Effie Bachtsevana is a music teacher and author. She was born in Melbourne, Australia and at the age of ten she settled with her family in Thessaloniki Greece. For the past 18 years she has worked in the Municipal conservatoire of Neapolis – Sykies and as well as Head of Music – Kinetic Approach in a Private Institute of Vocational Training.
Her pioneering teaching method is called `Let's Play Boomwhackers' – a method using a combination of English and boomwhackers, colored tuned percussion tubes that are used as educational musical instruments for kids and adults. “Learn English through music and play,” is the main idea.
In 2012 she created the first `Boomwhackers Orchestra' in Greece and her pioneering venture has been the introduction of boomwhackers in kindergartens and elementary schools and at the First Stage of Music Education at the municipal consevatoire of Neapoli-Sykies. In 2016 she published her first book and in 2017 her second, both based on her groundbreaking teaching approach which has been used with great success with schoolchildren in numerous countries, earning her several awards.
Effie spoke with The National Herald about her life and work.
The National Herald: How did you start writing children's books?
Effie Bachtsevana: Ι constantly seek new paths and inspirational creative ways in order to pass down to the children my vivid enthusiasm for music. Seeing the impact that boomwhackers have on children, I decided to write a teaching method using a combination of Music, English and Play.
TNH: Tell us about boomwhackers.
EB: Boomwhackers are tuned plastic tubes, of different lengths and different colors. The different colors make playing a song easy. Each member holds one or two BW, and all they have to know is when and how many times to tap them.
TNH: How long did it take you to complete your boomwhackers books?
EB: It took me about 10 years to complete my boomwhackers method. A lot of practice and hard work. Since 2012 I have been the Instructor of Seminars addressing educators of all stages focusing on using my boomwhackers books in education. All the above experience gave me the opportunity to evolve my boomwhackers method and write my two boomwhackers books.
TNH: What is the source of your inspiration when writing a book?
EB: I have been teaching music for over 20 years. My inspiration path has always been teaching my students. Sharing my knowledge and experience with them. Coming up with new projects, to improve something, or make something new. Creating and motivating is always a way to be inspired.
TNH: How do we learn English and Music with your boomwhackers books?
EB: Following my pioneering teaching method we learn to beat the rhythm, and to play melodies and harmonies.
All activities in my books are presented as games, so in most cases we work in groups, not alone. The activities encourage the group members to communicate, to be creative, and to express themselves. This means that we learn English and musical concepts in a simple, enjoyable way. Their main feature is that they are easy to use, even for small children, who gain real and immediate knowledge through play, as they experience the sounds produced by their tapping.
TNH: Your new groundbreaking teaching approach is divided into three parts.
EB: Yes, that's right. First part of the method we learn general concepts about boomwhackers, how do we hold them and how do we tap them against a hard surface. We play games learn the colors and the notes. We use boomwhackers as music kinetic material.
Second part of the method we work rhythm. We combine the rhythm, the movement, and the speech. We become a team and play many and different rhythmic beats. Always in a form of play.
Third part of the method we learn how to play a song in an easy and enjoyable way. You don't have to read the notes but all you have to know is when and how many times you have to tap your BW.
TNH: How do you connect with your little readers and the writing community in general?
EB: I get many invitations from public and private schools, kindergartens, nursery schools, children's libraries, educational organizations, and festivals, not only from Greece but from all over the world. They invite me to present my boomwhackers books and do workshops for students and educators. I get the chance to educate them and this is the part I love the most, the immediate contact.
TNH: Children's books get the message across regarding social issues. What is your goal in writing your stories?
EB: My boomwhackers books are highly recommended for any group that simply wants to combine learning and fun without having any music knowledge. Through my books I want to raise our mood, to get us excited and active, to create happiness and relaxation.
TNH: Which are the Greek children's books you wish you had written?
EB: There is one Greek children's book I wish I had written and it's A Child Counting the Stars by Greek writer Menelaos Lountemis.
TNH: Which are the most recent books you have published?
EB: In 2016 I published my first book titled Play music easily with BOOMWHACKERS, and in 2017 I published my second book titled Let's play Boomwhackers - Learn English through Music and Play.
TNH: What's coming up next for you?
EB: The last six months because of COVID-19 I have been doing online training sessions presenting my boomwhackers books to educators and students from all over the world. I continue receive positive feedback from all participants. I also have a book to be published shortly. It is an enjoyable fairytale based on my boomwhackers method. The tunes suggested are simple, easy, clear, and can be played by anyone, of any age. The plot of the fairytale can be used as a musical stage play for children.
TNH: Do you have any advice for aspiring picture-book authors?
EB: I believe that book authors should focus on making the difference in children's lives through their books. Motivation reflects children attitudes and beliefs in particular tasks or goals. So let's write for children, and study our target group, which includes parents and teachers. Let's use unforgettable characters with strong personalities. Use age language and have a happy ending with a solution to a problem. My extensive multiyear experience has taught me that a child can discover the secret of happiness only when they truly love what they wish for...