Posts

One of the most important things students do in Miles Shrewsbery’s music classes at the Museum School and at Hawking Charter School is take off their shoes.

This is no ordinary music class. An American tabla artist and teaching artist for the Center for World Music, Miles instructs students grades K–6 how to play a North Indian percussion instrument called the tabla. An essential part of studying the tabla, like many traditional world music instruments, is the passing on of the symbolic meaning and special significance of the instrument and its cultural origins. Miles teaches the geography of North India, its language, and the stories about the history and masters of the instrument. Students also learn the various customs surrounding this musical tradition.

“These elements are inseparable from the music. The context of music is what creates the unique feelings and expressions from a given culture,” says Miles.

MIles SchoolMiles teaches his students that playing the tabla is more than the physical act of playing the drums. It’s also about understanding a worldview — something that Miles came to realize through his own study of the tabla in India and the US.

From the moment Miles first heard the tabla at age 17, “it was love at first sound.” He had an immediate connection with the instrument, even though he knew nothing about India and its culture.

Miles’ teachers, Abhiman Kaushal and Pandit Nandkumar Bhatlouande of Hyderabad, India, educated him about the rich context in which the tabla originates. “In addition to practicing, I studied the language, values and the cultural practices. For example, I learned about respect  and responsibility for one’s family, one’s teacher and to the tradition of the tabla — the whole interchange.”

Removing your shoes before playing the tabla is one of the practices Miles encourages in his students. He explains, “we remove our shoes just before playing the tabla. Why? On the practical side, most activities in India are traditionally done sitting crossed legged on the ground, so this is a way of keeping the space clean. On the spiritual side of things, the idea comes from within Indian music. We believe that the instrument is a pathway to God, so in a sense, removing your shoes signifies both respect and cleanliness to the instrument and what it represents. We also never step over the instrument, much like the Indonesian gamelan, because it is disrespectful to show the bottom of one’s feet toward something as sacred as an instrument.”

The students of the Museum School and Hawking Charter School are exposed to many of the most important skills, knowledge, and wisdom Miles has gained from his years of dedication to the tabla. Each student is now part of a long continuum of musicians who have passed down the artform within one of the oldest musical traditions in the world. Not bad for an elementary school music class.

“We really underestimate how much children can register when it comes to developing a broader cultural understanding,” Miles says. “I’m always amazed at how much children can master, both at the level of playing the instrument and of understanding the cultural nuances of the tradition. I wish adults were such quick studies!”

 

Profile picMiles Shrewsbery is an American tabla artist and disciple of Sri Abhiman Kaushal and Pandit Nandkumar Bhatlouande of Hyderabad, India, as well as a co-owner of Avaaz Records. Miles is trained in the Farukhabad Gharana of his teachers and is a respected performer of its rich, aesthetic repertoire through his years of dedicated study and practice. Miles has performed all over the world in prestigious venues such as the Symphony Space (New York City), Smithsonian Museum (Washington D.C.), Tokyo Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo, Japan), Royal Horticultural Hall (London, England), and St. Paul Cathedral (New York City). He has performed with top musicians such as Shujaat Khan, Deepak Ram, Googoosh, Cheap Trick, and Yusef Lateef. Some notable soundtracks and recordings where Miles’ tabla and percussion can be found are: Sinbad (Dreamworks 2003), The Rundown (Columbia 2003), The Riches (FX 2007), Yusef Lateef and Adam Rudolph – Into the Garden (Meta Records 2003), Dave Stringer – Divas and Devas (Spirit Voyage 2007), and Dave Stringer – Yatra (Silenzio 2011). In 2004, Miles earned a B.A. in ethnomusicology from UCLA, and in 2009, he earned an M.A. in ethnomusicology from UCR. In 2012 Miles was awarded the American Institute of Indian Studies’ Senior Performing Arts Fellowship, which supported Miles to further his studies and practice in New Delhi, India for one year. Currently, Miles is a teaching artist in residence for the Center For World Music in San Diego, California.

