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Let's put together a music camp and performances to inspire Ladakhi folk culture at a rural school in the high mountains of India
Let's put together a music camp and performances to inspire Ladakhi folk culture at a rural school in the high mountains of India
43 backers pledged $6,677 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$6,677

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Thanks to you, Siddhartha students will be learning to play traditional music this summer.
Thanks to you, Siddhartha students will be learning to play traditional music this summer.

WOW! Thanks to you we reached goal in the first 8 days of our campaign, so we are announcing a Stretch Goal of an additional $950 to purchase a professional field recorder, cables and portable microphone.

If you are just hearing about the project this is a great way to pitch in. We can really use your help to make the recording aspect of the project more robust and professional. If you are already a backer and would like to share our stretch goal with a friend, this is a great way to help.

It’s a great investment. Students can use it not only to record performances for CD sales, but they can use it to conduct interviews with local musicians and create a digital archive of the stories told in Ladakhi song cycles. What a meaningful way for the children to explore their heritage: as historians and reporters. This archive will become a vital part of our school library, created by the children for futures generations.

It is wonderful to have such a show of support for Ladakhi music and the Siddhartha School children!

Thanks so much and Jullay!

Siddhartha School kids admire a local musician's drums.
Siddhartha School kids admire a local musician's drums.

We are Siddhartha Schoola rural school in the Himalayan region of northern India called Ladakh. Rapid modernization poses real challenges to us as we educate our children in the 21st century while fostering an appreciation for their unique cultural heritage. In this spirit, we look to bring more opportunities for students seeking to learn traditional music by hosting a six-week music camp for interested children.

Formed over centuries in the crossroads of high Asia, Ladakhi music has a rare, special sound all its own.

Curious? 

Listen to this short audio clip. It's from a visit local musicians made to Siddhartha School last summer.

Why is a camp in traditional music important? At our school we strive to offer a sensitive curriculum that honors our rich traditions and life ways. We've found that when our kids are given the chance to meet local artists and musicians, they are left wanting more. They want to learn by playing and mastering the forms under the guidance of real performers. We'd like to give them that chance. Will you join us?

The Basics: Our first goal is to create a six week music camp for 30 students as an extracurricular activity, to introduce interested students to the study of music. We're fundraising now to:

  • Create and host a six-week music camp to teach traditional Ladakhi folk music.
  • Perform and record a capstone cultural show with special guests and the students playing traditional instruments.
  • Build a successful model for teaching Ladakhi folk music thereafter. (And hopefully inspire other local schools to do the same!)

By meeting this goal we will set the foundation to expand the program into the school day, alongside other elective subjects offered at the school. But first we need traditional instruments! These include high-pitched flutes called surnas, copper kettle-drums known as damans and small hand flutes.

Musicians performing for the students with surnas and damans.
Musicians performing for the students with surnas and damans.

We also need to hire three local music instructors to teach these unique instruments. They will teach the students a selection of Ladakhi folk songs over the course of the camp, which will culminate in a community performance to be recorded for DVD and broadcast on Local Ladakhi Radio. This will be a special performance that welcomes guests, students, master musicians, and local officials. It will show the significant role Ladakhi folk songs have in Ladakh by emphasizing their unique sound and historical, storytelling qualities.

Our music camp will be part of a larger movement to pass on the artistic traditions Ladakh to future generations, and the capstone performance will promote pride in tradition as well as promoting new voices and creative performances. Teaching young people their folk music heritage will help insure the continued practice of this tradition as well as encourage innovation within the form. We believe it is a powerful way to insure that new generations will contribute their own voices and vision to Ladakh's musical heritage. For the arts to flourish in a culture facing significant changes, new generations need to pick up the tools and add their own voices, visions, and songs to the creative conversation.

Ladakhi musicians want to keep their musical traditions alive and vibrant, and our children are eager to learn from them. Our music camp will support these artists in their work, and give them the opportunity to pass on this unique musical knowledge to the younger generation. We hope to make the music camp an annual, self sustaining event by selling recordings of their music in the local bazaar during tourist season. This will help to cover annual expenses including the upkeep of the instruments and teacher stipends.

Thank you for thinking of us and Jullay!

P.S. If you'd like to learn more about Ladakh and its music, please check out this youtube video above made by Conor Gillies for PRX. It's awesome.

P.S.S. Join the Siddhartha School email list. Drop us a line at this address: info@siddharthaschool.org. It's a great way to keep in touch with exciting developments at the school and the children. We'll never share your personal information with anyone.

Risks and challenges

Finding great musicians, who are also skilled teachers, can be challenging anywhere in the world. We are especially appreciative for the support of the Ladakh Arts and Media Organization (LAMO), a local NGO in this endeavor. It will help us recruit musicians and provide a performance space at its Centre based in two historic houses in Old Town, Leh. As a hub of contemporary and traditional Ladakhi arts and music, we are delighted to partner with LAMO.

Another challenge will be sourcing and procuring the instruments, given that surnas can be hard to find. There is one family in a nearby village that still makes them. Our plan is to commission them if we can't find ready made ones. This may delay the start of music camp, but we can postpone the start date if necessary, so that everyone can start with an instrument to play.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A thank-you video from the students involved!

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    A DVD of the concert and cultural show. (thank-you from the students included.)

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    A Siddhartha School t-shirt. (Includes the thank-you from the students and concert DVD.)

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    Our beautiful cloth shoulder bag with the Siddhartha School logo. (Includes the thank-you from the students and concert DVD.)

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A locally made Buddhist protection amulet blessed by the abbot and school founder, Khen Rinpoche. (Includes the thank-you from the students and concert DVD.)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A locally made, hand carved, wooden box depicting the 8 auspicious symbols of Ladakhi Buddhism. Inside you can keep your music dvd and a personal letter of thanks signed by Khen Rinpoche and the children participating in the camp.

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Funding period

- (30 days)