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Máirtín de Cógáin

Máirtín de Cógáin, 21st Century Irish Storyteller

We warmly welcome Máirtín de Cógáin, who joins World Music in the Schools as a teaching artist in residence.

Máirtín de Cógáin-drumming-2Center for World Music artist in residence Máirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, story-telling bodhrán (Irish frame drum) player, who also is a noted playwright and actor. He performs all over the United States, as well as in his native Ireland. An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of all audiences, from concert halls to intimate porches.

Descended from a long line of storytellers, Máirtín is the winner of two All-Ireland awards from Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. He often tours with The Máirtín de Cógáin Project, The Fuchsia Band, or Gailfean. A true promoter of “the Ballad,” he searches for those forgotten songs of old and breathes new life into them, as well as writing some new songs of his own. Máirtín learned from many famous Irish singers such as Danni Maichi Ua Súilleabháin, Séamus Mac Mathúna, and Ciarán Dwyer. He is a fluent speaker of Irish (Gaelic) who was brought up in a bilingual home, and attended primary and secondary schools taught in Irish. Máirtín holds a degree in the Irish language from University College Cork.

Máirtín de Cógáin-drummingIf not on stage singing, storytelling, dancing, or playing the bodhrán, Máirtín is treading the boards as an actor, notably in the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley. He has co-written many productions with the Be Your Own Banana Theatre Company, recently playing De Bogman off-Broadway in New York.

Máirtín has been playing the bodhrán for many years, learning first from Eric Cunningham (The New De Danann) and later from Colm Murphy (The Old De Danann). Máirtín has taught bodhrán technique at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, Augusta Irish Week, as well as giving workshops at major U.S. festivals including the Kansas City Irish Fest, CelticFest Mississippi, Minnesota Irish Fair, and La Crosse IrishFest. He also gives private lessons in the San Diego area and along the road while touring.

Máirtín de Cógáin-dancing

A traditional brush dance with his father Barry Cogan

Growing up in a house full of dancing, Máirtín helped teach the steps at the family-run céilís (social gatherings) from an early age, and now teaches the folk dances of Cork to dancers everywhere.

Máirtín makes friends wherever he goes. In a very short time, de Cógáin has become a regular performer at some of the most prestigious Irish festivals in the U.S. Although he can often be found leading a tour group in Ireland, or entertaining guests on a traditional Irish music-themed cruise ship, he now spends most of his time in California, where he lives with his wife Mitra and their young son, who shows great promise as a dancer and bodhrán player himself.

Want to learn more about Máirtín and his career? Visit www.MairtinMusic.com. You can also catch him on YouTube telling a story or singing with friends.

 

Fandango at Eduardo's

Eduardo García, Building Community Through Son Jarocho

Professor Eduardo García, a member of the San Diego-based son jarocho group Son de San Diego, teaches in the School of Arts at California State University San Marcos. He is also, we are proud to say, a teaching artist for the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program. He has delved deeply into the study of son jarocho, the traditional music, dance, and songs of Veracruz, Mexico. His focus includes the instruments, the style of music, and above all creating a safe place for learning music and building community.

cynthia-_-eduardo-garciaEduardo’s interest in son jarocho regional folk music was sparked by an immersive study trip to San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico in 2002. His journey to the home of son jarocho inspired his study of the tradition, taking him through many varied experiences in community-based music.

He believes it is important for young people to have access to as many musical cultures as possible. This global arts-based approach to learning brings the world to his students, and broadens their perspectives and sensibilities.

This particular music of Veracruz—son jarocho, son abajeño, or música de cuerdas, as it is known in different areas of the Sotavento region—is important because at its core lies the central component of cultivating community. Whether playing, singing, or dancing, this music is not created as a solo venture: it is a shared social activity. The instruments, the call and response nature of the singing, and the communicative percussion of the dancing between singers and musicians, creates myriad social and musical interactions. It is a social music, and Eduardo has tried to remain true to this central aspect of son jarocho music as he continues his efforts to cultivate a similar musical community in the San Diego region.cwm-festival-5-13-son-jarocho

— Cynthia Carbajal, Teacher at Lexington Elementary School in El Cajon, CA and Teaching Artist for the CWM’s World Music in the Schools

Read more about Eduardo García’s contributions to San Diego and his bridge-building efforts through the musical tradition of son jarocho:  

Sharing Music Across the U.S.-Mexico Border’s Metal Fence, New York Times — May 29, 2016

Son Jarocho Creates Community on Both Sides of the Border, KPBS — May 30, 2012

 Wu Man Makes Pipa an Instrument of Change, San Diego Union Tribune — May 8, 2014.

Watch a video:

Wu Man and Son de San Diego collaboration at the Carlsbad Music Festival.

