Friday, 11 March 2011

Retrospective memories of WAM

To all the readers who may be looking at our old blogs and deciding if a) you want to apply to teach in India as we did, and b) are you right for this scheme? Let me right down my thoughts as they are today, nearly a year since I went for my interview that gave me the most memorable experience of my life.

Teaching in India is SO different, you simply cant imagine! I was in Gurgaon teaching in Lorraine's Music Academy (or Music Studio as it used to be). For a start, the emphasis is on progressing as quickly as possible. This can come through a series of short cuts. You are told where to put your hand, your teacher writes on the paper a series of numbers to represent fingers and plays you the tune e.g. 3-2-1-2-3-3-3, 2-2-2, 3-3-3, 3-2-1-2-3-3-3, 2-2-3-2-1, and there you have it, "Mary had a little lamb". Note perfect, memorised rendition. The child before you cannot necessarily tell you what notes he/she has played, but then neither can they reach the floor!

You find these shortcuts all over the place: numbes, letters, no recognition of notation, rests etc. There is very little knowledge of correct posture, hand position, grace, interpretation, musicality or all the "stuff" you come to expect and take for granted over here. To understand why this is allowed to happen you must get to understand the mind-set of Indian families. They want to push their children, they want them to succeed, there is a huge level of competition between families and sibling rivalry galore! This reflects society - absolute poverty lives side by side with wealth. In India, this is a daily reminder why you must achieve. Remember: you are working with the privilaged families who can afford to send their children for lessons.

I worked initially with Lucie and later, Helen. I cannot emphasise how much I loved living and working with these girls. Oh, and our adopted lil' brother, Ed. It's good to have someone to talk to at the end of the day and compare problems and ideas with. Ed was based in Performers collective and I must say a HUGE thank you to the teachers there. They made us welcome (bought us Pizza Hut the first time we met them incase we didn't like curry), socialised with us and gave us acsess to their school to practise on their pianos. They are a very good school and addressing the balance of proper tuition and theory and use experienced performers as tutors.

So I suppose my role primarily in the school I was based in was to teach music making, music appreciation, singing and piano. With singing the biggest problem I faced was that Hindustani singing is very nasal and the soft pallate does not naturally lift as it would in a Western style. Even by the end of my teaching, some of the children still did not manage to maintain the open pallate for an entire song.

Musical appreciation would range from smaller groups where we would sit on the floor with notation cards and play find the note, pair the octave, name the note, how many notes apart (intervals) in order to improve their recognition and remove their need to constantly touch a piano and work secretly on theory. Other times it would be large groups of up to say 16-18 of us in a small hot, humid room with no air conditioning...but gosh I wouldn't have changed it for the world. The children loved it. Sometimes Helen would be with me,especially when we had a little boy with special needs as she had a masters in music therapy. To see that littl boy work with her and smile in that class full of other children still sticks in my mind. We played clapping games, trained like a choir, sang unison songs, action songs, rounds - all the things we grew up with that they just haven't done before. What is great is that the older ones work with the younger ones and we all mucked in together.

Piano lessons were a little more frustrating, as personally you can see the flaws and as it says on the 2009 blog and so many of my fellow WAM 2010 bloggers, many teachers do not know that they are teaching flaws. My tip is this: NEGOTIATE TIME WITH THE TEACHERS IMMEDIATELY otherwise you will be teaching one on one as we did and you know that really, things wont change when you leave. It is true that largely they need to expand their repertoire away from exam pieces. I found the best way to do this was with duets. They simply have not done multi-hand work (for youngsters I love "The joy of duets") and the children loved it. The more you push them to be more independant and read notation for themselves, with only minimal help written in, the more they found that they could do without me which was fantastic. I got the feeling that the teachers (who were mainly students themselves in our school) were teaching pieces that had been taught to them and maybe they had forgotten how it should sound occasionally and rhythms/notation/pace slipped.
The electric pianos are well used - probably the most practical instrument in the heat and humidity apart from in the frequent power cuts (that happen ALL the time) when the back-up fails. Not all of the keys work, the pedals dont work and you dont always have a piano stool so a little person is far too low down. However, an acoustic would not stay in tune. Whilst we taught in 3 rooms, violin, guitar and theory lessons would all be going on in the waiting room - chaos! But fair play to the people there, they just got on with it. This isn't the case in more established schools where you might have networked clavinovas or a small room with a proper one-to-one situation.

