Monday, May 14, 2007

Musically Minded

Every Tuesday at 1:30 in the Manna schoolhouse (called “El Farito”), Scott and Andie (short for Andrea) teach music class. They go equipped with tambores, maracas, una guitarra, instrumentos de percusión, and plenty of patience.

The kids come to class excited and antsy after being in school all morning; talking, laughing, playing around, practicing karate kicks, trying to mess with Scott’s hat (which is SO not allowed), arguing over which instrument they want, hugging Andie (over and over and over), etc. The kids are so wound-up, that the first few minutes of class could be spent trying to get them to calm down- but instead, Scott and Andie give the kids 5 seconds to make as much noise as they want. The kids jump up and down, yell and scream and flail their arms about frantically, and when Scott shoots his hand up, they’re suddenly silent (pure genius, I know).

Then Scott starts playing music on his speakers- sometimes it’s jazz, sometimes blues, sometimes something Nicaraguan. He asks the kids what feelings they have when they listen to the music, and what adjectives they’d use to describe it. The kids may say something like “aburrido” (boring) or “necio” (annoying) and then start whispering to their friends, but more often you can see them tapping their foot to Miles Davis, or listening calmly to Beethoven, or using words like “desorganizado” (disorganized) to describe a complicated jazz piece. And then occasionally, Scott plays a classic rock piece (think Led Zepplin), and the little boys stand up and start jammin’ out on their air guitars.

The class has been meeting for 8 months now. I go as often as I can, and the progress the kids have made in music class is truly remarkable. The (sometimes crazy) kids have learned how to identify time signatures, rhythms, they can read music (seriously), they’ve performed in a holiday concert and are currently learning songs for another concert in July. These kids, who before MPI had never had a music class in their life, now understand more music theory than the majority of North Americans. They not only know the difference between a half rest and a whole rest, but they also know how to write and identify them in a piece of music. Plus, they’re learning to love a wide variety of music. I asked 9-year-old Daniel (who’s famous for his air guitar impression) what his favorite song was, and he said “Money by Pink Floyd.” When I asked why, he said, “porque tiene siete tiempos” (because it’s in 7/8 time). And then he ran off and proceeded to practice more karate kicks with his friends, while Scott and Andie cleaned up after another successful music class.

playing Music Note Bingo


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