Back in Jakarta

JMP here, I’m back in downtown Jakarta with TP.  Please excuse me as I get used to blogging again, I’m quite out of practice!  My music festival ended yesterday with many tears from the kids who were sad to leave their new friends and their "music holiday" as many of them called it.

What an interesting and rewarding experience it was.  There were about 60 kids from 7-22 years old, although most were in the 11-15 age range.  They were almost all pianists, with some who also played violin and flute and I was quite impressed at the level of playing.  It was really amazing to see these little kids get up there and play some pretty hard stuff by memory at the evening concerts.  I spent my time teaching my three students, helping them learn a few duets for the final concert, and coaching a little chamber music (cello and piano is an interesting thing to coach as a flutist- it made me glad I play a wind instrument for various reasons).  In the mornings I led general music appreciation classes for the kids which basically consisted of using recorders to play together and review some musical concepts.  That was fun except that I don’t know how to play the recorder and had to learn very quickly.  Also, I was expecting to teach the kids how to play the recorder, but they had been playing in school for a long time and were much better than I am.  This proved challenging for the first day or so, but I got it all sorted out and we mainly just had fun together.  I have to tell you though, ten kids playing screechy high notes on the recorder creates a rather hair-raising sound.  After a while I forbid them from playing the highest notes- I think they were as relieved as I was.

Pretty much every evening the kids played in concerts in our building.  The choir rehearsal room was large enough to set up enough chairs and had a mini stage so it worked well for informal concerts.  Well, they were supposed to be informal but some of the girls were like fashion plates- they kept coming up wearing yet another different party dress or fancy gown night after night.  This was all a buildup for a big concert last Wednesday when they all got to play solos and chamber music at a hall in Jakarta at the Goethe Institute.  It was a lovely hall with a good piano in it (finally- they have a really hard time with pianos here mostly because of the climate, and also perhaps because they transport them in open air mini pickup trucks but more on that later).  Then on Friday we had another big concert in another hall in Jakarta.  This was basically a greatest hits of  Wednesday’s concert plus the choir and orchestra components of the festival.  The kids all did very well and are now seasoned performers, and I think all this practice performing was one of the greatest things about the program.

Teaching at a summer camp was funny for me for a few reasons.  First off, it wasn’t that long ago that I was a student myself at camps like this.  Also, I was significantly younger than all the other teachers that came.  So put both those things together with the fact that I stayed in a room at the end of the a hall filled with kids and I was a little confused.  Basically I felt a bit like I was at camp but got to hang out with the cool adults all the time (and they were really cool people from the US and UK).  So all in all, a pretty neat thing to do.  I am so glad that I was able to come back here and contribute something meaningful to this program and I hope the kids had as much fun as I did!  I’ve got plenty more stories and thoughts, but I’ll save them for later posts and give TP a break from posting for a while.