After a slow start in which many lessons were cancelled, things have started moving very quickly. The One World College of Music runs as a musical community in which students are encouraged to spend quite a lot of time participating in musical activities aside from just instrumental lessons. Musical ensembles and bands can use the college as a space to rehearse and workshops are taken in which they get to sample instruments other than their own, learn and improve their theoretical knowledge and hone in on specific elements such as rhythm or songwriting. This idea of a community extends to the staff as well who have weekly meetings in which they develop ideas and share teaching methods in order to develop and progress themselves as teachers.
Being assigned ensembles to work with already within a week of arriving, I found my lack of knowledge of instruments other than my own (predominantly piano, flute, voice) to be a burden and upon discussing this in a staff meeting we agreed that it would be beneficial for the teachers to teach each other so that we all have a basic theoretical and practical understanding of as many instruments as possible. Thus, I have found myself being given drum and guitar lessons which comes in very handy for the more creative workshops in which I can instruct real beginners on how to play basic drum riffs and how to find various chord positions on the guitar. I think this environment in which everybody is learning gives more motivation to the teachers and, through making everybody both student and teacher, dismantles a lot of potential hierarchies.
I have taken on the challenge of organizing and carrying out a ‘launch party’ for the school, which only opened this year. The aim is to hold an open evening where workshops are conducted by various teachers and students enabling potential students, parents and the general public to attend and participate to see what actually goes on here. Following this, a concert will be held, showcasing various ensembles and concluding with a choir concert.
I have been taking choirs every Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon since we decided to go ahead and turn the idea into a reality and, with many of the students struggling to pitch notes of the Western scales, this has certainly been a challenging experience...
In addition to working at the One World College of Music, Rosie and I have been teaching three mornings a week to the children from the Sankalp school - an NGO run school which runs on volunteers and donations. This provides an interesting variation in our teaching and our main duties, as requested by the head teacher, are to ‘train them fully in preparation for a singing concert.’ Thus, we set about teaching them ‘My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean’ and have recently moved on to a couple of rounds and trying to explain the difference between a crochet and a quaver.
I have agreed amongst the children that I will teach them music if they teach me Hindi and so, every so often one of them whispers something in my ear - for example 'aapko class kaisa laga' means 'how did you feel the class went?'. When I pronounce it wrong with my English tongue, they all laugh uproariously!