The concert we did was a lovely culmination of piano solos, duets, singing, ensembles and a choir. I am proud. Although the venue looked impressive, the carpet simply ate the sound which was a shame. The children turned up dresse in the most beautiful clothes have ever seen. The colours, the! I played a duet with one of my best and quick students (Vidyot) and several of my best singers with pure voices (who could maintain that Western style I highlighted earlier) sang songs from musicals. Lucie and Helen's students played piano pieces and we all got together to perform as a choir. Well done to all.

Now the side away from the work. Living in India is a daunting experience initially. Crossing the road is so hard - traffic doesn't stop for the lights and cars, bikes, rickshaws, motorbikes, camels and elephants drive on any side of the road! You simply have to have good look and weave across. Beggars see white people and are attracted to you, it is quite overwhelming at times. I am very blonde and that was a little overwhelming with staring and people wanting to touch your hair, children wanting to shake your hand, but you get used to it. Instead of seeing tanning adverts on TV, you see skin bleaching adverts, which are bizzare! Listen, you're going to have to get to like curry...morning, noon and night! But the food is so amazing - Indian food over here is just so tasteless now I've experienced those fresh immense flavours!

We got to do sight-seeing too as there was quite a bit around Delhi, lots of tombs! Also parks, mosques (we had to wear ridiculous things at one of them), Sikh temples with music ringing out and golden domes, markets....I cant explain what a privilage it is to see. The people you meet are lovely and so hospitable.

We did 2 longer trips to the Taj Mahal (well we had to!) and an over night stay in Jaipur. BEWARE we had a tout nearly trick us off the train when we went to the Taj. You take your passport to a travel agent, you tell them where you want to go and when - they give you options and you book with them and pay, collect your tickets a couple of days later. You do not need to confirm with anyone else. Jaipur was a great overnight place - I think it was like £10 to stay overnight in a simple, clean hotel (you need your passports to check in anywhere so don't forget them). Our rickshaw driver in Jaipur was awesome - it was pimped out in blue leather with red stars and had a CD player playing Backstreet boys announcing the arrival of the Westerners haha! We used our own money to fund these trips.

With some Indian friends I also went to Rajastan and zip wired between the hills an visited an abandoned hill fort in a village where they had never seen a white woman, let alone light hair. The village seemed to turn out and follow us. I also went swimming in a lake (bit of a risk) and even a brand new hotel with a friend and used their pool and experienced fine dining.
I loved the tea! I really miss the hot, sweet spicey massala chai and the gentle refreshing cashmerie tea.

I went out as an experienced teacher with many resources, books and ideas. I really hope I rubbed off on the children in a way that lasted more than just the 2 months I was there. I could see that they enjoyed having us around. You see the delight in their faces at being shown something new. They are enthusiastic and want to learn and it's a joy to teach them. It's so sad saying goodbye. I wish I was going back to do it all again. But now it has inspired me to go and set up an exchange with a music school in Kenya and the school that I teach in now. Not quite the same, but tentative steps in helping children enjoy musical tuition they might not be able to have otherwise. Do it, go for it, you will have the time of your life and you will help the children more than you know.

Good luck future WAMers! x

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Mission accomplished!