Brain of a Drummer

The Neuroscience of Drumming: Researchers Discover the Secrets of Drumming & The Human Brain

Ever wonder if the configuration of a musician’s brain is distinctive? Neuroscientist David Eagleman confirmed that this is the case through an experiment in musician Brian Eno’s studio. He found that professional drummers have “different brains.” Eagleman’s work and related studies are discussed in a fascinating Open Culture article.

Eno . . . theorized that drummers have a unique mental makeup, and it turns out “Eno was right: drummers do have different brains from the rest.” Eagleman’s test showed “a huge statistical difference between the drummers’ timing and that of test subjects.” Says Eagleman, “Now we know that there is something anatomically different about them.” Their ability to keep time gives them an intuitive understanding of the rhythmic patterns they perceive all around them.

For more, read on here.

Nomsa Burkhardt, Teaching the Traditional Music of the Zulu and Xhosa Peoples of South Africa

The Center for World Music would like to welcome back Nomsa Burkhardt to our family of outstanding teaching artists in residence, rejoining our World Music in the Schools program.

Update: Congratulations to Nomsa Burkhardt, Teaching Artist for the World Music in the Schools program, for winning a grant from Rising Arts Leaders San Diego to attend the Teaching Artist Institute.

Born in Soweto, Center for World Music distinguished teaching artist Nomsa Burkhardt is an extraordinary South African musician and dancer. She spent her formative years in KwaZulu, Natal, a region famous for its rich Zulu heritage and culture. There, she studied various traditional dance styles with master dancers, such as Indlamu, ukuQhobosha, and ukuSina. After immigrating to Philadelphia, she co-founded the African dance troupe HIMOSHA. Her artistic skills and passion for dance quickly propelled her into serving as both the director and lead choreographer for the troupe for seven years. She collaborated with well-known Philadelphia-based South African multi-instrumentalist and artist Mogauwane Mahloele at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center, and at many universities and schools. She also performed and conducted workshops annually at the Philly Dance Africa Project. In 2000 she returned to South Africa to study with the accomplished ethnomusicologist Prof. Meki Nzewi at the University of Pretoria. Upon her return to the USA in 2004, she joined the Grammy-nominated South African band Sharon Katz & The Peace Train. As part of the Peace Train Project at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, Nomsa was instrumental in developing a teacher-training program that focused on South African history and conducted a series of educational performances. Nomsa has toured throughout the USA, South Africa, Israel, Italy, and Germany. She is the co-founder of IZINDE, an Afro-fusion band composed of performing artists from around the world.


RALSD LogoUnder the sponsorship of the Center for World Music, Nomsa was selected in September 2017 to participate in the Teaching Artist Institute, a professional development program offered by Arts for Learning San Diego, 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. Nomsa was awarded a Virgil Yalong matching grant from Rising Arts Leaders San Diego to support her participation in the Teaching Artist Institute.


 

Nomsa Burkhardt at Garfield Elementary

Nomsa Burkhardt at Garfield Elementary

Nomsa is a distinguished teaching artist for Center for World Music’s NEA-funded hands-on schools program. Her student-centered curriculum exceeds California arts standards by bringing joy and heartfelt fun into San Diego classrooms, while addressing core learning outcomes. Through the study of the traditional music and dance of South Africa, Nomsa’s classes focus on the importance of history and culture in the creation of music, the use of musical instruments, and the expression of community unity and collaboration through the performing arts. Students learn the geographical origins of musical instruments, increasing their global awareness and providing them with a global context to the music and dance of Zulu and Xhosa cultures. Nomsa integrates the science of making musical instruments in her program, and her students enjoy a diversity of music-making through singing and games that involve stories and simple songs, enhancing the connections to other disciplines such as literacy and math.

World Music in the Schools and the children of San Diego are fortunate to have Nomsa Burkhardt spreading joy and understanding through the traditional music and dance of South Africa.

Maluju – Stop Xenophobia By Nomsa

Video of Nomsa teaching South African Zulu Music and Dance

Hardanger Fiddle

World Music Instrument: The Hardanger Fiddle

 

Hardanger Fiddle

Illustration by Paul Johnson

The fiddle is one of the most common instruments, found in one form or another in nearly every part of the world. It is best known today as the violin, which found its present form in sixteenth-century Italy.

Other bowed instruments have emerged in a range of cultures from Iceland to India. One of the most charming, both in the auditory and the visual sense, is the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle (also known as the hardingfele). This close cousin of the violin developed in the Hardanger district of western Norway, southeast of the port city of Bergen. It was developed by makers who probably combined aspects of the old Norse fiðla with the viola d’amore, one of the relatives of the violin. It seems to have first appeared in the 1600s, and quickly became popular throughout the region. Isak Neilsen Skaar and his son Trond Isaksen were two well-known early makers of the instrument. During the period from 1825 to 1875, the Helland family of Telemark brought the fiddle to its highest point of development. Jon Erikson Helland and his sons Erik Johnsen Helland and Ellef Johnsen Steinkjøndalen brought an exceptional degree of craftsmanship and artistic ability to their fiddlemaking, and incorporated a number of worthy improvements.

