World Music Instrument: The Tin Whistle

We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of world music instruments with an article about the tin whistle by Jonathan Parker, program director for the World Music in the Schools program.

An instrument with an ancient and enduring history, the tin whistle (or penny whistle) is one of the most misunderstood and maligned of wind instruments. Often mistaken for a toy, this flute is, in capable hands, one of the most expressive and delightful of traditional musical instruments.

Originally made from a hollow bone, such as that of a bird’s wing, the tin whistle is a type of instrument known as a fipple flute, and is identical to the flageolet in its earliest form. As its name implies, it later came to be made of tin, and was first mass-produced in this form by Robert Clarke around 1840. Examples of bone whistles dating from the 12th century have been unearthed in High Street, Dublin, Ireland.

Whistle assortment The tin whistle is, in physical terms, one of the simplest of instruments. The mouthpiece has a narrow windway, an opening or “window” cut in to the side of the instrument, and a sharp edge over which the player’s breath passes. The instrument has six front fingerholes and no thumbhole, distinguishing it from the recorder. The bore was often conical in older instruments (typified by the English-made Clarke tin whistle), while many modern whistles have a cylindrical tube and a plastic mouthpiece replacing the older wooden or lead plug. In recent decades, this instrument has been made from a wide variety of materials, including exotic woods, PVC plastic, aluminum, brass, composite materials, and even sterling silver.

Whistle mouthpiecesPlayers of the tin whistle range from the 17th Century English diarist Samuel Pepys, who wrote of his delight in playing the “flagilette,” to the great modern Irish flautist James Galway. Many Irish flute players and uilleann pipers have played the tin whistle as a secondary instrument, including Willie Clancy, Paddy Moloney, Joanie Madden, Liam O’Flynn, Michael McGoldrick, and Mick O’Brien. Among the best-known contemporary players of the Irish tin whistle are Cathal McConnell, Mary Bergin, and Brid O’Donohue.

Deceptive in its simplicity, the tin whistle is one of the most accessible and portable of instruments, and one of the grandest in character.

Video Links:
Mary Bergin plays two jigs, Tom Billy’s and the Langstern Pony
Liam O’Flynn performs the slow air Sliabh na mBan

Jonathan Parkerthe World Music in the Schools program director for the Center for World Music, has played the tin whistle since 1980.

This article appeared in slightly different form in the July 1990 issue of the San Diego Folk Heritage journal Folk Notes.

Garit Imhoff, Musician and Storyteller

The Center for World Music would like to recognize Garit Imhoff for his years of dedication as an outstanding teaching artist in residence for the World Music in the Schools program.

Garit in the Garden

Garit Imhoff is a professional mbira player, teacher, and all-around performer, specializing in storytelling and movement. He is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts and has participated in world music ensembles for over forty-five years. He has studied and performed traditional Zimbabwean music extensively, both in the United States and in Zimbabwe, and has studied the traditional music, puppetry, and cultures of Java and Bali in Indonesia. Mr. Imhoff learned and practiced Zimbabwean music under the tutelage of many great teachers including Ephat Mujuru, Jacob Mafuleni, Stella Chiweshe, Tute Chigamba, Irene Chigamba, and Musekiwa Chingodza.  As one of its cofounders, Mr. Imhoff is an active performing member of Zimbeat, a professional San Diego-based music ensemble that specializes in the traditional and popular music of Zimbabwe.  He is also a performing member of Kembang Sunda, a San Diego-based traditional west Javanese gamelan orchestra.

Zimbabwe DayIn 2013 Mr. Imhoff was awarded a grant through the Artist Outreach Project of the Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation–funding to support teaching children in Encinitas at the Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito. The Center for World Music partnered with the Picerne Foundation and Ticha Muzavazi, instrument builders and teacher of students with disabilities in Zimbabwe, to develop specially made small-sized Zimbabwean mbiras that could be easily played by young children. The resulting year-long project subsequently developed into Center for World Music classes in public and private primary schools throughout the County of San Diego.

Mbira Students

Combining storytelling, dance, and singing to engage his students, Mr. Imhoff has been using the small-sized mbiras to instruct San Diego K-12 children in the compelling traditions of Zimbabwe. His music classes in the schools are supported by grants from the California Arts Council, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the local San Diego community.

Adler plays Khaen

Stirring Sounds from Thailand, Zimbabwe, Iran

La Jolla Light, February 11, 2016

The Center for World Music’s upcoming Passport to Worlds of Music series has been featured in the La Jolla Light.

CWM’s new executive director, Monica Emery, said she’s looking forward to introducing more people of all ages to the delights of world music. . . . ‘Our Passport concerts take place in an intimate setting, with the musicians actually walking you through their music, giving you special insights and inviting you to interact with them, as if they were in your living room.  You can bring your own wine, and we’ll have some snacks too.’

Read the full article:

La Jolla Light Article

Stefanie Schmitz — Brazilian Music and Rhythms

Congratulations to Stefanie Schmitz, Teaching Artist for the World Music in the Schools program, for winning a grant from Rising Arts Leaders to attend the Teaching Artist Institute.