Life has been super busy since returning from India and, following those last two crazy weeks in Mumbai, I still haven’t caught up on my sleep. Hibernation is inevitable. But having dealt with the reverse culture shock and gotten used to the deafening silence when sleeping at night, I am extremely eager and excited to return to India and continue with my work at the Garodia School. For the sake of completion, however, I must write about the events of those final weeks…

On Sunday 22nd August Aaron and I hosted two three-hour workshops for music teachers in Mumbai; however one group of teachers had travelled over 200km to attend!! The workshops were presented on behalf of Trinity Guildhall and organised by Furtados (a leading music store in Mumbai and across India!). Over the two workshops there were 80 participants, with ages ranging from 20-60 years; however, age aside, we had them all up on their feet and moving as part of our interactive workshop: Fun gets results.

Since arriving in India our main objective has been to make music fun and enjoyable. This is vital for the student, but also just as important for the teacher. The passion and enjoyment should be naturally transmitted through the teacher and our workshop explored ways in which lessons could be more varied and improved, finding fun ways to gain musical results. The other big point was to remove the emphasis on assessments: if pieces, sight-reading, aural, improvising, scales etc are always taught in the context of exams, then there is not the same sense of freedom and enjoyment through learning and exploring music! Also, music taught in such a way threatens to instil a fear of mistakes… Not fun. Not good. So what did we do?

Well, we made it fun for the sake of being fun! We started with a nice Brahms duet to set the mood, a short introduction, and then everyone on their feet. In a big circle we played various games, all intended to show how you can learn things (best) without even being aware of it. We talked about exams and how they are just stepping stones in the context of a wider goal. We discussed how ensemble playing (duets, trios etc) can be a fun way to address sight-reading, explore new repertoire, and develop the social and fun aspect of practising and playing. At this point we had some volunteers from the audience sight read a few piano trios: one piano, six hands – very cosy!

We discussed Kodaly and solfa by giving a demonstration lesson, firstly with rhythms – at one point we had everyone marching around in a big circle chanting and clapping in response to Aaron’s directions, in what looked like some bizarre ritual! Nonetheless, it was all very fun and we soon went onto singing using solfa, which included singing in parallel seventh chords and singing a simple canon Are You Sleeping whilst walking around the room. Then some listening and responding to music, emphasising the fundamental importance of being able to respond emotionally and personally to music. Then some tips on scales and playing them in pairs (thank you Nadia from the WAM Induction Course!) and sight-reading. Then a bit on improvising and the importance of exploring your instrument and getting away from this right or wrong answer approach to playing and finally a Q&A session.

We tried to make the session fun yet informative and the participants responded well, getting involved and asking lots of interesting questions. The teachers were very positive and many already shared some of our ideas, which was great. We simply wanted to provide them with some tools to help very their lessons and develop essential skills in a fun way. We finally summarised by coming back to our title of the workshop. We extensively went on about fun, but purposefully didn’t mention results. Of course, like an ‘unexpected’ twist in any Romantic Comedy, we concluded that our idea of results are not marks on a page, but, more importantly, musical results. TA-DAAAA!!!

The following week on Thursday 26th August we also conducted two more workshops organised through the British Council, which specifically targeted students from poorer backgrounds. The workshops took place at the Jawahar Bal Bhavan centre, Charni Road, which is one of many centres established as part of a national scheme to develop the creative potential of students by offering extra-curricular activities, especially within the arts. In each two-hour workshop there were around 40 students, selected from 4-5 different schools, aged 10-13 in the first workshop and 14-16 in the second. With no instruments and only one CD player, we conducted another interactive workshop, working a lot with body percussion. Having done a few successful workshops together, Aaron and I decided to follow a similar format to those before. Again we started with some fun games in a big circle at the beginning, introducing each other and generally creating a more fun and informal atmosphere. Then some listening and responding to music, which included two teachers showing off their Hindustani vocals! And I’m not talking about Aaron and I… Then we finished with an introduction to rhythm solfa, creating our own rhythms, and experimenting with layering them and performing them together. We had a lot of fun, made a lot of noise and the kids loved it! They were a pleasure to work with and responded well to all the activities we’d planned.

