Saturday, 3 August 2013

Sam and Duncan - Garodia School, week 5

After two of our housemates left our flat we acquired one more except this one suffered the fate of being poisoned and, just after a few days, devoured by countless maggots in the corner of our garage. We don’t mind the stray dogs who have settled in our porch but this rat was really taking the biscuit (or should I say bananas – never have I bought so much fruit to see it literally disappear from one night to the next.) The somewhat squishy remains of the rat were eventually scooped up with the only equipment I could find in the garage: half a shovel and a large machete. I have pictures which I could have uploaded but I wanted to keep this blog relatively family friendly.

Anyway, the teaching in Garodia is going fantastically. The musical is getting its song list finalised and I now find myself rewriting the lyrics to the rap of Snap’s classic ‘I’ve Got the Power’. Meanwhile the arduous task of funnelling a choir of around twenty pupils to accompany a handful of soloists is underway. We’ve also been further deepening their listening skills through connecting pieces with aspects of life (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons proved more challenging than expected given that Indians do not experience similar seasonal changes to Vivaldi’s very Italian perspective of the year) and developing an understanding of aural skills through following contours of melodies and discerning changes in pitches.

We have also delved deep into the characteristics of different musical genres with the older children, and with the younger grades we have started to listen to and think about music creatively. One of the most successful activities had the children responding to pieces of music with movement and descriptive words and then coming up with their own titles for the pieces. For example, we played them some Scott Joplin and at the end of the activity they dubbed it ‘The Crazy Monkey Song’. Some of the responses from younger kids turned out to be very thoughtful and developed and some kids even came up with short stories inspired by music like Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude. The music teachers at Garodia are evidently enthusiastic about improving their lessons, and we’re doing our very best to leave a lasting impression.

Alongside the teaching we plucked up some courage and went on the school’s annual Monsoon Trek. This involved a 3 hour hot coach ride to the remote mountain region outside Mumbai called Lonavla. As we arrived in the very picturesque setting and vacated the coach we noticed that every child and teacher was covering themselves up with a rain sheet, which is when we realised that the feeble umbrellas we brought weren’t going to be enough. Many of the kids were also shocked when we said that we didn’t bring a change of clothes but really, how wet could it have been? The trek was phenomenal. The place was covered in waterfalls which locals dived into just to get even wetter. As we reached what we thought was the top, through the thick mist appeared more mountain and we continued to trek until we reached the apparently 2000 year old fort which was built into the rock face. Although the climb was difficult and disobeyed what appeared to be every Health and Safety rule we reached the top and instead of an immense view we saw more thick mist – it was truly lovely!

We were this wet for over 4 hours

Recently we took a trip to the Blue Frog, Mumbai’s answer to the lack of Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, which has seen performances from many Western artists, including Imogen Heap. The place was fantastic and made all the more better with the extremely talented band who played in many styles from Jazz, Funk, Rock, and a few Ballads (They even encored with a jazz version of Roxanne!)

Just this Wednesday, we sat in on a rehearsal for one of Mumbai’s premier adult choirs ‘The Stop Gaps’ following a recommendation from one of the school’s music teachers. We sang along and had a great time. On the following day, we attended a performance at the NCPA of the Junior Stop Gaps choir, and despite only being in Mumbai a month there were many familiar faces around the auditorium from various parts of the musical community. We really feel like we’re getting to know the music scene around Mumbai, and the great people involved in it.

Mumbai has a lot to offer and we’re certainly trying to get through it all. 

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