"Music for me is like a spiritual journey down into the depths of my soul. And I like to think we're all on a journey into our souls. What's down there? That's why I do what I do."—Bobby McFerrin
Circlesinging and World Music Drumming have several things in common: they are creative, collaborative, and accessible approaches to music and storytelling, and FCS music teacher Michele Zuckman has studied both through Friends' Central's Farraday Stipend program.
The idea of building community through deep listening, respect and collaboration -- all in the context of music -- drew Michele to Circlesinging at the Omega Institute with Bobby McFerrin four summers ago. Circlesinging is creative and improvisational. It begins with a group of singers joining together to create a piece that grows from a single musical idea, with each member listening and adding new elements.
This approach to learning music through listening and shared creativity, as opposed to written notes, is also at the core of World Music Drumming, a course Michele studied this summer. Drawn from West African and Caribbean drumming traditions, World Music Drumming invites all students, regardless of their musical background, into the creative process. Students engage easily and with enthusiasm.
This creative and kinesthetic learning is a perfect match for 6th grade, where it forms the basis of the nine week music rotation. It also engages students with previous musical training, as they are able to serve as ensemble leaders. This fall, Michele and Julie Gordon, Middle School drama teacher, are bringing their grade 6 drama and music students together to create stories with percussion, adding the oral storytelling tradition already studied in grade 6 drama to the new music curriculum. World Music Drumming will be offered as an Upper School elective in the spring semester.
Michele has found Circlesinging and World Music Drumming an incredible philosophical and pedagogical fit for Friends' Central. Michele shares, "Both Circlesinging and World Music Drumming invite all people into the music making community. Everybody has a voice and a connection to music, but many people are afraid they are not talented enough or musically educated enough to participate in the creation of music. My goal is to make creative expression through music accessible, engaging, and fun for all of my students."
Deep listening, respect for one another's musical contributions, and a desire to build community through music -- what could be better?