 

To see video of Miles performing, please visit these links:

Traditional:

House Concert in New Deli, India

Tabla Solo – Delhi Kaida

Contemporary:

Eight Dollar Watermelon

Chasm

Natasha Kozaily grew up on the small island of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean Sea, 180 miles south of Cuba and 195 miles west of Jamaica. Her parents came from opposite sides of the globe (her mother, a native Cayman Islander, and her father, far from his native Lebanon), resulting in Natasha’s deep love and curiosity for the wide world around her. This can be seen throughout her music, teaching, art, and life.

Natasha has been a teaching artist for the Center’s World Music in the Schools since 2015, when she conducted a 12-week residency teaching Caymanian song and folklore at the San Diego French American School. Natasha has subsequently taught for the CWM at several other schools, including Hearst Elementary and the Museum School, where she also teaches ukulele and songwriting.

A nomad and creative tour de force, Natasha embraces the arts in all its forms. Lover of the stage and theater, she honed her craft at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City where she graduated in 2007. She studied classical piano from the age of seven, and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Cardiff University in Wales, specializing in Ethnomusicology. Her undergraduate ethnomusicology thesis entitled “An Island’s Story: Told through the music of Julia Hydes” is celebrated and treasured as the first and only in-depth writing on Caymanian folk musician and drummer, Miss Julia Hydes (b. 1909, d. 2015). In 2014, Natasha was honored in celebration of Cayman’s National Heroes Day with The Emerging Pioneer Award for her significant contribution to the culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands.

After graduating, Natasha moved to San Diego, California where she now writes, records and performs music under the moniker NATULA. When Natasha is not touring she enjoys sharing the gift of music with others, teaching private piano, ukulele, and voice to students of all ages at Kalabash School of Music and the Arts in the Bird Rock neighborhood of La Jolla. She also teaches various workshops on Caymanian Folk Music and Songwriting to kids and adults in San Diego and abroad. She believes that music is not only a wonderful tool for self-expression, but also a key to understanding ourselves and humanity in this beautifully diverse world we all belong to.

Pak Djoko Solo Festival

Djoko Walujo Wimboprasetyo, respectfully addressed by his professional colleagues and his adoring students as Pak Djoko (“Father Djoko”), is one of the most highly regarded senior performers of Javanese classical music. An esteemed artist, court musician, and composer, he is one of the most sought-after instructors of Javanese orchestral music in the world. Pak Djoko is a distinguished grand master of the Javanese gamelan—an orchestra of some twenty musicians that varies in size, instrumentation, musical style, and social function. Typically, however, a Javanese gamelan includes tuned bronze gongs, gong-chimes, single- and multi-octave xylophone-like metal instruments, drums, flutes, bowed and plucked stringed instruments, wooden xylophones, and both male and female singers.

Pak Djoko at CCA

For more than two decades, Pak Djoko has directed Javanese gamelan ensembles at the California Institute of the Arts, at the Los Angeles Consulate General of Indonesia, at UCLA, at UC Riverside, at San Diego State University, and at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego.

As a dynamic teacher of university students as well as K-12 children, Pak Djoko recognizes that gamelan is an excellent tool for music education. Indeed, anyone can learn to play gamelan, since no previous knowledge or experience is required, one learns and plays by ear, without written notation, and the simple playing techniques of the various instruments makes the musical experience almost instantly accessible to children and adults of all levels alike.

Pak Djoko studied gamelan music in Java from an early age, under the tutelage of many well-known and distinguished gamelan teachers, including such luminaries as Raden Lurah Dhamowijoyo, Raden Ngabehi Prawira Pangrawit, Raden Mas Handoyo Kusuma, Bapak Harjaswara, Bapak Sunardi Wisnubrata, Bapak Promono, and Bapak Hadi Sumarta. He continued his studies in music at the Indonesian Arts Institute, Yogyakarta, and also in Indonesian law at the University of Gajah Mada. From 1975 until 1992, he served as professor of music at the Indonesian Arts Institute, after which he accepted the position of visiting artist at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Significantly, Pak Djoko’s most distinguished teacher, K. R. T. Wasitodiningrat, a revered senior Javanese gamelan teacher residing in the United States, selected Pak Djoko to be his successor as the Javanese gamelan teacher at the California Institute of the Arts.

