Thursday, October 24, 2013

Words, Words

If there were a word to take the place of a sound we would have no music.  Imagine it.

I watch it happen every time a parent, meaning well, most likely, interposes a word between the child's immediate taking in of a new sound and the possibility that the sensation might take on meaning of its own on the child's own terms.

So I have a rule when young children come to my improvisation session: No talking allowed.  There is only sound and those tiny little shifts in facial expression that betoken lively response and playful exchange.

Years ago I taught a Saturday afternoon "Teenage Theory" class for kids who played everything from drums to piano and beyond.  Coming from a broad mix of cultural backgrounds, they ranged from kids who had been taught never to open their mouths much less actually say anything, to the soon-to-be valedictorian of his Bronx Science High School class.  Determined to get them to notice that music was equally accessible to all I focused each year on a different theme, ethnic music, or music with and without words, for example.  I had to watch their faces carefully for those tiny little shifts--sometimes all that remained of a stunted communication possibility.