Multi-instrumentalist musical artist and teacher Stefanie Schmitz has been exploring the San Diego music scene since 2001. Her talents span an eclectic range of genres including jazz, classical, samba, choro, funk, musical theatre, playing the clarinet, tenor saxophone, Brazilian percussion, and more. Stefanie attended the University of California San Diego where she received bachelor’s degrees in Music Performance and in French Language Studies.Stefanie Schmitz She directs and performs with a number of San Diego-based music groups, including Choro Sotaque, Super Sonic Samba School, the Zicas, and Restoration One. She shares the same knowledge and enthusiasm she exhibits as a band leader with her students, teaching private and group lessons on clarinet, saxophone, and percussion to students over a range of ages and ability levels. As a teaching artist for the Center for World Music, she also works in school classrooms, sharing her passion for Brazilian rhythm with San Diego area K–12 students.


RALSD LogoUnder the sponsorship of the Center for World Music, Stefanie was selected in November 2015 to participate in the Teaching Artist Institute, a professional development program offered by Arts for Learning, an affiliate of Young Audiences/Arts for Learning. For a working musician who collaborates with schools as a teaching artist, this program is of tremendous value. Stefanie was awarded a matching grant from San Diego Rising Arts Leaders to support her participation in the Teaching Artist Institute.

 

“In addition to learning about child development, lesson planning, and classroom management, I am connecting with other local teaching artists and developing my own personal mission statement as a performer, learner, and teacher. I’m looking forward to sharing my new energy and ideas with my students!”


Stefanie’s love affair with Brazilian music began when she took a samba drumming class. She started San Diego’s first choro group Choro Sotaque in 2009, performing traditional Brazilian folk music on clarinet. The group recorded its debut CD in 2015, which is available for purchase at chorosotaque.bandcamp.com. Stefanie has also performed with and led the community based Brazilian drum and dance group Super Sonic Samba School — a group which performs regularly for festivals and events around San Diego. Stefanie Schmitz MarchingStefanie seeks out her yearly fix of new inspiration at California Brazil Camp — a weeklong music and dance camp in the redwoods of Sonoma County. In 2013 she left her staff position at UC San Diego to embark on a six-month musical odyssey to Brazil, where she absorbed Brazilian language and culture, and studied with masters of samba and choro in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Olinda, and Jericoacoara.

As an associate artist for Lamb’s Players Theatre, Stefanie has played in the orchestras for several musicals, most recently in West Side Story. She also plays saxophone for the eclectic funk/rock/reggae band Restoration One, which was nominated for a 2014 San Diego Music Award. Most recently, she can be seen playing and singing with the Zicas, a new Brazilian music project.

When Stefanie is not playing music or teaching, you will find her making art, tap dancing, practicing yoga, or singing in her car. She blogs about her musical adventures at Everything Is Music, stefanieschmitz.blogspot.com, and she sells her original handmade jewelry in San Diego coffee shops and on Etsy.

Check out Stefanie’s website at www.stefanieschmitz.net for her upcoming performance schedule or to sign up for her mailing list.

Read Stefanie’s articles on the agogô and tamborim.

World Music Instrument: The Brazilian Tamborim

We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of music instruments that students in World Music in the Schools enjoy with the tamborim.

Stefanie TamborimThe tamborim is a Brazilian drum of Portuguese and African origin. It is a small handheld frame drum used in samba, pagode, bossa nova, choro, and other Brazilian folk rhythms. It is typically made of a metal frame with a nylon or plastic head, although it can also be made of wood or plastic with an animal skin head. Because of the similarity between their names, it is often confused with the tambourine, a frame drum with metal jingles around the perimeter found in much music around the world, including the United States. The tamborim can also be confused with the pandeiro, the Brazilian version of the tambourine. Unlike the tambourine, however, the tamborim has no jingles and is played with a wooden stick, a finger, or a bundle of long flexible nylon rods that strike the head all at once. It typically plays a punctuated syncopated pattern that fits with the other interlocking rhythms in an ensemble.

TamborimIn a Brazilian Samba School setting, metal frame/nylon head tamborins (plural spelling) are played with the bundled-nylon rod baqueta. The resulting sound is a loud, high-pitch “CRACK” that cuts through the din of the other drums, making ear plugs a necessity. The tamborins in the Samba School maintain the underlying groove of the samba rhythm by playing carreteiro, which in Western musical terms is a constant series of 16th-notes played with a Brazilian “swing.” They manage to keep up with the rapid samba tempos by flipping the drum up and down so that the striking hand is not doing all of the work. When the tamborins are not playing carreteiro, they are playing desenhos (“designs”) which are unique rhythmic patterns that give the samba a special personality. Each Samba School has its own unique desenhos that are sometimes accompanied by choreographed movement. This instrument creates an exciting transition when the Samba School starts up, and a few moments later the tamborins make their big entrance and take the music to the next level!

Stefanie Schmitz, World Music in the Schools Teaching Artist

Listen and see examples of the tamborim:

Choro Sotaque, Stefanie’s choro group (listen for the tamborim during the first 30 seconds)
Mocidade Samba School tamborim section
Tamborim demo

 

Cudamani

Study Music and Dance in Bali, Summer 2016

The Çudamani community in Pengosekan, Bali, is offering a three-week Summer Institute in Balinese gamelan and dance, June 28-July 18, 2016. The village of Pengosekan, a traditional center of the arts, is just south of Ubud, at the cultural heart of the island.

Share three weeks of intensive learning with musicians, dancers, students, scholars and people from around the world who love the arts. You will gain a new understanding of the richness of Balinese arts and be inspired by the powerful commitment to community that is at the core of Bali’s beautiful culture. An experience you’ll never forget . . .

Teachers include several of the most renown artists in Bali. The programs of Çudamani (pronounced Soo-dah-MAH-nee) are widely respected.

For more information visit cudamani.org.