Gamelan Project Article by Alex Khalil

Alex Khalil’s Gamelan Project Smithsonian Article

Gamelan aficionados and music educators alike with find much of interest in this great Smithsonian article on the value of music education for kids by Center for World Music board member Alexander Khalil, PhD. Dr. Khalil offers important observations on attention in children, impaired temporal processing, ADHD, and the benefits of bi-musicality.

Our research has found a connection between the ability to synchronize with an ensemble in a gamelan-like setting and other cognitive characteristics, particularly the ability to focus and maintain attention. Our current work explores whether improvements at interpersonal time processing, or synchrony, may translate into improved attention.

Also of interest in this article is Alex’s account of the history of the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program, based on his experience as a founding instructor during and after the program’s 1999 inauguration in San Diego at the Museum School:

The gamelan program at the Museum School has its philosophical roots in [pioneering ethnomusicologist] Mantle Hood’s well-known concept of “bi-musicality.” Just as one who is bi-lingual must have fluency in more than one language, one must be fluent in more than one musical language to be considered bi-musical. Robert E. Brown, who studied under Hood at UCLA and subsequently founded the Center for World Music, made his first efforts to bring world music, a term he is credited with having invented, to the elementary classroom in 1973 through his “world music in the schools” program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Read the full text of this article on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Asian Art website.

Find out more about Dr. Khalil’s work at UCSD’s Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center.

And here’s a nice video documenting the ongoing gamelan program at the Museum School.

Sufi Raina

Sufi Raina, Teacher of Kathak Dance

The Center for World Music is pleased to welcome Sufi Raina to our roster of distinguished teaching artists, a team of professional musicians and dancers who bring the worlds’ performing arts into San Diego classrooms through World Music in the Schools.

Sufi Raina Headshot

Sufi Raina is a silver medalist in Kathak, one of the preeminent classical dance traditions of North India. She holds a master’s degree in Kathak from Apeejay College of Fine Arts, Jalandar, Punjab, where her mentor was the esteemed Dr. Santosh Vyas. She also holds a master’s in psychology from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Trained in the Jaipur Gharana (tradition), Sufi was a lecturer in Kathak at KMV College Jalandhar for three years. During this time she taught dance as a major to undergraduate students. She also choreographed performances for the college as well as for national youth festivals. She was invited to England by the North Somerset Music Service, as a part of a cultural exchange program, to perform and teach Kathak in schools, introducing students to Indian classical dance.

Sufi Raina Dancing

Sufi has choreographed many dance performances for the stage and national television in India. She was an assistant choreographer for the Punjabi film Heer Ranjha. An innovative choreographer, Sufi is also trained in folk dance forms of India. Her love for Kathak, combined with countless dedicated hours of riyaaz (intense practice), have brought her to many stages across the world, enthralling an international audience with the nuances of this classical Indian dance form.

Sufi moved to Southern California in 2011. Since then, she has been actively performing in the region. A lifelong learner and a teacher by choice, she is the founder and artistic director of Tej Dance Studio in San Diego.

Sufi has recently taught for the Center for World Music as an artist in residence at Innovations Academy and at the San Diego French American School, as well as presenting assembly performances at Hawking STEAM Charter School and at SDFAS.

Want to see more? Visit these links:

Promotional Video for Tej Dance Studio
Kathak Performance Celebration World Dance Day in Punjab, India

Mark Lamson Teaching

What Do Children Think About Learning World Music?

Toda Criança Pode Aprender (“Every Child Can Learn”), the blog of the Brazilian NGO Laboratório de Educação (“Education Laboratory”), published a fine article on the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program. Here’s a translation:

What do children think about contact with music from other cultures?

October 30, 2017

This article is part of the series: What children think about . . .

Discover the children’s point of view about learning songs from other countries!

In 1963, the Center for World Music was created in San Diego, a nonprofit organization that promotes meetings and presentations by artists from different cultures with the goal of broadening social awareness of diversity.

Over time, the children’s audience became part of the project’s focus and integrated into the curriculum of some schools in San Diego County. The idea was to invest in the education of children so that they could learn from a young age about music, but mainly about the diversity and richness of contact with different cultures. (Read more about the musical experience and development of the child by clicking here and here.)

The Center for World Music has also posted an interesting video that shows the children’s point of view about interacting with instruments, artists and songs from diverse backgrounds! It is worth viewing:

[Transcript:]

What do you love abou music class?

“I like to have the experience of listening to and playing music from other countries.”

