INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Brushing Away the Tumbleweed

 

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jerry
Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Feb 26, 2002 12:39 p.m.


Hi all
Kinda quiet round these parts lately.
Here's a thing I could use some thoughts on.
A friend of mine is a primary school teacher (she teaches 8-9 year olds) and her topic with her kids this term (semester) is, guess what? INDIA.
She's asked me if I wouls bring the sitar into school to show her kids, play it a little and give them an outline of Indian music.
She's no expert herself so she's giving me a very free brief.
What do you think I should cover? I don't want to get too heavy with the musicology, but thought I'd try to get across the 'more melody less harmony' principle.
Could use some suggestions. I will take a CD too so they can here it played by a master as well as a minnow!
Russ
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Feb 26, 2002 01:14 p.m.


Hi Jerry;
Yeah, I was kinda missing my weekly "sitar fix". Thanks for getting on.
To do this and make it work, think like a 9 year old. They get bored easily! Something lively like a dhun in a thumri style would be good. A dhun is typically a classical raga done in a "folksy" style minus the very involved alap,jor and jhalla. Also usually more upbeat and rythmic.
I wouldn't try going into the structure of a raga, way too involved. Maybe just mention that Indian music is based on conveying human emotions in the form of sound for an audience, and like you said, based more on melody and rythmn than complex chords and scales. Play a few of the scales for them.
I actually did the same thing for a speech class I took in college many years ago. A little talk plus a demo with my sitar. Only difference is my audience was around 18 or so (and so was I actually). Good luck and have fun.
Lars
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Feb 26, 2002 09:49 p.m.


Hmmmm.........9 year olds?? Weeelllll, you could eat a nice big portion of 7 bean soup for lunch and then make various bodily noises while playing. Hehehe.....just kidding......I have no good advice on what to play for them. When I was 5 or 6 in the 1st grade, I remember a guy came to our school and played a sitar. I don't remember what he played but have had the instrument in mind every since! Have fun Jerry.......how's the lessons going??
mash
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Feb 27, 2002 04:01 a.m.


hi jerry..my sitar teacher actually plays things like twinkle twinkle little star and blends it perfectly with some taans!!..i've heard it and it does sound good..also gets the kids attention..

jerry (Feb 26, 2002 12:39 p.m.):
Hi all
Kinda quiet round these parts lately.
Here's a thing I could use some thoughts on.
A friend of mine is a primary school teacher (she teaches 8-9 year olds) and her topic with her kids this term (semester) is, guess what? INDIA.
She's asked me if I wouls bring the sitar into school to show her kids, play it a little and give them an outline of Indian music.
She's no expert herself so she's giving me a very free brief.
What do you think I should cover? I don't want to get too heavy with the musicology, but thought I'd try to get across the 'more melody less harmony' principle.
Could use some suggestions. I will take a CD too so they can here it played by a master as well as a minnow!
Russ
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Feb 27, 2002 04:05 p.m.


Hey Jerry;
Don't know if you've already done your show and tell yet, but if not, couple more thoughts. I teach as a part of my job, so these came to mind.

Your teacher friend might want to show slides or overhead transparencies of pictures of places and things in India. Take a look at Buckingham's webpage on the tour of Miraj. If you have the time, you could make some blow up printer copies, turning them into transparencies of a few of the pictures of their sitar-making. I wouldn't think Peter would mind borrowing a couple of shots for a kids' class?

If you have an Indian kurda (long tunic), take it with you and wear it as you play. Some kids are impressed with clothes too (girls anyway..). Looks kinda cool too, part of the whole sitar scene I think. I have one I bought in San Diego years ago.

You might bring up how Indian music got mixed with rock music in the sixties with the Beatles/Stones/Byrds and Ravi Shankar. Kind of a side line, but they most likely will still relate.

You might also want to compare and contrast sitar with guitar as they will already relate to guitar. Talk about the curved and raised frets, the two layers of strings and what they do, the two gourds and how they work. Stuff like that. You will get the obvious question - Is it hard to play? I'll leave that up to you.

OK, thats' enough. Remember 9 year olds have a fairly limited attention span. So, don't stay on any one subject too long!

Ken
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Mar 01, 2002 04:45 p.m.


Hey Jerry:
Good stuff for the kids. I've done a number of school programs (but with bagpipes) and Russ is right about dressing the part, the kids really light up. Try to keep everthing as simple as possible and get ready for the questions they'll ask, they'll be simple too but just might stump you. I got my kurda from www.shalincraft-india.com. If you order the men's shoes send them your foot size in inches and they'll select the correct size for you..Their service is really fast and they stand behind their products, my kurda, w pyjama was $30.
You'll find school programs a lot of fun, take notes when the class is over for your next one. Good luck....ken
Lars
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Mar 01, 2002 11:51 p.m.


A little OT, but hey Jerry....there's a fellow on the tabla board who may live near you (Brighton) looking for someone to play with, has 1 1/2 years experience on tabla...........
jerry
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Mar 02, 2002 02:11 a.m.


Thanks for all your tips. Really appreciated. I'll be going in in a couple of weeks and I'll post a full report!
jerry
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Mar 18, 2002 03:35 p.m.


Well, today was the day that the Mangla & I took ourselves over to Wateringbury Primary School and introduce ourselves to Miss Baron's class for their India topic.
I've got to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Spent an hour with them. They listened to a little 'light' Kafi from me and then, so that they could hear what a real player sounds like, I played them the last 3 minutes of Nikhil's Sindhu Khamaj, complete with a blistering call and response with his tabla player.
They'd obviously been well primed for the event 'cause they were very excited about it when I arrived and were absolutely FULL of questions. Anything from ' do you prefer Ragas or Bhangra music?' to 'How much would your sitar cost in rupees?'! They were so inquisitive and eager to learn it was really quite inspiring. Of course they loved that I had to take shoes and socks off, and they loved that the gourds were actually a kind of pumpkin, but they were genuinely interested in thte musical stuff too. Miss Baron had introuced them to some sounds already so that when I asked 'Who likes Indian music then?', all 28 raised their hands.
I found myself reflecting on the way home what a service that teacher is providing for those children. They will never grow up in a generation that thinks this music sounds like a scalded cat - 'that strange wailing stuff'. At the very least they will respect it and never disparage it, and at best it will be a joy to them for life.
Good for you, Miss Baron. And if I played a small part too, that makes me feel good.
Russ
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Mar 18, 2002 05:21 p.m.


Sounds like a day well spent! Good for all of you. I don't doubt they will remember you and the music too. A little "light Kafi" in the morning doesn't hurt either (ha). Also sounds like the kids were prepared and already a little knowledgeable, especially with questions like those. Did you ever get a Kurta tunic? If you ever perform, goes well with the music, plus a little incense.
K.K.
Re:Brushing Away the Tumbleweed Mar 18, 2002 07:31 p.m.


Congrats Jerry! Sounds like it was a great success. - K.K.
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