Before heading back to California for the holidays, I
spent a couple of weeks in Philadelphia and New York for two different El Sistema-related symposiums. These events coincided with the tour of the Simon
Bolivar Orchestra, the top orchestra of Venezuela. It seemed somewhat of
a blur--so many faces, concerts, and conversations. So instead of
tackling everything, I’ll focus on my own personal buzz--a realization that I
came to. I’m calling it the Right to React.
In Philly, I was part of a three-day discussion track regarding promising teaching practices in El Sistema-inspired programs. I worked closely with a percussionist teaching artist who constantly finds ways to weave improvisation into his classes. Given my classically oriented background, improvisation and composition have always been so foreign and intimidating to me that I have simply ignored any opportunities to partake in them. Only very recently have I had an inkling that, despite, its anxiety inducing tendencies, improv could be sort of interesting. I tried doing it a couple times, and I had the equivalent reaction of my cat when he used to prod at plastic bags and then immediately dart the other way. But when I was in Juneau in November, I played an entire set with a band in which I was improvising the whole time, and felt so musically satisfied that I thought--going along with this cat analogy--that maybe I should stay and sniff that plastic bag.
Continue reading on my personal blog.
Sistema Fellow '13