What have you learned?

“I learned to play different instruments, from gamelan to the ukulele.”

What do you like best in music class?

“I like to learn new melodies and how to use new instruments like gamelan. It’s cool!”

What do you like best in music class?

“I love having the chance to use different instruments that other schools do not use.”

What did you learn?

“I’ve learned that practice makes almost perfect, never to full perfection, but it helps a lot, because you will not always get it at first.”

“It really brings out the best in you because you really need to do your best and focus on music.”

To learn more about the project, we also recommend listening to the Center for World Music’s executive director, Monica Emery:

[Transcript:]

“The Center for World Music started in 1963, and at that time we were primarily focused on adult audiences. Then we quickly realized that children were the future, and so now we reach 5,000 students across San Diego County. We teach world music in the classrooms because we want to create a society that is more open, accepting, and compassionate. In 1999, we launched our World Music in the Schools program, to bring hands-on world music education into the San Diego classroom. This program is not just about music, this is about children learning through music about themselves and the world around them. We bring master artists and musical instruments from around the world into to the classroom, so children have a hands-on experience with these instruments and the cultures from which they come. If you want to be part of this transformational program, visit us at www.centerforworldmusic.org.”

Here’s where you can learn more about World Music in the Schools!

 

Poway World Music Students

Poway Students Encounter a World of Music

The San Diego Union Tribune, October 21, 2017

Persian master musician and CWM teaching artist Kourosh Taghavi is teaching at Highland Ranch Elementary School in Poway this fall. The class is part of the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program, which has been reaching students in San Diego since 1999.

UT reporter Deborah Sullivan Brennan visited Highland Ranch and attended a third-grade class conducted by Kourosh. She was impressed with what she saw and heard:

This semester, students will learn classical Persian music, Brazilian Capoeira and Eastern and Western folk dances. In the Spring, they’ll study Zulu percussion, Zimbabwean songs, and Brazilian Samba. It’s a good mix for a campus where the students hail from all corners of the globe.

Kourosh Taghavi at Poway

Kouroush Taghavi teaches a song while playing the Persian setar. UT Photo by Don Boomer.

Reflecting on the diversity of languages and cultures represented at Highland Ranch, Mr. Taghavi said:

Music makes you a kinder person. I hope they become more gentle people, more understanding, and with open eyes, ready to experience the world that is before them. I think they will become more content when they know about each other.

The students seem to agree!

Read the full story at SanDiegoUnionTribune.com. A great tribute to having world music in our schools!

Claudia Lyra, Engaging Brazil’s Music, Movement, and Stories

Congratulations to Claudia Lyra, World Music in the Schools teaching artist, for earning a master’s degree in Dual Language Education from San Diego State University in 2017. Claudia has presented interactive assemblies and conducted artist-residencies for the CWM.

Claudia LyraClaudia Lyra is owner, artistic director, and teacher at BRaPA, Brazilian Portuguese and Arts, in San Diego, CA. Originally from São Paulo, Claudia grew up in the city of Londrina in southeastern Brazil. She has shared Brazilian culture in the United States since 2003.

Claudia’s teaching philosophy envisions fostering well-being and joyful learning through the arts. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. While giving students awareness of the physical possibilities and limitations of the human body, it simultaneously serves as a vehicle for introducing them to the history and culture of Brazil. Capoeira, Brazilian traditional music, and storytelling are not just highly entertaining, Claudia believes, they are powerful tools for teaching. These art forms—regarded as cultural treasures by Brazilians—open young hearts and minds to the wonderful sounds, emotions, and values of the Brazilian culture through the appreciation and actual making of music.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology in addition to her SDSU master’s degree, Claudia has developed arts integration programs in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District. More recently, she has worked within the Coronado Unified School District.

Claudia uses Brazilian cultural arts to help students develop critical thinking skills, plant seeds of self-worth and value, cultivate an appreciation of equality and promote important social skills to interact successfully with others.

Claudia Lyra with berimbauClaudia brings Brazilian cultural arts to audiences in schools and beyond, through her cultural assembly and residency programs called Nós de Chita. Nós de Chita offers cultural assemblies, live music performances and workshops focused on traditional Brazilian arts that incorporate key elements of the natural environment which promote awareness of climate change for students kindergarten through 4th grade.

Claudia penned a fascinating and informative article for the CWM on the Brazilian berimbau. Read the article and see her video demonstration here.  