Finally back to the Garodia School and our biggest project – the final student concert on Sunday 29th August: A Music Extravaganza. In the last few weeks we rehearsed together with many of the students we’d been involved with from the Garodia School and its Music Conservatoire. It was an eclectic programme, with piano solos, piano trios, violin solos and duets, singing solos and duets (with one choral arrangement of a song), some songs by the year fours from The Swinging Piper (a show we have been rehearsing with the younger children over the two months), and a big cheesy finale piece with everyone (violin, recorder and vocal solos, three-part chorus, keyboardists, and lots of percussion), which was our own version of Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus. This came together really well and the students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to all be part of a big finale piece of entirely LIVE music. No backing tracks today!

A guest guitarist also performed as part of the concert and Aaron and I also gave our first solo tabla performance accompanied on the harmonium – we even changed into our kurtas! It was so much fun to play and was nice to share what we’d learnt as part of our time in India. The audience really appreciated and enjoyed this. We also played a Brahms duet as an encore – a little token of thanks and farewell. The students all worked hard and participated with great enthusiasm. There was an incredible buzz among the students, teachers, and parents after the concert and a general feeling that we’d helped to inject a lot of enthusiasm and interest into the children’s musical experience. I look forward to many more concerts like this when I go back.

So that’s it for now... Thanks to everyone who has followed the blogs and to friends and family for all the support. Most importantly, thanks to the WAM Foundation for giving all of us this opportunity – it has been an incredible two months.



Wednesday, 25 August 2010

WAMers on tour...

It was cool, calm, clean and less crowded. We were definitely out of Mumbai. Yes, as luck would have it our trip to Pune finally came to light, even if it was on Friday the 13th! As much as those two days in Pune, or ‘Poona’ as it once was, seemed like a mini vacation, they ended up being just as action-packed as a regular day in Mumbai... but with less noise. After a four-hour train journey of beautiful and varied landscapes providing the backdrop for what seemed like an on-board market place (there were selling EVERYTHING possible on the train), we finally arrived around midday. One of the senior students from the St Cecilia’s School of Music picked us up and, with her friends, drove us to our hotel, The Royal Connaught Boat Club, before taking us for lunch at a swanky restaurant. Indian hospitality is simply unrivalled!!

We then enjoyed the rest of the afternoon/evening at the music school where we met the wonderful Veera Pooniwala, head of the music school. Everyone was inviting and friendly and the music school was set in a beautiful little building, looked after by the adjacent convent. They have two grand pianos, an upright and a digital. We then had a master class which ran from 3pm till 9pm, where students of varying abilities (grade 2 up to ATCL and even one FTCL student) played for us, after which Aaron and I worked with them, giving them advice and guidance, focusing mainly on interpretation, character, and colour. Tension and stiff wrists were a common problem that I addressed in various ways for some students, but generally the playing was of a very good standard and there was an obvious buzz about the school. It definitely had the enjoyment factor, which, since our trip began, we have been trying to develop in the schools we’ve worked at in Mumbai. In addition to piano the school offers singing, as well as classes in theory, aural and music appreciation. Although the session ran on for six hours and we were feeling the effects of a very long day, we enjoyed every moment with the students and wished to have stayed longer!

The following day we were shown round by Hemant Godbole, a piano teacher who runs classes in another part of the city. We got to see the huge university campus in its tropical setting, the old city and the Raja Dinkar Kelkar museum. It was also this day that we discovered Mosambi (sweet lime juice), also available as a combo with many other juices. D-E-licious! Then a shorter afternoon at Hemant’s studio, where we heard some of his students play. They were around grade 4-5 standard and played their exam pieces for us. Addressing similar issues as before, we hosted a small masterclass with them. Though coming from a less privileged area than those we’d seen the day before, the students were equally keen and responsive, even if their exposure to Western classical music was more limited. After another fun day our short time in Pune was up. And that was ten days ago. How time is flying here...

