don’t try this one at home)!

Unlike my first visit when it was tricky to capture what was going on, even equipped with the then-latest Sony recording walkman cassette, this time  I have plenty of souvenirs thanks to modern phone technology (check out Music Memos app on iOS as a handy tool for recording).

Our KS2 workshops will include learning to play the gamelan as well as iPad animation of characters and, for KS1 an exploration of the instruments. You can read more about the workshops in our blog post – What is gamelan? And why choose this creative arts and computing workshop? –  and please contact James to book or find out more details.

If you can’t make it to the London CLC workshops this time, don’t forget that Lambeth and other London schools can access music-only gamelan workshops (with no technology element) at the Southbank Centre.

Join our
mailing list

Sign up for the London CLC newsletter and get the best connected learning news and views in your inbox every week.

Does your school need a sustained programme in the use of digital technology to underpin your whole school aims and plans?

Our support package covers the following:

Professional learning

Teacher professional development which puts digital at the heart of teaching and learning

Pupil workshops

Engaging, practical workshops for your class, in your school, at our Clapham centre online

Creative technology projects

Engaging, immersive educational experiences with corporate and cultural partners

Consultancy & advice

Get tailored support from our expert team of teachers and technologists

Technology loans

Kit for every classroom

Book a call
with James

Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By visiting, you accept our use of cookies.