Pak Djoko has performed widely, composed award-winning music for Javanese dance-dramas and shadow-puppet plays, or wayang kulit. He has received awards from the Javanese Ministry of Education, the Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Radio Republic of Indonesia, and the Governor of Central Java.

Canyon Crest GamelanAs the musical director of the Javanese gamelan ensemble at San Diego State University since 1992, and at Canyon Crest Academy since 2010, Pak Djoko has been the revered teacher of many students in San Diego. For the past five years, he has served as distinguished teaching artist for the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program, which is partially supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. He has also served as artistic director of the Center for World Music’s gamelan festivals at Canyon Crest Academy and Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla.

At his home in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Pak Djoko hosts musical soirées—in support of local Javanese musicians as well as for American university students studying gamelan in Java or traveling to Java in search of deep cultural immersion.

—Lewis Peterman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, School of Music and Dance, San Diego State University

Kin Ho and Jeanne Cate Teaching

We continue a series of articles featuring the wonderful teaching artists of World Music in the Schools:

Spend some time in San Diego folk dance circles, and there’s someone you’re sure to meet pretty quick. That would be Kin Ho, CWM teaching artist, performer and instructor of traditional folk dance genres from around the world. Everywhere you look in the local folk dance circles, you’ll find Kin as performer, teacher, and organizer. He finds that students in the Center’s World Music in the Schools program respond well to the movement and rhythm (and fun!) of folk dance, and that—when opportunity presents—their parents enjoy joining in.

Kin was born in Canton Province, China. His family moved to Hong Kong when he was a toddler, and he spent his school years in that cosmopolitan city learning and performing international folk dance and Chinese traditional dance, including the Lion dance with drumming. After immigration to the United States, Kin taught and directed the Chinese Folk Dance Troup of Stockton. Moving to San Diego some twenty years ago, he performed with San Diego State University’s yearly International Folk Dance Concerts. He has taught folk dance classes extensively to both adults and children at all levels and at a variety of festivals and events around San Diego. Through San Diego’s International Dance Association, which sponsors the folk dance classes that he teaches in Balboa Park, Kin is involved with the planning and presentation of several annual folk dance festivals at the Balboa Park Club. He also teaches Greek dancing at the Folk Dance Center in North Park.

Kin’s wife and partner in the folk dance scene, Jeanne Cate, is likewise prominent in the San Diego folk dance world. Indeed, Kin and Jeanne were recently featured in an article in the San Diego UT. Jeanne also often helps out in the World Music in the Schools classrooms.

Both enjoy “spreading the old-country spirit” through dance. Everyone who learns one or more of these international dance traditions, Kin says, carries “a little corner of the world” with them.

Kourosh Taghavi

San Diego Participant Observer, March 12, 2015

Kourosh Taghavi, master of Persian classical music and pillar of the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, is featured in an article by Amanda Kelly.

Kourosh Taghavi, instrumentalist, vocalist and Persian classical musician boasts a passionate approach to music that has impacted audiences around the world. His collaborative projects with master musicians and local cultural organizations work to fulfill his lifelong dream to promote Persian classical music. . . .  “It is a very holistic approach to music instead of just notation and sounds,” he says. “Your daily life is so attached to your music and your music is so attached to your daily life they are almost inseparable.”

Read the full article here.

The San Diego Participant Observer is published online by the Worldview Project.  It is a great source for keep up-to-date on cultural goings on in San Diego and environs. Thanks to Tom Johnston-O’Neill and the dedicated crew at the Worldview Project for their support of World Music in the Schools and other Center for World Music projects!