I am very excited to announce the launch of this Kickstarter! I have been invited by the Gandhi Ashram School to compose two pieces, and to teach North Indian Classical Music to their orchestra students. I will be composing two works for their junior and senior orchestras, based on my studies of North Indian Classical and Western Classical Music. I will collaborate with their musical director to teach these pieces to the orchestra, as well as traditionally teaching Hindustani Classical Music for two months at their ashram, in late 2019/early 2020. I plan to go to this school with a tabla player colleague, where we will teach beginning composition and tala classes, private lessons in sitar and tabla, and help in leading the orchestra rehearsals. While teaching, we will focus on ragas and talas which are directly related to my orchestral works, giving the students a context for the pieces.
The Gandhi Ashram is a very special place! This school accepts the poorest children from the Kalimpong area, gives each child a violin, viola, or cello, and provides instruction in Western Classical Music as the core of their education. The opportunities the school provides reach far beyond music. Please take a look at these short videos and documentaries for more insight on this beautiful institution:
In addition, while in the area, I will be studying the folk music of the Darjeeling region. I will work directly with indigenous folk musicians from the Lepcha and Gorkha tribes, and create field recordings of my experiences. Based on these studies, I will search for connections to North Indian Classical Music, and compose a piece connecting North Indian Classical, Western Classical, and Darjeeling Folk music. Between these studies, teaching, and travel, I will spend a total of four months in India.
Not only will this project help the students at the Gandhi Ashram School, but it will greatly strengthen my skills as a composer and teacher. This music will expand the musical palette of the students there, and I will be able to bring my compositions home for use with students and musicians in the United States as well. I hope to foster a long-term relationship with the Gandhi Ashram School through this project.
These Kickstarter funds will provide the bare minimum for me to embark on this project. I will be able to support myself through the composition of these new pieces, as well as provide the airfare for my colleague to accompany me to Kalimpong.
Risks and challenges
I will undoubtedly hit snags in the road throughout this project. I know from my experience arranging pieces for school groups that my perception of what will be easy for the students to play does not always measure up to reality. Luckily, I have experience making quick edits and adapting a composition to the players involved. I will have support from their musical director throughout the process, so he will be able to help guide me if I have questions and concerns.
I realize that language may be a barrier. I have been to the Gandhi Ashram in the past, and while the older kids are able to communicate in English, the younger children are just learning. Their mother tongue is Nepali. Now that I have studied some Hindi, I feel that I will have an easier time, and there is almost always somebody around to help translate. It is actually wonderful to be thrown outside of my comfort zone in that way, and in the end, the effort required for us to learn a bit of each other's language makes our bond grow stronger.
I am approaching this project with an open mind, and the willingness to adapt based on input from my students and colleagues!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)