Posts Tagged lesson

Day 36 – Mad ride to music lesson

36truck.gifI have the morning off as I’m scheduled to visit the local village school at 12 noon. I’m told that around the next hill there is a beautiful gorge, so I set off for a bit of sightseeing. Nomadmobile 4 is a fairly rugged minibus but likes to keep it’s tyres on a road. After a five minute drive the mountain track runs out and we are left with a mud path with ruts 2 feet deep. Our driver pushes on but the van is soon grounded on it’s axle. By unlikely coincidence a huge four wheel drive truck appears full of local workmen. They turn out to be a pylon crew and in fact have a mains pylon in the back of the truck. Sign language prevails as they offer a lift, so next minute I’m off sitting on the bonnet, 5 feet in the air taking plunging dives into 3 feet ditches – “when you travel you live in the moment – it might be your last”. We arrive at the gorge and I take my pictures – the pylon crew wait patiently then, believe it or not, take me back to my campsite – time has a whole new meaning out on the steppe. I’m sure they thought we were all mad.

36kurmsc.gifMali, the headmaster of the school asked us where we would like his pupils to gather. Five minutes later more than 60 of his finest, marched single file into a small, but bright assembly hall. Their ages ranged from 11 to 18 and they were abnormally well behaved. The older children stood plain faced at the back and the youngsters in the front looked slighty perplexed. This was no normal second day of term. There were ‘westerners’ with cameras and musical instruments. Above the children a poster of a famous Kazak poet looked like it had been there for a decade. The few teachers that were present stood calmly at the back and occasionally prodded any child who showed the slightest sign of misbehaviour.

36jwhis.gifI had arranged with the headmaster that we would listen to the school perform their national anthem. Then we would perform some music. They promptly broke into unison singing. A lengthy anthem with a range of voices, some decidedly discordant. At the end we applauded, something surely strange to them which provoked very little reaction. Immediately afterwards I introduced them to the team and the project. Moldira translated and the children paid attention.

Each of the team played their individual instruments. Paul a passionate Spanish melody on classical guitar, Gary a melodic Jazz piece on soprano saxophone and I played a short Irish jig on penny whistle. Kathy was too busy taking photos as usual. I sensed that this was something new for them. In the ranks quiet chatter broke out occasionally and the applause seemed genuine.I asked the school to assemble in a circle to teach them them a song with nonsense words. They began to liven up, responding to this call and response game. Once they had learnt the simple three note melody I taught them some movements which became deafeningly loud on the hollow wooden floor. This didn’t deter them from singing their hearts out. 36musles.gif

For the finale the Nomad team gathered to play their own version of the Turkish melody that has been cropping up at various meetings on our journey. I improvised over the chords on my concert flute. I think we may have sown some seeds. Perhaps when these little Kazak children grow up one of them may have the urge to play flute.

We were then taken to a classroom to witness a music lesson. Kuan and the music teacher stood in front of the class. The children sat in formal rows. Pinned on the blackboard were pictures of various types of Kazak dombra. These seemed to serve a purely decorative function as they were never referred to. The lesson commenced with a group of children performing a Kazak song.

36kdom.gif

One by one children were called up individually or in groups to do ‘a turn.’ We began to suspect that this ‘lesson’ had been staged for our benefit. Some of the children sang and played well but we had really been interested in music teaching. The media arriving in your village is perceived as a solemn and important occasion. Was everyone briefed to be on their best behaviour? Outside school the children laughed and played and they seemed back to normal again.

36headw.gifAfterwards we were invited to the headmasters house for chai. In his front room we were confronted with a huge table groaning with food. We had experienced this before – heaps of fantastic home produced food that you just can’t refuse. It proved to be a good opportunity to talk to Mali, the headmaster. We discovered that his school had only been built in 1992 and he took over as headmaster in 1993. The school had been doing well but Mali regretted the lack of IT resources. We promised to send him a token desktop computer. We showed Mali and his wife around our web site and they seemed to like it. They asked if we had any images from other parts of the world. We obliged by showing the inevitable photographs of Trafalgar Square with Red Buses – they were delighted.


In the heat of the day we make a hasty decision to move camp. We leave behind Bulat and his family (our yurt neighbours) and the villagers of Kurmetui.

Onward for three hours up the Charyn River valley to a large lake and a bigger village. Who knows what awaits on the last day of a journey?

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments