Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Namaskaram from Kerala!

Constance and Amy here! Sitting in our room, surrounded by the odour of insect repellent and Amy's sat under the mosquito net..

After only arriving three days ago, we're settling in pretty well in our two main school bases, the Centre for Development of Music Studies (CDMS) in Trivandrum and the Asian Christian College of Music (ACCM) in Kottayam. We have been welcomed and very well looked after so far by Abraham, the chief executive, and the staff and students of the schools. Abraham has provided for us well, feeding us with (apparently milder than the norm) curry and the like. From the moment we arrived and got picked up from the airport, we were spontaneously scared for our lives at the site of the Indian roads - sheer hecticness! (Though we are starting to find it more exciting now..) It's also a norm for Air India to leave your suitcases at Mumbai while you fly off to another city apparently, as ourselves and six other Indians found out.

So far we've only spent a little time at CDMS but we'll be returning there on weekends. We were there for 6 hours on Sunday, teaching piano, keyboard, guitar (!?), and also held a pop singing workshop with the youngsters of age 8-18 - they are all so lovely, obedient and responsive...  We taught the piano and keyboard students one after another and instantly noticed that they have a common ability of playing music from memory quickly, struggling with sight reading and general musical knowledge also. They are all taking LCM graded exams in October and it seems that the focus is now on the requirements of these. The keyboard concept is new to us but this is more popular among the students, possibly because the musical effect is more instant for them - the right-hand melody they play is basically accompanied by the keyboard itself, with all of its different sounds and effects. Even from this short session, we have realised the need to work on the general musicality of the students.

Abraham asked us last minute to hold a pop singing workshop with a small group of students, which went well considering we didn't have much time to prepare. We started with some vocal and physical (much to the students' amusement) warm-ups, including stretches, octave jumps on 'brrrrrr'-sounds (lip-vibrations), breathing exercises.  We also taught them the sol-fa names, which led us into 'Do-Re-Mi' from The Sound of Music,which the students enjoyed doing the actions to.  Following this, we worked on the Abba tune 'I have a dream', teaching them to sing in canon in the verse and 2 parts in the chorus.  (Brief clip posted below).

On Monday, we headed out on a 4 hour journey to Kottayam to move to ACCM.  Had a lovely Indian breakfast en route, with really cool inflated pancakes! (and of course curry...).  On arrival at the college, we were greeted by the principal and the students that we would be working with, receiving a warm welcome in the form of a guitar song by one of the second year students:

Then today, we have taken our first workshop at the college, titled 'Rhythm and Metre'.  The students struggled to identify or clap the rhythms in the beginning, but it appeared that the workshop really helped them to understand pulse, note values, and rests, as well as becoming more confident in clapping rhythmic figures. We played them Steve Reich's 'Clapping Music' and then got them to create their own 4 bar rhythms (in common time), which they practised, and clapped back to us. We then got them to clap their rhythms together in time (to be posted on the following blog post, think we've used too much space on this one...)

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