September is here, and with it a recurring idea that I should be teaching a class of some sort — a musical class for kids + teens. I already teach private lessons in violin / viola / composition (and hopefully soon – fadolín!) — but the group class idea that interests me the most probably doesn’t exist — perhaps for a good reason?
I see classes offered in various genres and instruments – classical, jazz, metal, rock, Irish, Scottish, Klezmer, etc. – but I want to be far less specific and more open to exploring something new every week. The way my career has developed so far, I’ve never had a chance to sit with one kind of music for long enough to feel “authoritative”. This has never been a downside — rather, the diversity and sheer luck of my collaborations has created a sort of musical stew of its own that creates its own language — on paper, on record, and as a common language between band members. I’ve tried not to think about being “proficient” in anything, but rather in terms of being helpful, communicative (expressive) and a good collaborator. These are the same values that you learn in team sports, in chamber music and orchestra, participating in a theater production…
so what would the dream class I’d teach look like?
The idea is simple: FAKE IT TILL YOU FAKE IT.
a) Gather a group of kids who play various instruments
b) listen to a tune
c) talk about it as a group, try to dissect basic elements and play it by ear — just enough to get the idea
d) try to create a tune on the spot with the group that sounds similar – similar tempo, style, texture, anything — but original to the group.
e) record whatever comes out of that.
f) come back next week with a different tune and repeat the cycle. If possible, repeat the tune from the week before.
By the end of a few classes, the group would have a repertoire uniquely its own, rooted in a common language.
That’s really what I want to do — make new music with kids, each week something different, no homework (unless you want it), no expectations, the point is exposure, encouragement and collaboration.
But who would sign up? I would — this is the class I’ve been secretly taking all of my musical life.