On the Mumbai front things have been very busy. We’ve now introduced recorders into the school and I have started off classes for the 4 standard children (ages 9-10) in small groups during activity times in the morning and a longer session on Saturday mornings (they don’t seem to mind coming along again!). I wrote a starter book for them, introducing five notes and basics of music theory through varied tunes and exercises which I get them to clap and sing along to first. The children are enjoying the lessons and the opportunity (for most of them) to learn an instrument for the first time. We are happy to introduce these extra-curricular activities, which can altogether enrich their music education and promote a more active music-making environment in the school. It is very encouraging that Blaise, the music teacher in the International School, is happy to volunteer his free time by helping me to teach the recorder, dividing the children between us.

Finally, and most excitingly, I will be coming back to the Garodia School in September to teach for a further year, as part of which my main job will be to continue the work Aaron and I have started in the classrooms by fully establishing a music curriculum for the International School (at least standards 1-5). In addition to this project, I will also continue to work in the Music School, again helping to develop its infrastructure as well as offering more free classes beyond the students’ weekly lessons (aural, theory, ensemble classes etc). The International School is preparing for two large shows on October 1st, so once this is completed I can start up an International School choir, extend recorders to earlier year groups and introduce recorder ensembles at the very least... This is a very exciting opportunity and, while there have been some lasting improvements since Aaron and I have been here, this will ensure continuity from our efforts over the last two months.

So good news and exciting times here; however there is still a week to go and so much to get done, including more British Council workshops and a final concert for all the students we’ve been working with across the schools. Back to work for me...



Monday, 23 August 2010

Bangalore Survival Kit.

Key words in Kanada:

Namaskara! Greetings!
Esh-du? How much?
ill-lah. No.
How-du. Yes

Respect is a universal trait, that is highly regarded in every culture. It goes a long way when it comes to speaking to strangers, from rickshaw wallahs, to the security guards, to misfortunate homeless people. To gain the respect from the Avatars, we have learned several words in Kanada, the local language of the natives. Yesterday, our invaluable language studies was rewarded.

Brigade Road is in the heart of the city and it is always packed with the growing middle-class and tourists on a Sunday night. As many shops get ready for the fall clothing line, attractive promotions lure people, testing both their spending power and temptation quotient. We have also noticed the attraction of “Slumdog Millionaire” children on the streets. The packed streets only permit Rosie and I to walk in single file for we wanted to wiggle our way through the crowds as quickly as possible. Since our accents have improved, we are feeling more at ease and have circumvent many situations which tourists may experience. After dinner last night, a young girl walked passed me as her eyes were fixed on Rosie. Usually this is the norm on Brigade Road but Rosie was silent behind me and I kept hearing the begging sounds. To my disbelief, the girl was aggressively following Rosie clinging to her arm. I stopped, waiting for Rosie to come closer and staring straight into her eyes I said with the utmost authority and poise “ILL-LAH.” The girl immediately stopped what she was doing and her eyes lit up. She was baffled and froze in the stream of passer-bys, as we continued our way down Brigade Road.

Over and Out,


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A Button Factory, Jelly Beans and Jungles

