Spotted in Manila, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Young Conductors

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been learning about conducting in my 2nd grade classes. Since we have been working since October to gain a deep understanding of pitch, tempo, dynamics, and rhythm, I asked the students to create their own conducting systems in small groups that they would demonstrate using a simple class song, "Dum Dum Da Da". As usual, I was amazed at their clever and creative ways of meeting my challenge. Many groups demonstrated their systems with one designated conductor, or several, and used their entire bodies, rather than just their hands like an unimaginative "grown-up" like me would do. One group even used a series of yoga poses--each one representing a different musical element and change--to conduct the class song.

We continued this conducting work by learning the patterns and techniques of professional conductors. Many of these techniques were already being used by the students: extending and broadening their hand motions to signal a louder dynamic, moving quicker or slower to show changes in tempo. So the only new technique we needed to learn was the conducting patterns of music in 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 time. Of course, they picked this up rapidly and were excited to practice these patterns as conductors in front of the class.

All of this work culminated in watching a performance of Leonard Bernstein conducting his own work Overture to Candide. I chose this video because Bernstein was not only a master American conductor, but is very entertaining to watch as he shows so much personality and character in his conducting. The music itself is also very beautiful, and changes between each of the conducting patterns we studied in class. It was a great couple of lessons and now I am excited to see them continue to use conducting in their compositions each week. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Project Philippines 2014

I am thrilled that I will be returning to The Philippines this summer as a teacher with Project Philippines 2014 and Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), an established non-profit arts organization in New York City. The project has expanded this year to not only include classes in music, dance, and visual arts, but also drama! I am so happy the project is growing and I am honored to be a part of it again.

Please join us for a night to benefit our project: March 7, 2014, 7:30pm at the Philippines Center (556 5th Ave, New York, NY). The suggested donation is $20 for a night of performances in music, dance, and drama, an art show, and silent auction. Hope to see you there becoming a part of our project!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trade Winds Update

On this "year off" from planning a trip to Kenya, Trade Winds has been working hard to stay connected to the community in Nairobi by hosting mini-projects from here in the US. Here are descriptions of these mini-projects:

  • Offering Skype lessons to band students of the Nairobi School on all instruments
  • Hosting a bassoon reed collection drive for bassoon students at the Rift Valley Academy
  • Selling MP3's of student compositions at the Rise and Shine Academy to create a scholarship fund to help lower the cost of student tuition
  • Performing a benefit concert for Kenya Red Cross in reaction to September's Westgate Mall attack

None of this would be possible without the support of our friends and colleagues who have joined our mission. THANK YOU!

Also please enjoy this video with footage from our trip. The end of the video shows the students singing their class compositions about community. The lyrics you'll hear include "my role in the community is to help elders and poor". It is so special to me that these children who live on so little, still sing about striving to help others. We should all learn from this. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Putting it all into words

As a Gluck Community Service Fellow at Juilliard, I have the rewarding opportunity of performing interactive concerts at various healthcare facilities across New York. Today, I performed at the Jewish Guild for the Blind and following our performance, a man described music in the most beautiful way, I had to share it here. Thank you, sir, for putting into words what I try to do every time I pick up the bassoon.

"When I hear you play, the music caresses my heart and embraces my whole being."