Saturday, December 4, 2010

English Class, Tabla Games and a Sad Girl

Today was an exciting day for the kids!
For one, we started English class. Two Manav Sadhna Volunteers, Kathleen and Roshni, have been kind enough to dedicate a half hour twice or thrice a week to start the process of improving what little English our kids already know. After a few writing and reading tests today, we realized there’s a lot to work on. But no problem, we’ll learn as much as we can, with whatever time we have available and through time, I’m sure the kids will catch up beautifully. The goal is to teach them enough English speaking so they can communicate with others the basics about who they are, ask questions, talk about the show and its roots, etc. The kids seem excited to learn this language and others. They are already saying “Arregato” and “Como Estas”!
After some time writing the alphabet and some quick reading excercises to gauge all the kids’ levels, Robin bhai, our very close and talented friend from Project Ahimsa (, took the kids outside for Tabla and Music interactions and games.

Robin and Project Ahimsa, have been very closely connected with Manav Sadhna through the past years, supporting music and instrument programs for many of the underpriveleged children here in Ahmedabad. Robin, who recently finished his MFA in World Music from Cal Arts, one of the top Art Schools in the world, is now on a Fulbright Scholarship in India seeking to combine music and education to connect, teach and transform underpriveleged children.

Today, he played an amazing game with the kids, where they were empowered with the opportunity to direct a live ‘human’ orchestra. Each group of kids played a specific sound, that depicted one of the notes in the Tabla Matra. Then after Robin bhai’s examples, one kid at a time, started playing the director role, having the different groups play their sounds on rhythm at different times, in different intensities, to create their own unique musical pieces. What a fantastic interaction!

He then brought it to the practical and real, by gathering them around the actual tabla and demonstrating live how to create some basic sounds with their hands. He arranged tablas for the kids to touch, feel and play while he was showing them how to play it.

At closing prayer and sharing, Nikita shared that she was sad, because she didn’t have a chance to play the music director role or the tabla today. What a beautiful thing, that she can feel open enough to share a sad feeling, instead of holding it inside. It was nice to hear her share this. We then talked about how...[drum rolls please]...this is life. We don’t always get to do everything we want. We don’t always get every opportunity that everyone else gets. But then we also discussed how, taking a step back, we should realize how beautiful it is that God has even given us this huge opportunity to be sitting here together on this EKATVA mission - and much much more. We are all truly blessed.

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