Several features make this instrument distinctive to Norway: the use of eight strings (only four of which are played with the bow; the other four vibrate sympathetically), the dragon’s head in place of a scroll, the overlapping f-holes, and the lavish use of inlay and decoration. Many fiddles have elegant floral drawings covering their surfaces, and often the peghead is detailed with gold leaf. There are also important structural differences, among them a lack of interior linings, very small corner blocks, and a bass bar which is carved into, not glued to, the sound board. The fingerboard and bridge are often nearly flat, allowing the player to bow more than two strings at a time.

The hardingfele is played in a variety of tunings; among them the common violin tuning GDAE (low to high) with the sympathetic strings tuned DEGA. Another is ADAE with DEF#A. The sympathetic strings give this fiddle’s sound a delightful coloration, with dark, shimmering undertones.

The folk fiddling of Norway draws one back to a simpler time, to a time of hard work at the loom or in the forests and fjords, of long winter evenings spent singing around the central fireplace, and of solemn processions and joyous wedding feasts with family gathered from afar.

A video of Sindre Vatnehol playing the Hardanger fiddle

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. 

For more information on recordings, performances, instruments, and strings, visit the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America at http://www.hfaa.org.

Jonathan Parker  is the World Music in the Schools program director for the Center for World Music.

This article appeared in slightly different form in the November 1989 issue of the San Diego Folk Heritage journal Folk Notes.

World Music Instrument: The Jarana Jarocha

Jarana Three SizesThe jarana is an eight-string, five course instrument typically used in son jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico. This style is also called música de cuerdas or son abajeño in other areas within the larger region of Mexico known as the Sotavento. The first and fifth courses of the jarana are single strings, while the second, third, and fourth courses typically consist of double strings. The most common tuning is G C E A G. The jarana, like many other stringed instruments in the Americas, is a Mexican adaptation of the Spanish vihuela.

There are typically several different sizes of the jarana, often played together, and sometimes using different tunings within the same ensemble. The three sizes of jarana shown in the photo are called tercera, segunda, and primera.

Luthiers (lauderos) carve the body, neck, and peghead of the jarana out of a single block of wood, with a thin soundboard glued to the front. Mexican cedar is the traditional material used in making these instruments, although woods such as mango, walnut, and others have more recently been used. For tuning, friction pegs made from a harder wood (much like those on a violin) are commonly fitted. The strings, formerly gut, are now made from nylon.

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. 

— Eduardo García teaches jarana as an artist-in-residence for the Center for World Music, and is a professor in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at California State University San Marcos.

The CWM uses jaranas in its World Music in the Schools program made by Victor Francisco Siono: Taller de Lauderia. Guitarras de Son, Marimboles y Jaranas Victor Siono

Watch luthier Caramino Utrera Luna make a jarana.

Some video examples of jarana playing:
https://youtu.be/7hcIH-5nVug
https://youtu.be/H6Y4HmSDTXs

 

Mark Lamson: Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian Drumming

The Center for World Music would like to recognize Mark Lamson for his  dedication as an outstanding teaching artist in residence for World Music in the Schools.

Mark LamsonCenter for World Music teaching artist Mark Lamson is a highly acclaimed percussionist, ensemble director, recording artist, producer, educator, and one of San Diego’s best-recognized authorities on Cuban and Brazilian drumming and percussion. As a valued instructor in our World Music in the Schools program, he has taught the exciting rhythms of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian drumming, communicating concepts in music, math, collaboration, and culture to hundreds of San Diego school children in his classes.

Mark has seven recordings and countless performances to his credit. He is known for his professionalism, expertise, and experience in playing a broad range of musical styles, and for assembling ensembles featuring top-notch talent. While Mark’s repertoire includes R&B, rock, Latin jazz, New Orleans brass band, funk, and hip hop, his true passion lies in fusing the popular and traditional music of Brazil and Cuba, with modern American and Latin American styles.

Based in San Diego, California, Mark is the director and lead percussionist for Sol e Mar, a dynamic Brazilian/Latin music collective which he co-founded in 1985. Sol e Mar can deploy anywhere from 3 to 50 performers, ranging from a bossa nova jazz trio to a full drum bateria replete with Brazilian samba dancers in full Carnaval regalia. In 1994, Sol e Mar won “Best Latin Band” at the Second Annual San Diego Music Awards.

Mark Lamson at Bird RockMark is an adjunct faculty member at San Diego State University and has also taught at Santa Clara University in San Jose, California, at California State University Long Beach, and at Palomar College. He is a sought-after workshop leader and lecturer, and has been invited to teach and speak at institutions of learning across the United States and around the world.

Check out Mark’s website at https://marklamson.com/.

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.

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

 

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