This was the reply I gave today to sister Christine when she asked what the workshop was going to be about today. This was received with worried looks from both the parents and teachers especially since it was a few minutes before the workshop was about to begin and i was running around asking people what different types of beans there were! However I think that curiosity got the better of them in the end and turned out to be the first workshops the teachers actually attended (usually they just chill in the office despite all our persuading to try and get them to take part!) and infact a parent also watched as well!
We have done many workshops over the time we have been here and have ranged from rhythm and ear training to improvisation, and today, creative thinking. I was in my element today as this is what i do best. Playing musical games and having a right old laugh! We started with a warm up exercise about a fella called Joe who worked in a button factory. It ends up with everyone going mad and jumping everywhere but does alot to get their rhythm going. However since I have been quite unwell for the past few days this alone took it out of me and i could barely talk by the end of the exercise but we ploughed on to the Jelly Bean game. This involved me concocting a highly elaborate story about how i have a bean factory and my mother rang me last night and said someone had broke in and swapped all the pipes round in the factory and now all the different types of beans had been mixed up. The aim of the game was for them to act out the different types of bean and match them to a certain type of music. So when they heard a passage Sylvia improvised they would name the bean it represented and do the action. However the difficulty was (unusually) trying to get the kids to think of the actions in the first place. They wouldn't just open up and go crazy. They were far too embarrassed and when i picked on people to think of one they would hide their faces of point blank refuse. I have never found this in the UK and realised that this is probably why none of them play with any emotion - because they are too worried that it will be wrong and so to save themselves from embarrassment they just don't do it. But i didn't give up and eventually just forced them to do it and as soon as one student let go, they all did and they all really got into it! Obviously, like all things i do here, it all descended into complete and utter chaos but I think the idea was put across and was highly amusing for all, especially the teachers who were practically rolling round on the floor laughing. Actually looking back on it it must have been pretty funny watching a 19 year old white girl running around a room with a load of 10 year old Indians pretending to be a scary bean...
The next idea to be introduced was thinking about how to describe a scene, emotion or colour with different sounds. We picked the topic of Bangalore and got all the kids to think of a sound that describes Bangalore. Once we had all heard each others sounds individually we got them all to sit in a circle with their eyes closed and when i tapped them on the head they would make their sound. Whilst they were doing that I would get them to get louder and softer (like it would during rush hour and the middle of the night). It introduced to them the concept that their pieces are written about a certain idea or emotion. Once we had introduced that idea to them we played them pieces of our own on the piano and got them to make stories about them. Some of their responses were so profound and creative i would never have thought of it myself! I was most impressed, as were the teachers. We then got them playing their own pieces in front of the class and talking about them. At first no one wanted to play but as soon as i picked on one person then everyone wanted too and we are having to use the workshop time tomorrow to carry it on!
It turned out to be a really successful workshop and one that I think really opened their eyes to what music is all about but showed it to them through a different and more accessible medium.
We have also confirmed 2 workshop dates in ordinary state schools, one this Thursday and one next Monday which should be fun. Although we don't really know what to expect! Also since today was such a success we are thinking about repeating it there but altering it slightly to include composition and body percussion which always works well. We are also in the process of organising dates with another music school in the area to do a pedagogy workshop, children's workshop and concert where we also think we will repeat the same workshop.
On top of all this we have also found time to fly to Delhi and Agra to see the Taj Mahal aswell as other sites and have travelled to Mysore and the surround villages so explore some of the local history. We feel that we have definitely made the most of our time here and looking back across the whole period we have managed to make some significant changes and fill some of the holes in the students learning. If anything we hoped to have made music more enjoyable for the students and if not then at least they've had a good laugh!

Rosie (The last post was mine also!)

Sunday, 15 August 2010


After nealy 7 weeks in Bangalore we like to feel that we have made some good changes in the schools we are in. At the Good Shepherd we have weekly/twice weekly workshops on various different aspects of music. These are always met with much enthusiasm from the kids and often so many turn up that they barely all fit in the room. I have to agree with Lucie below that the kids think that we are crazy! I was teaching a couple of children a piano duet and by the end of the class, them, myself and 2 of the teachers had descended into fits of laughter. Maybe not such a productive lesson but definatley alot of fun. I have also figured out a good way of getting the children to practice. I threaten that if they dont Sister Christine (our host) will get angry with me and kick me out onto the streets and then i will die of hunger and, 'do you really want this burden on your shoulders Benita?' This probably isnt the most PC way of doing it but it seems to work... I have also got a few of the kids here involved in piano duets which is actually more fabulous than i can explain. It kills so many birds with one stone. In all of the cases their sight reading, rhythm and musicality has increased 10 fold. Its nothing short of a miracle. I never believed it would work before i got here but with a couple of kids i tried everything and nothing worked but as soon as i got them playing a duet it was like they were 2 different children. I would strongly recommend it to all! I have also started a choir... I thought this would be a relatively easy thing to do but it turns out some people are really tone-deaf so its proving quite a challenge (much to the other teachers amusment)!