 

 

 

Merja Soria

Merja Soria, Singing the Ancient Memories of Finland

Merja Soria, a native of Finland, was the first Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year in 1996. She received a master’s degree in music at Sibelius Academy in Finland and has taught Finnish music at San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. In 2003 and 2006, Ms. Soria was featured in the Who’s Who in America, and in 2005 she received an award at SDSU for Academic Excellence and Community outreach. Merja has performed at the Los Angeles Music Center, Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Toronto Centre For the Arts, Peninsula Music Fair and many other music festivals in the United States and Europe.

Last December Merja was the featured performer, the “tradition-bearer” at the 2016 Christmas Revels production in Washington D.C. The show celebrates the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year shifting toward light. The performances were seen by over 10,000 people. In December 2017 Merja will perform at the Christmas Revels production in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Ms. Soria’s CD Arctic Silence is a selection of ancient Finnish songs. A song from Arctic Silence was featured on the National Geographic Television’s program Beyond the Movie: Lord of The Rings.

Merja Playing

Currently, Ms. Soria teaches the young children of San Diego at her own music school, Miss Merja’s Music Room. Ms. Soria is dedicated to performing the touching music of Finnish heritage. She combines the kantele (Finnish folk harp) and voice to sing the haunting songs of Suomi. Finnish folk poetry tells that when the first kantele was played for the first time, the sound was so beautiful that everybody started to cry; when the tears touched the water of the ocean, they turned to pearls.

Her vocals are so haunting, her folk songs scholarship impeccable . . . Soria doesn’t need to clutter songs with much instrumentation, her voice carries the day all on its own.

Sing Out!

Shalini Patnaik

Shalini Patnaik, Ambassador of Odissi Dance

Center for World Music teaching artist Shalini Patnaik enjoys sharing her ancient art form with the San Diego community. She is one of the leading exponents in her generation of Odissi, the classical dance of northeastern India, and has a passion for teaching and sharing Indian culture through the language of dance. Born and raised in San Diego, California, she traveled repeatedly to India from a young age to learn the art form directly from dance masters in Orissa. Even today, she visits frequently for further training and performances.

Her teachers include the late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan and Gurus Aruna Mohanty, Manoranjan Pradhan, and Yudhistir Nayak.

Shalini and her sisters, together known as the “Patnaik Sisters,” were selected by pop superstar Madonna to choreograph and perform for a televised performance at the 1998 MTV Music Awards. She also choreographed for singer Ricky Martin’s 2006 tour. Shalini performed for Pandit Ravi Shankar’s 90th birthday celebration and for other superstars like George Harrison and Sting. Recently, Shalini was invited by Anoushka Shankar to perform as part of her “Traveler” tour.

While Shalini has enthralled audiences across the globe, she truly enjoys sharing her art form with fellow San Diegans, and especially with students.

Shalini and her sisters, Laboni and Shibani, have been instrumental in propagating Odissi throughout North America through performances, lecture demonstrations at universities, schools, and libraries, and teaching in the Center for World Music’s Odissi School. To share their passion for dance with others brings them immense joy; in doing so, they help preserve and propagate this rich, two-thousand-year-old cultural tradition outside of India.

 

Want to learn more?

Traditional dance helps keep sisters in touch with culture, The Coast News (2012)
She matches steps in India and beyond, The Telegraph (2012)

Shibani Patnaik is a distinguished Odissi dancer, member of the Patnaik Sisters, and Board Member for the Center for World Music.

Bodhran

The Bodhrán: Ancient Sound of Irish Percussion

This article is one in a series of reports on the fascinating variety of musical instruments that audience members encounter through Center for World Music programs.


When I was a young lad in Cork, Ireland the bodhrán (pronounced bow-rawn, like cow brawn) was commonly considered as the “ancient sound of Irish percussion.”  Indeed, we are told that the bodhrán was used to summon the fairies from their magic fort on full-moon nights. Many novice players could not understand why this profound sound of the past was not widely featured in traditional Irish music sessions across the world. After all, they would say, isn’t this “the Irish drum”? Little did we know that the opposite was the case. While teaching bodhrán in upstate New York at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, I sat in on an eye-opening lecture by Fintan Vallely entitled “Hunting for Borr-án: Shaking a Stick at the Origin Myths Concerning the Irish Drum.” My world as a bodhrán player was completely dismantled.


