Surprises All Around

I was in the neighborhood hardware store the other day (I looove going to neighborhood hardware stores) and it struck me - this is kind of what this Listening class is like. It may not be super fancy-tech - sometimes the internet is glitchy or the zoom sound isn't great (just like the dusty aisles of a local store) - but there's always a surprise around the corner, and sometimes it's just exactly what you're looking for and you didn't even know it.

This was particularly true for the clips I pulled up in the last class, featuring Pyi Kyauk Sein ensemble from Myanmar:

Looking and listening to instruments allowed me to introduce general categorization terms such as aerophone and membranophone, but the elaborate rotund instrument in the center left the students as baffled as I was upon first hearing. They came up with about as accurate a description as to what they thought was producing the sound as I did, which was pretty far off the mark for all of us. Luckily I already had this clip ready to go:

I couldn't gauge every student's reaction, but I was happy to admit that I am completely blown away by this instrument! What a find, and what a phenomenal player!

This is probably the most valuable lesson I teach in the entire class: I can be equally in the dark when venturing to a new place and music culture - there is simply too much music for any one person to know - no one is a general expert in all music - and isn't the journey fun?!


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