[Dixielandjazz] KIDS & MUSIC -YES, EVEN OKOM.

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 8 06:42:29 PST 2004

List mates:

BLUE GRASS AND THE RESPONSE. (Near the end so stay with it)

Steve Barbone

December 8, 2004 - NY TIMES - By MELINE TOUMANI
Culturally Worlds Apart, Children Touch Musically

A favorite platitude of concerned New Yorkers these days is to lament the
downfall of arts education, in a city where the arts are everything. But the
news is not all bad, and at Zankel Hall on Friday, New York City public
school students cashed in on their privileged location.

This event, in Carnegie Hall's annual series Global Encounters, was far from
just another field trip to see the symphony. It was a simulcast music
exchange in which 450 students in New York and 200 more in New Delhi
listened to music together, chatted with one another and danced, with the
help of a 22-foot-wide movie screen and some good speakers.

As the season opener for a distance-learning project devised by the Weill
Music Institute, Carnegie Hall's educational arm, the presentation suggested
that world music may be the new lingua franca between the arts establishment
and diverse city students. It also showed how high-band-width
video-conferencing technology can transform social studies and musical

The event's host, Nick Spitzer, who produces the public-radio music show
"American Routes," welcomed the New York students with an ambitious
directive: "Our job is to make New York look good, and make America look
good. This is a great chance to talk to the world."

A moment later, they were doing just that. The huge screen in Zankel Hall
came to life with a real-time broadcast from the Sai International Center in
New Delhi, where Indian students dressed in sharp blazers and ties gathered
under the direction of the renowned Indian drummer Sandeep Das. Mr. Das and
Mr. Spitzer greeted each other over the screen, and suddenly several hundred
teenagers sat up. Even in the era of Internet and cell phones, this was
pretty cool. 

The students in both countries had been learning about each other's music,
dance and history for several weeks in preparation for the live exchange. So
the Americans knew they were hearing southern Indian music when they watched
a 13-year-old violinist, Ambi Subramanian, playing live in New Delhi along
with musicians on the mrindangam, a double-headed drum; the ghatam, a
clay-pot-style drum; and the morsing, or jew's-harp.

The Indian students were similarly primed when a four-piece bluegrass band
took the New York stage for a demonstration of traditional Appalachian
music. As the group fiddled, it seemed entirely possible that the music -
not to mention hillbilly culture, as portrayed in a short video - was as
foreign to the New York students as to those in India.

Hollis Headrick, the director of the Weill Music Institute, points out that
this emphasis on regionalism and on avoiding stereotypes is the key to this
season's Global Encounters, a project now bolstered by the technological
resources of Zankel Hall. Mr. Headrick said that Mr. Das, who has worked
with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, wanted Indian students to see that
there is more to American music than MTV.

Exposing students to northern and southern music in India alongside northern
and southern music in America was one way to explore the complexity of
regionalism. To that end Friday's program also included documentaries about
each country's geography, a northern Indian giddha dance set to live music
in New Delhi and a New Orleans brass band that strutted up the aisle of
Zankel Hall playing explosive jazz.

David Johnson, a social studies teacher at Martin Van Buren High School in
Queens Village, attended with 30 of his students. Mr. Johnson, who has
participated in three previous distance-learning events through Global
Encounters, called the high-tech spectacle "an apotheosis" in comparison
with a straightforward concert or a dry classroom discussion. With the
students allowed to communicate directly with their peers - as happened here
when students on both sides lined up to ask each other questions about
music, dance and life - they are "awakened to their role in the world and in
New York City," Mr. Johnson said.

Meanwhile, as Mr. Das played tabla alongside Amar Ali Banglash on the sarod,
a fretless string instrument, it became evident that the bluegrass and the
Hindustani music had things in common: the combination of sweetly whining
strings and rhythmic adrenaline, and a certain understated balance, with no
particular instrument hogging attention.

Mr. Das compared his tabla playing with the sound of the subway rumbling
alongside Zankel Hall: "Here comes the train from New Delhi to New York," he
shouted over the screen, and tore into a rattling crescendo, which captured
perfectly the event's relentless excitement.

The finale was a jam session over the oceans. The musicians in New Delhi
established a rhythm, the bluegrass band in Zankel Hall gradually matched
it, and eventually the brass band worked its way into the mix. Soon
everybody was playing "Sweet Georgia Brown." A troupe of dancers in New
Delhi twirled to the familiar refrain, their hands in the air, and the
principal of Delhi Public School, Dwarka joined them as the American
students clapped in time.

Global Encounters will continue at Zankel Hall through the spring, with
professional development courses for New York teachers, a simulcast choir
rehearsal involving students in three states in January and an interactive
musical game between students in New York and Hawaii in February.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list