Through long research, Fintan had found that the bodhrán has been a part of Irish music for only the last 200 years, if that. Its use was not widespread and was generally reserved for only the wildest of parties. As Fintan puts it in his notes on the talk:

“. . . what is the history of the bodhrán? What we know so far is driven by myth and wishful thinking. . . . the famous Irish drum has no ancient artistic past: at the best it was only ever just a tambourine. The Irish device, from which the word ‘bodhrán’ comes, most likely originally meant an agricultural and domestic tray or container — even a sieve. Yet the bodhrán IS around, and being brilliantly played, as solid an art and presence as the harp or the pipes. We borrowed the device from [minstrel shows] or the Salvation Army, the rhythms from dancers’ feet, and we synthesised the modern playing style from the sounds of Ulster Lambeggers, Indian tabla tippers and Scottish pipe-band snare drummers.”

Today the bodhrán is a rapidly-developing Irish drum, in both its design and its playing style. It was brought from its humble origins in rural celebrations to public attention in concert halls and theaters by Seán Ó Riada and Peadar Mercier in the 1960s, and featured prominently in the ensembles Ceoltóirí Chualann and the Chieftains. From there it has exploded across the globe and become a mainstay at many Irish music sessions and home fireplaces. Johnny “Ringo” McDonogh is noted as the first player to damp the sound with one hand on the back of the instrument, and many others have further developed this style of two-hand playing. In addition, tunable bodhráns have improved the tone more concretely, and turned the humble farm utensil into a sophisticated musical instrument.

At the age of 19, I stumbled into the Douglas, County Cork branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and promote Irish traditional performing arts. It was there that a tiny 6-inch bodhrán with a hole in it was thrust into my hands, and I was steered into a bodhrán class with teacher Eric Cunningham. The rest is history. Today, I play a 14-inch Metloef bodhrán, although many instruments of old were 18 to 20 inches in diameter. According to Fintan’s research, those larger sizes were prevalent because old spinning wheels were used as the rim of the instrument. Personally, I find the larger diameters too cumbersome, although other players still prefer them. Two pieces of wood in the shape of a cross, placed within the back-side frame are common in the larger drums, but I feel that they are a hindrance to playing the smaller instruments that I prefer.

In the past, the performer’s bare hand was most commonly used to beat the drum, as demonstrated by the great Rónán Ó Snodaigh. Nowadays, however, a stick called a cípín is typically used. Ideally, the cípín matches the length of the player’s hand, from outstretched thumb to outstretched baby finger, as this is about as much weight as any one’s wrist can withstand for extended playing. When both ends of the cípín are used, this is known as the “Kerry” style of bodhrán playing. A different style, known as “top end,” uses only one end of the stick and is characterized by a heavy emphasis on upstrokes of the cípín. 

Videos of the bodhrán:
The Gallant Fusiliers by Máirtín de Cógáin
Bodhran jigs – Karl Nesbitt & Tommie Cunniffe
www.MairtinMusic.com

Máirtín de Cógáin is an actor, singer, percussionist, storyteller, playwright, dancer, and teaching artist for the Center for World Music.

Didgeridoo

The Didjeridu of Australia

This article is one in a series of reports on the fascinating variety of musical instruments that audience members encounter through Center for World Music programs.

The didjeridu (or didgeridoo) is a deceptively simple instrument in construction. Nevertheless, it can produce extremely complex music in the hands of an expert player. It is simply a tube with no reed, finger holes or moving parts of any kind. The player creates rhythm and shifts of timbre and pitch with movement of the breath, lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, vocal cords, and stomach muscles. “Circular breathing” is employed to produce continuous sound, whether a simple drone or an intricate rhythm.

 

A rough map of the origins of the didjeridu.

Aboriginal people of northern Australia invented the instrument and still use it in ceremonial and daily life today. Didjeridu is not in fact an Aboriginal term, but an onomatopoeic word created by European settlers describing the sound produced by traditional players. There are many words for the instrument in Aboriginal languages. The best known around the world are yidaki from northeast Arnhem Land and mago from west Arnhem Land. In both regions, it is also common to hear the word bambu used. Bamboo was occasionally in use at the time of European contact, but has now fallen out of favor with Aboriginal players.

Djalu Gurruwiwi begins chopping down a stringybark tree (Eucalyptus tetradonta) to craft a didjeridu.

These days, people around the world make didjeridus out of a wide variety of materials. Traditionally, however, instruments are made from trunks of eucalyptus trees that have been hollowed out by termites commonly known as “white ants.” A craftsman scans a forest for likely instruments, then taps a tree up and down to evaluate the hollow inside. If it sounds good, the tree is felled, cut to length, stripped of its bark and carved down to match the interior hollow.

