Larry’s and my visas for Afghanistan came today. Very exciting! The writing on them is so beautiful…I have my hands full with just learning a few basics of Dari, but learning how to write it would be a fun project. What a beautiful language.
There was an NPR story featured about the school a few days ago: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/04/131782559/an-american-musician-an-influence-in-afghanistan?ft=1&f=1039
We are planning to write lots once we get to Kabul and really know what is happening there. But Robin did send us some information about the students and the school. Here’s what she had to say:The current enrollment of the Winter Academy is still being established but almost every student I have spoken with has said they will attend. The Embassy has also offered support in bringing students from other cities in Afghanistan, so the numbers continue to increase. At ANIM there are about 8 violinists, 3 who double as violists, 5 cellists, and no double bass :( (they prefer electric bass). All the cellists are beginners, but some have shot through normal expectations and are playing Suzuki Book two leve in 6 weeks. The violinists range from beginner to intermediate. As in every school, there is great future potential in some, more enjoyment in others. But for the most part they all love to play and work hard when inspired. :) For guitar students, there are quite a few, varied in level. For the few I’ve personally worked with, their styles vary from classical to rock to folk.
- What ensemble experience do the students have? Very little, but it is growing rapidly. There is orchestra that has helped a lot with ensemble experience. There is a guitar section in the orchestra too. And often times you’ll find them playing in duets/ trios together. But the extent of their ability to play well in an ensemble setting is very basic. Within the school there is also a rock band, a percussion ensemble, a young childrens ensemble (playing mostly traditional instruments - the best thing ever!) and there was my small ensemble class where the older students put together two songs (one traditional and one “improvised”). This went well as long as they remembered their parts and the trumpet player wasn’t overpowering the sitar… !
- What experiences have the students had with improvisation? Some of the students of traditional instruments are fairly familiar and well versed with the ideas of improvistaion, though execution is a bit weak. The ‘western classical’ students not so much. Partially due to practice and ability on the instrument, not because of lack of familiarity in the style. I have introduced the ideas of improvisation to my older students this semester in their ensemble group and though they find it difficult, they are eager and very interested to learn. And they have great ideas when they try. They have requested an Ensemble/Group to be formed over the Winter Academy and I hope that you will all help teach/ coach them!