Jessica Morwood and Daniel Ship introduced children to musical instruments and the concept of how music is made
The British Library was alive with noise on a quiet Sunday morning, with the children waiting for Jessica Morwood and Daniel Ship’s arrival. Almost 25 excited children from the age of seven to 12 were brought in by young parents willing to sacrifice their Sunday morning, while their wards were given an overview of unusual musical instruments from different countries and were taught how musical sound is made.
The programme was called ‘Music-Make-Freedom-World-Play-Band-Jam-Compose’ and as Jessica and Daniel began to set up the session, they explained how both of them had been trained in the traditional western classical style, but have broken away to give children a chance to be musically creative on their own.
“Our idea is to give kids the platform to be creative with music and to learn to make instruments with simple things. Give them the freedom to create music on their own, rather than reproduce from sheet music,” said Jessica, who has been trained in opera singing and has sung in jazz bands across Canada.
Daniel is a musician who performs with a group called Traffic Jam where he plays percussion. “We perform at Take Five, the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, the Bangalore School of Music and several restaurants across the city, but I encourage kids to be creative by listening and making sounds from the simplest of instruments,” said Daniel.
Squatting in a circle on the carpeted floor, the duo whetted the kids’ appetites by first starting with talking about sounds and how hitting something against another causes sound.”
“What’s an Ektara?” asked curious eight-year-old Vedant who is in the second standard. In minutes Daniel loaded a YouTube clip and showed the children what an Ektara looked like and how it was played. Vedant learns western classical piano and goes for Hindustani music classes as well, said Vrinda, his mum.
“Looks rather weird right?” asked Jessica, showing the children an African kalimba. “We are going to make one each for you to take home.”
She showed them all the tiny sounding board and how by fixing it to a biscuit tin, the sound was amplified. Different types of boxes made of wood or tin made different kinds of sounds.
“In India, dried gourds are turned into musical instruments like the sitar,” explained Jessica.
Then the whole group got down in real earnest to make their very own African kalimba. Split into two it was amazing to see the little ones saw, paste, drill holes, fix screws and bobby-pins and make their own instrument.
“You mean I can take the kalimba I make home?” asked an excited Shivani and Daksh. “I never knew I could make an instrument myself, this class is really cool!”
Jessica has lived in India for ten years, co-founding and running an NGO school and hostel for street children in north India.
Daniel Ship has lived in Bangalore for four years. He and Jessica are co-founders of a school and hostel for poor kids in U.P.