If the natural hollow of the wood at the top is too big or irregularly shaped, a material found in bee nests called “sugarbag” is formed into a mouthpiece. Sugarbag is a black, gummy substance native Australian bees make by mixing their wax with eucalyptus tree resin, not the yellow wax of European bees that is often seen on instruments made for the tourist market. Instruments made for sale or special ceremonies may be elaborately decorated with clan designs related to the artist, but most didgeridoos in everyday use in northern Australia are unpainted or wrapped top to bottom in duct or electrical tape to hold them together through inevitable cracking as the wood dries.

Milkay Mununggurr accompanies ceremonial song with a didjeridu completely wrapped in tape.

Traditional Aboriginal players continue to use age-old tonguing techniques that stem from their language and are foreign to most outsiders. As the instrument has spread globally, many more styles have developed around the world, from new age drones to beatboxing, in both solo and ensemble settings.

Witiyana Marika and Milkayngu Mununggurr of Yothu Yindi perform a
traditional Yolngu song with didjeridu

Randin Graves plays contemporary didjeridu music with guitar

— Randin Graves is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and one of the world’s leading non-Aboriginal exponents of the Australian didjeridu.

For more information on the didjeridu at its origin, visit YidakiStory.com, which Randin created in collaboration with many Yolngu Aboriginal people as part of his Fulbright Fellowship and Master’s Degree project.

Thai Jakhee

The Southeast Asian Jakhee

The jakhee (จะเข้) is a plucked string instrument with three strings and eleven wooden frets, found in Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. The name is derived from the Thai word for crocodile, jaurakhee, because the body of the instrument is shaped like a crocodile, and it is sometimes elaborately carved to represent one. The body is made from wood, often from the jackfruit tree, carved out of one piece and covered with a flat lid on the bottom which has sound holes and five short legs.

Crocodile Jakhee

To play the jakhee, the player tightly ties a large pick to their right index finger. The right hand rests against the body of the instrument and the hand rocks back-and-forth over the strings in an arc-shaped motion, plucking strings individually or strumming across all three. The pick is often made from hardwood, bone, ivory or ceramic. The instrument itself can be decorated in elaborate patterns with gold paint, mother-of-pearl, lighter colored wood trim, bone, white resin or ivory. It has two silk or nylon strings, tuned to Do and Sol, and one metal string tuned to Do an octave lower, and they are strung over a curved bridge that gives the instruments a buzzing timbre, similar the javari bridge on Indian instruments such as the sitar.

jakhee-supeena

Supeena Insee Adler playing jakhee

Traditionally, a player sits with legs folded back to one side on the floor behind the instrument, but today it is common for the instrument to be elevated so the player may sit on a chair. The jakhee is often played as a solo instrument, but it is also found in classical ensembles, including the khrueang sai (stringed instruments) and mohoorii ensembles.

The stringed ensemble consists of one jakhee, one sau duang (two-stringed hardwood fiddle with python skin), one sau uu (two stringed fiddle with coconut shell body covered with cow skin), one khlui (wooden vertical flute), thoon-rammanna (a set of two drums), and ching (cymbals). It originated in the royal palace and is often used in entertainment settings, at schools, universities, communities, and temple festivals, and funerals.

The khrueangsai pii chawaa ensemble

The khrueangsai pii chawaa ensemble

Another, much rarer, kind of ensemble combines the small stringed instrument ensemble with quadruple-reed oboe and a pair of drums (klaung khaek). It is called khrueangsai pii chawaa, or stringed instrument ensemble with Javanese oboe. This ensemble is closely associated with royalty and plays both entertainment and ritual music, and was the subject of my Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California Riverside, entitled Music for the Few: Nationalism and Thai Royal Authority.

This article is one in a series of reports on the fascinating variety of musical instruments that audience members encounter through Center for World Music programs.

Want to see videos?

Supeena Insee Adler demonstrating the jakhee at UCLA. View here

Chin Kim Yai performed by Saharat Chanchalerm and orchestra at the Thai Cultural Center in Bangkok, Thailand. View here.

Thirty-five jakhee players perform at the funeral of their music teacher, khruu Thaungdii  Sujaritkul. View here

A khrueangsai pii chawaa ensemble performing at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. View here.

Supeena Insee Adler, Ph.D., is adjunct assistant professor at UCLA, ethnomusicologist, and performer. She also teaches Thai music at the Thai Buddhist Temple in Escondido, California.