This month will be a great time to be homeschooling in Bahrain, because we have a ‘Spring of Culture’ month. And at home we’ll be having music and performance month to capitalize on all the great musicians and entertainers coming to this tiny, troubled island.
I just attended a free workshop by ‘Dan Zanes and Friends’ this morning (www.danzanes.com) held outside, by the sea, by the ancient Bahrain Fort. How cool is that! The kids and I went to the concert last night and it rocked! I wish the kids had been able to come to the workshop this morning but kids were excluded. Not a good policy. I think kids like my son would have benefited very much from attending.
When I got up this morning, this was in my email inbox – http://moderndaychris.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/music-in-education/ Serendipity! I just emailed the link to the Dan Zanes website because it was just what we were talking about this morning at the workshop – the importance of music in a kid’s education. There are two kinds of benefits. This link addresses the benefits in terms of contributing to success in a conventional sense – like how music improves test grades.
But the more important benefit that I learned about today was much more interesting I think. Dan, and at least some of his fellow musicians, emphasized the importance of listening and ideally participating in music as a family. He advocated that we don’t just put on a CD for the kids and do the washing up in the other room but that we stay and listen and clap and sing along and ideally, DANCE along. Who cares what we look and sound like, we need to model the enjoyment of music without judgement, without worrying how good we are at singing or dancing.
Even better, of course, is to play instruments with the kids. Again, let’s do it as a family, he said and let’s not worry too much about how we sound but rather how much fun we’re having. He pointed out that these days there’s so much access to teaching on the internet, often free. He said an instrument like the ukulele is incredibly easy and fast to learn and he apparently even has tuition videos on his website. Youtube is of course another resource. I want to go out and buy 4 today and have a little home band! Why not? We’d have so much fun! I’ve just got to find out if we can buy them anywhere on the island! He also said that you can make your own instruments- again there are plenty of resources on the net. Or just use two spoons! Eleanor, the violin and trumpet player played the spoons to great effect this morning as part of the band!
Dan also felt it was very important to choose music that reflects the world as it is in all its diversity. So, the band plays music from different traditions in a few different languages. I love that. And the band members are working on producing music from even more cultures which I can’t wait to hear.
I got a chance to speak to Tariq who is the Palestinian Bazouq player I mentioned yesterday. He himself spoke about how playing the Bazouq/Oud really helped him get in touch with his culture, which is something I mentioned in yesterday’s post I thought could be the case for Edward. He had been made to play the piano growing up and only picked up the Bazouq at university. But that hasn’t held him back! He is now focusing on trying to write music for children/families that reflects children as they really are – mischievous and challenging, not just little angels the way he says they are always portrayed, especially in Arabic music, not that there’s much music for children or families in the Arabic culture, he said, and most of the favourites are not contemporary, such as Fairouz or even older.
I have been so inspired by ‘Dan Zane and his Friends’ and I really hope I can enthuse the kids with my enthusiasm over the next few weeks to do more than just sing along madly in the car, as we usually do. I feel so proud that my son often arrives at the supermarket singing Bob Marley’s ‘Buffalo Soldier’ under his breath! Maybe he can take some spoons along and play it too soon! Rock on!
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