Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reflections on The Nile Project: First day of the Musician Residency - Blog 2

The Fekra Cultural Center from across a small bay. The Philae (Isis) Temple sits directly behind

Right off the bat, you will be glad to know that I am exactly where I need to be. There are no words to describe the gratitude I feel for this opportunity to be in Aswan at the Fekra Community Center for these couple of weeks. I am so appreciative for the all moments and decisions that have brought me to this place. And so I appreciate all my readers (my friends and family) for the encouragement you may have directly or indirectly given to me. Thank you for that.

The smiles of the Nile Projects co-founders Mina Girgis and Meklit Hadero right after the musicians have all introduced themselves and their instruments.

Please hang in there with me as I process all of this so my brain won't explode! This is the first day the musicians are here and it's taking a moment to settle in.

Today have been thinking about the reasons why I was so initially drawn to The Nile Project. It was like a magnet right from the beginning. From first knowledge, I could see that this is the sort of project I needed to be part of as ethnomusicologist. It was "a dream come true".

As a student of ethnomusicology, I was aware that I loved music and was fascinated by the reasons why and how people create it. But this project has brought to surface the logical application of this passion and reasons I was not initially aware of.

This is sort of the logical and emotional journey of how I got here:

  • I love music
  • I love making music and I love witnessing the joy of its creation and performance 
  • I am passionate about sharing this joy with others, whether it is through performance, education or simply listening
  • I want to improve lives. Providing joy in a moment of musical creation and performance is one thing, but making someone’s day better because they can feed their children, live peacefully with their neighbor, and not have to worry about survival is something else entirely different.

Musicians from Ethiopia and Egypt jam for the first time

The Nile Project uses music as a medium to bring about larger conversations to improve lives and communities. Bringing these musicians together is a microcosm of what we would like to bring about in Nile Basin communities: come to together to learn,  respect eachothers rhythms and negotiate compromises for peaceful co-existence.

Egyptian singer Dina El Wedidi performs in the musical instructions. Gil Giberto is her mentor.  I asked her to give me a voice lesson or two while we're here.
So, at the moment I am sitting outside the tent listening to a musical jam from musicians from three different countries. The vocalists are sitting on the roof teaching each other songs, and two percussionists are sitting in a house down the road learning traditional rhythms from their respective countries. It's going to be like this all day and all night for the next two weeks.

This is like wandering down the practice room halls of a music conservatory. All the beautiful cacophony. It's one of my happy spots.

The vocalists sit on the roof teaching each other songs.
It's amazing to watch a percussionist from Egypt teach a rhythm to another musician on a completely different instrument. Witnessing the learning of different scales is just as incredible.

I cannot even fathom the music that will be created here in the next two weeks. I can’t wait to hear it. I can’t wait for YOU to hear it.

And, we are still waiting for musicians from Kenya and Sudan to arrive.  So there is more to come. Way more.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The second Bay Area Ladies Rock Camp a raging success

Me at Ladies Rock Camp 2009 playing the bass with Mama and the Tweets

Just this last weekend was the Bay Area Ladies Rock Camp. I wasn't a camper this year, but put in some time making dinner for the 25 campers and 20 volunteers. I also went to the showcase on Sunday. It was a lot of fun and moving as always (I always cry a little).

I am proud to have been responsible for two of the campers this year: my friends Marla and Crystal. Both learned to play the drums. Marla is in this video below with the crazy green eye-shadow. Crystal, originally from Vancouver, came up from LA for Rock Camp.

Crystal said:
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I've learned that you can do anything and it's never too late...

After the performances, numerous people came up to me to give me hugs and high fives. They couldn't believe it was my first time picking up drumsticks 3 days ago. They were amazed at how great I was.

Being someone who is generally uncomfortable with praise, it was so crazy. Who knew I was a drummer? Even though I've always wanted to do it, it wasn't until now that I took the opportunity to do so. I'm so glad I did it. As it turns out, I AM a drummer.
Each Lady Rock Camper's tuition for the weekend goes directly to a girl camper that would not be able to afford it otherwise. At the Bay Area camp, 50% of the girl campers are on some kind of scholarship.

Rock Camps are popping up all over the country and all over the world. There might be one in your city. I HIGHLY recommend that you check it out for yourself, your mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, step-mom and friends. It is super fun and maybe one of the best weekends you will ever have.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

President Obama declares October National Arts and Humanities Month: celebrating music education

Like February is African American History Month and March is Women's History Month, President Obama has declared October National Arts and Humanities Month. There are events planned all over the country this month to celebrate.

According to the National Agency of State Arts Agencies, National Arts and Humanities Month's four primary goals are to:

- Create a national, state and local focus on the arts and humanities through the media (which is where I come in)

- Encourage the active participation of individuals, as well as arts, humanities and other interested organizations nationwide (keep on reading... there's a list of my favorite music organizations, please comment below and tell us what yours is!)

- Provide an opportunity for federal, state and local business, government and civic leaders to declare their support for the arts and humanities

- Establish a highly visible vehicle for raising public awareness about the arts and humanities

The proclamation by President Obama states:
"Every American deserves an opportunity to study, understand, and contribute to the arts and humanities. This must begin in our schools, where children may have their first and most important exposure to these disciplines."
I'm glad to see the federal government at least showing some kind of public support for the arts and humanities. We can talk all day about how we need to put arts education back into our schools, but until the cash shows up, that's all it is: talk. And until schools start seeing this money, we have arts organizations to help take the place of music and art education.

