Monday, March 17, 2014

Traveling Tremors

When I was in Taipei, there was an earthquake strong enough to move me in my bed. Back in San Francisco, another earthquake, but I didn’t feel this one. And now here in Chile, where a 6.7 earthquake just hit in the north. What’s going on here? Am I so powerful that I’m shaking the earth with my radical ideas and dynamic music teaching? Ha ha!

Another glorious day teaching children, this time in The Grange School in Santiago. Big classes, 24 or so in a bunch, but all happy enough to be actively engaged every second of the 40 minutes. I did the little game Choco-la-te with 2nd graders, the rhyme I learned here in Chile visiting my daughter some 9 years ago, and it felt fun to bring it full cycle. Most said they knew it, but of course, not the way that I do it. New ways to extend the game shook up their thought process as they transferred the rhythms to surdo drums, djembes and woodblocks.

An interesting short sharing with a talented 15-year old pianist who played an impressive Chopin and Mozart piece. I asked him to try Minuet in G by Bach. He couldn’t quite recall it, but was searching around for the right notes and knew it well enough to know when he missed them. When he more or less had it, I asked him to embellish the melody. To play it in minor. To transpose to another key. He was game, but none of it was easy. “I’m just used to reading notes,” he admitted and I said, “That’s all well and good, but open the windows a little and let your ear our for exercise.” He seemed intrigued. A minor tremor in the solid ground of his musical upbringing.

Then a talk to much of the faculty, about 60 teachers, the TED talk I wanted to give with some time for them to do some music so I could convince them they’re more musical than they think. Their confidence clearly rose, but then dipped again when I showed the video of our Middle School kids in Salzburg. Kind of like “I was feeling musical, but I’m not nearly at that level!!” Another re-arrangement of assumptions about what it means to be musical and what all kids might experience if they went through music training like the kids at the SF School.

So I guess traveling tremors is an appropriate metaphor for this work. Not so much to cause major damage or death, but just enough to keep us a bit more alert and open to questioning what we had taken for granted as a firm foundation.

1 comment:

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