Click on picture below to go to pictures from our first day with the kids:
|First day of teaching|
Today, we started with a plan, but no plan on sticking to that plan. We were going to have four classes of 30 kids, but we ended up with some classes of 55, and some classes of 20. I think we rolled with the punches very well. At the end of the day, we were really happy with the results of the day. We saw kids from about age 9-13, and accomplished sizing the kids on instruments, getting them started with basic Suzuki-type musicianship (lots of rhythm games involving “Wish I had a Monkey” instead of “Taka Taka Stop Stop”), and introduced them to bow holds.
We found that there were quite a few magnificent bow holds, which you can see on the above Picasa album, and in general, the posture was very natural — not as many twisted spines during sizing as we had seen in the States. Personally, I think that’s because they don’t really know what to expect, so their bodies are totally at rest. They are not trying to be violinists, whose backs look all twisted up to the untrained eye.
The grounds for the kids are really amazing, in many ways. Many of the kids are orphans. The kids do not have to pay for going to school, but they do have to pay for uniforms and books. The Bishop Lawi Imathiu is responsible for the building of grounds on which we were teaching. On these grounds, there is a primary school, secondary school, and a polytechnic school (which is like a trade school for woodwork, sewing, automechanics, etc.). The headmaster is very excited about our being there. The teachers have anywhere from 15-55 kids in one class. The accomodations are sparse at best – they have bathrooms, which are pictured in the above Picasa album. They also have classrooms, but sometimes they have to carry their chairs from class to class because there aren’t enough to go around. The classes have cement floors, with cinder block walls and windows. All the kids sleep in dormitories on the grounds, and you can see the lines of laundry drying in my Picasa album as well.
We are very excited about tomorrow. We will review bow holds, teach them for the first time with instruments, and hopefully make some sounds with the bow. Stay tuned!
Fun facts for today: There were three elephants across from the school, just wandering around when we left the school. We could see their ears and the tops of their heads. We’re hoping for another full-on elephant spotting on the road. Also, the electricity seems to brown out often – it has already gone out about 20 times tonight. Lastly, I have discovered that Larry has an amazingly dry and hilarious sense of humor. I never knew it!
About the above video: Boniface, the band director here, started playing the violin yesterday. I taught him Twinkle at a very rudimentary level, and he learned very quickly. We probably had a 5 minute lesson yesterday, and that was it. Then today, he got another mini-lesson from Ann, which probably lasted another 5 minutes. He then practiced for a few minutes in the corner and gave a performance of Twinkle. Considering the small 10 minutes of attention that he got from us, he did a phenomenal job in his performance. He played for a group of the kids, who watched with great interest. We all think it was brave of him to perform with such little experience, and the kids seemed interested to watch someone from their community playing the violin.