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Xenomusic for kids

So it looks like I might be giving a Xenomusic workshop for kids at ConGlomeration in Louisville next April.

"What is 'Xenomusic'?" you might ask?

Well, basically, it would be the music of Alien races.  Sometimes referred to as "Exomusic" or more plainly "Alien music" or "Extra-Terrestrial music"--it's all the same, really.

Ultimately, the idea, which was suggested to me by an online friend and frequent Con-goer, is something that just appeals to me.  One of the things I've missed (though at the time, I probably didn't quite feel the same--heh) is working with kids.  While I as at Gymboree Play and Music that was my primary role--a music teacher that is.  But unlike most government sponsored music teachers (in the school systems) or private instructors (which function like tutors) I was actively involved in teaching groups of children between the ages of one to five.

Yeah, that's right--between the ages of one to five!  Just think about that for a second or two.

The idea, well, at least my conception of the idea (since I did sign a form stating I wouldn't publicly discuss the actual methods or philosophy behind Gymboree's programs--trade secrets, after all) is that children don't have to be a certain age to start learning something about, well, any subject.

Given what I know about the research on infant and child neurology and psychology, in a way, it would be better to start teaching music (if fluency in music is the goal) at a younger age rather than waiting till it gets taught in, say, kindergarten.

I won't bog this blog down with copious links and references to the body of research dealing with early phonemic acquisition and the ties between language and music developmental neurology (you can find some links to research about that at my comparative neurocognition blog here for that!) because, there are far more interesting issues that don't require a more technical knowledge of basic human neurobiology.

See, one of the things I love about teaching children (and young adults, for that matter--since that is my, um, "day-job") is seeing the learning processes firsthand, but more importantly, given some kind of structured direction to what are already natural tendencies (along with language and art, music is one of the few universals that all human populations share as an activity).

And while, being a classical musician, I've had the opportunity to have tons of interactions with children through music as a result of outreach programs and in-school presentations, what I've been most dissatisfied with during the period when I was most active playing clubs and bars, and well, for the most part, the places that rock and pop music groups often perform is that there is this sharp divide between the all-ages scene and the 18+ (or 21+) scene.

Despite the fact that, in a sense, Western Art music is slowly declining, what I am going to miss most about this scene is the fact that [at least] in America, blind auditions for spots in, say, Symphony Orchestras actually happened as opposed to the fact that, say, in the pop and rock music scene you find what is mostly a boys world.

I'm still remembering a particular online forum thread discussion I had started at a local (to Indianapolis) music forum that got deleted (it was titled "Gender and Rock"--or rather, that's what I had titled it).  And while the powers that be at that forum assured me that it wasn't because of the touchy topic (I won't go into some of the details of how "local band musicians" view women musicians here) but because of the forum pruning feature that lops off old threads.  Which would ring true some of the other very long discussion threads that I've started, which have been longer dead, weren't still available to be viewed.

And wow--as much as I didn't want this to be a rant about sexism in music, here we are--or rather, here I am.

*Steps back a bit*

Ok, so the best aspects of the American Western Classical music scene are on the decline just because it is on the decline.  This is arguable, of course, and that's not the issue I'm concerned with.  Rather, the issue is, if it is on the decline AND if how it seems to be a bit more egalitarian than, say, other genres of music--then basically all the good things about the American Western Classical music scene are also slowly dwindling away.

And one of those many things just happens to be how actively involved with children this particular musical culture is.

That's not to say that pop and rock musicians haven't stepped up to the plate regarding engaging children--and that's a good thing.  I've been seeing more and more programs and educators and entrepreneurs really making a stab at getting past the commercial or "rock star image" aspects of pop music (and I'll make it clear that I mean "Western pop music" here--which includes rock and heavy metal and rap and country, etc).

That's probably the subject for another blog.

Anyway, I want to give back more--and at an earlier level than the one I am currently engaged in (mainly k-12 right now) because, well, to restate the tired old adage:

"Children are our future"

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There's a women-in-rock community on DreamWidth you might be interested in peeking at. (It's mostly an impassioned mod feeding the comm daily doses of rockin' women from all over the world.)

I think I have a dreamwidth account--I'll have to check and see if I can find my login info. I'd be interested in peeking at that!

I have the same username at DW. If you browse my reading list, it should be obvious.

Awesome--ok, will check it out soon!

That's a fascinating post.

Since I saw you last on livejournal I have got married and had a daughter. She is now two and my husband is a drummer, flautist etc etc and on a Music Leader course in Plymouth. It is really engaging watching her learn about music - different instruments, how they sound and work... She loves to play the piano and the drums and is really rather good already - imaginative and creative though not exactly tuneful.

Am glad to catch up with you :)) I've not been on lj in a while as I'm mostly now on facebook.

Lizzi x

Wow lady!

Yeah it has been a while, eh? I've also married since I was more active here.

Hope you're able to successfully nurture your daughter's curiosity (if that is a direction she wants to take)--and good luck with that!!

I'm much more active on facebook--you should PM me your profile--or, you can just friend me at mine:

You been playing much yourself?

I have sent you a friendrequest on Facebook. I'm not really doing much nurturing tbh - she's doing it herself hurrah!! :))

I've not been playing much at all - couldn't with a bump and now I don't seem to find the hours... Hopefully when she's old enough for nursery then I will get more time in to practice myself!!

I got it--thanks!

Well, I can understand how much time it takes for the kids. I was glad that, at the end of the day, I left the kids to their parents--! ;)

As an amateur ethnomusicologist and fan of science fiction, I find the idea of xenomusic fascinating.

One popular theory about the origins of music is that the beating of the human heart provided the first rhythms. True or not, how might an alien species without such an organ arrive at a cultural element that could be called music, and how would it differ from human music?

Yes! That would be Robert Freitas ideas from his Xenology book! He had tons of great things to say--and it's always helpful to have a bit of an evolutionary framework to work in. Those are alot of the issues I'll be touching on as well as just talking about actual attempts at constructing alien music in the literature, television, movies (this will be more of the topic for the Xenomusic panel I'm developing for Conventions).

I look forward to more on your work.

Thanks! I'll try to regularly cross post things from my regular blog here in the future!

...or you could create a feed for your blog.

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