To read more of my article click here

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Photos from the History of Women in Rock Girls Rock Camp workshop

Always More to Hear has made it to the big screen!

I thought this would be very meta... pictures of the blog on the blog. For those of you who teach using youtube videos, this is a great way to get everything in the same place. Putting everything on a blog was very helpful. This way, campers can go back to the entry, watch the whole video and learn more if they want to.

One of the Girls Rock staff members borrowed a digital projector from a friend, so all we needed was internet and a computer. We also got the audio patched through the PA so the music was nice and loud.  Big Mama's Hound Dog sounded really good.

For the most part the campers seemed to like the workshop, it gave them some down time to basically sit and watch tv.  Who wouldn't like that? I hope I get to lead this workshop next year, it's really fun.

Jennie introduces the workshop

Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing in the Street"

Sleater-Kinney and Riot Grrrl

Dolly Parton and her "Coat of Many Colors"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Secretary for the Arts: Sign the petition!

If you read this blog, I would assume that you value the arts.  

If you haven't signed Quincy Jones' endorsed petition demanding the creation of an Arts Secretary, please sign it now.

Watch Quincy talk about Obama and their plans to expand the arts and education.

Very exciting!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Girls Rock Camp, Poison Apple Pie and Female Empowerment

                     Splash!  photo courtesy of bagrc on flickr

It's about time I blogged about one of my favorite things that I am proud to be part of in this lifetime: Girls Rock Camp, the promotion of women in music and in the arts and entertainment industry in general.

Girls Rock Camp started in Portland, Oregon in 2001 with the mission of building self-esteem of young women through music creation and performance. The concept has since exploded nationally and internationally with dozens of new camps popping up in new cities every summer (I believe there will be around 50 worldwide in the summer of 2009). As each camp develops, organizers and supporters get more ambitious; there are Lady Rock Camps (for us older girls), documentaries, after school programs, tours, showcases and even more exciting, bands that met through camp but gig on their own.

Just watch: music is going to be very different as these girls grow up. Has anyone else noticed how more and more women are popping up in indie bands? And not just as the singer or keyboardists!

Here's the trailer for the Girls Rock! documentary:

When I lived in Austin I helped out the Girls Rock Camp director in her endeavor in initiating the first camp in Austin. I helped the younger girls, all around 10 years old, write two songs: one about the ghost Bloody Mary, and another one about ice cream tummy aches. When I saw them perform, I bawled my eyes out in shear joy. I was so moved and inspired by them.

Girls Rock Camp Austin is now going into it's third year growing to include several sessions a summer, a South by Southwest annual showcase, and Lady Rock Camp. The Mayor has declared December 11, 2008 the Official Girls Rock Camp Day. The girls are taking over Austin!

Now that I live in the Bay Area, I'm lucky to also be riding in the wave of the first-ever Bay Area Girls Rock Camp. This past summer, I volunteered as a band coach for the band Splash! I helped the three twelve-year-olds and one 8-year-old write a song about: what else, writing a song!

At camp we made fanzines (out of my old Spin Magazines, go recycling!), silk screened Splash!'s bands logo onto t-shirts, learned about self-defense and self-image and more. It was awesome. We had the end-of-camp showcase, where every band performed the song they wrote during camp, at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco.

I was so inspired by these girls and the community that rallied around them.

In the band Splash!, I met a 12 year old drummer named Torrey who also played guitar (and rather well I might add). She wanted to learn more. She's now my private student and she's awesome. Even though I'm certainly not the most accomplished musician (I'm going to be learning my guitar scales with her!) there's so much I can teach her. We've been singing, tuning guitars, replacing strings, learning more chords, fingerpicking patterns, music theory, some piano and yes, learning to read music.

Torrey had been wanting to learn "Blackbird" for a couple months and I kept telling her, "yeah, we'll do that, but you have to learn basic fingerpicking patterns first." I went away to Australia for two weeks and when I got back, whaddaya know, she's learned Blackbird! Just like that! Gawd it took me months to learn it! Amazing. This girl is a human sponge!

Anyway, Torrey and two of her friends (one of them also a former member of Splash!) are now in a group called Poison Apple Pie. So far, they've performed at a wedding and a Girls Rock Camp fundraiser.

Here's Poisen Apple Pie performing REM's "The One I Love" at Art Murmur on first Fridays in Downtown Oakland. Torrey is the drummer (you can't really see her, but you can definitely hear her). She's awesome, I'm so proud of her. It'll be a sad day when I have nothing left to teach her. But until then, we'll be playing.

If you would like to donate to Girls Rock Camp, click here to get to their website and navigate over to the "get involved" tab on the left. The rock stars of the future will appreciate it!

There will be a fundraiser at the El Rio in San Francisco on December 14th, as part of the 50 Shows in 50 States benefit that the Portland Girls Rock Camp has organized to raise money for the Girls Rock Camp Alliance.

If you want to find out more about a Girls Rock Camp near you, go here.

And also, if you're interested in girl empowerment in general, check out Saturday Night Live Amy Poehler's new project Smart Girls At the Party: an online website celebrating girls who are changing the world by being themselves.