However at the St. Marks Music Academy things are not going so swimmingly. If started off well with a good number of students turning up to our first workshop. We even did a very successful teachers workshop. However the violin workshop only had 2 in attendance even though it had been specially requested by the violin teacher and the other junior workshop only had one in attendance. This was a great dissappointment to us and we feel like the school is not helping us achieve anything. When we asked them what they wanted us to do and what impact they wanted us to make we just got the reply, 'well everyone thinks you are doing very well so far.' Even though we werent actually doing anything!
Teachers Workshop at St. Marks
However Sister Christine (Good Shepherd) is only too happy with this and after me telling her about the bad response she replied, 'well that just gives you more time to do workshops here! The children love the workshops!'

So with only 2 more weeks left to go its difficult to know what to do next but we will continue to the bitter end trying to make our mark on the Bangalore piano teaching method! We have other things in the pipeline though. We have done our first concert today to a very enthusiastic and grateful audience, and we have another 3 to go. We also have workshops in state schools and a workshop in another music school in koramungalaakjdshkfbnsa. We have also met the representative of the London college exam board who is also very keen to work with us. So all in all we think we are being pretty successful!

Not only that but we have adapted very well to the way of life over here. Sylvia hails a rickshaw while i hide behind a tree and jump in last second so that they dont hike up the price! It works very well as many people have commented the Sylvia could pass for a north Indian! Also now we've learnt a bit of the lingo its much easier to work our way round the city and ward off unwanted attention. Nothing gets past us now!

Gurgaon . . . are we pronouncing it right yet?

Ok, so time has flown by and it is nearly the two week count down to coming home. A lot has changed, a lot has remained the same . . .

We have our concert organised for Tuesday 24th of August, I believe the venue is meant to be good, but the piano will be digital which is most disappointing because I wanted the children to experience an acoustic piano. Making sure they are all prepared for the concert is proving difficult with some children and a dream with others. They are given so many piano lessons a week (some, even 5 hours!!!!) and so do not really understand the concept of practising outside of lessons . . .

Our work with them is paying off though and the improvement in some pupils who have really taken to the challange has been vast.

The only problem with the concert is that focus has been forced to switch from working on general problems to working on problems in the specific piece the child is playing, and trying to make sure it is good enough and ready for the concert. Therefore their learning has been a little restricted and tailored mainly to the piece they will be performing. I feel that when we leave and they begin a new piece they will not be able apply what we have taught them effectively enough.

Unfortunately, working with the teachers, or the teachers observing our lessons has not materialised and this is a major hole in our work here. Little knowledge has been passed on that will sustain, as it has all been just one-on-one teaching with the children. I have suggested that during the remaining time after the concert we do group classes on style and interpretation, pedaling, sight reading, and so on, and some classes with the teachers on how to teach certain concepts effectively (like articulation!) . Hopefully this will allow us to pass on some more lasting advice.

Sam, Gaspar, Helen and myself are heading to The Doon School next week (I hope this is how you spell it) to give a recital and do a one day workshop with 25 children, so planning for this needs to commence . . . Will write about it when we get back. Not looking forward to travelling through the night though!

Then we have our British Council workshops - two days in our last week hear. We have chosen a fable and plan to create a play with music from this within each three hour workshop. Minimal instruments, maximum body percussion, and hopefully 100% effort and participation. Hopefully the children will not have too many barriers and will be ready to let their hear down and make a fool of themselves. If it's anything like the games we played in our planning session then the children will leave thinking us Brits are a little crazeeey . . .

Which of course we are, and hopefully, will always be!