Music education, not only for students, but also for music educators is key to Berklee’s program in Kenya, with the goal of leaving behind tangible instruction to benefit the local community and Berklee alike.
The events on Monday kicked off with a curriculum review discussion with Brookhouse faculty about their newly instituted B-TEC program that was modeled after Berklee’s Contemporary Writing and Production major. CWP professors Ron Reid and Dan Moretti held clinics for local educators where they gave an overview of CWP that touched on resources and materials, and showed how technology can enhance their teaching. They also delved into teaching methods of core classes, including Writing Skills, Arranging 1, and Tech Tools for the Writer.
The sessions quickly turned to Q&A, with the educators sharing common challenges. Said Eric Wainina ‘02, Artistic Director of the Brookhouse Schools’ Academy of Performing Arts, “The problem here is most recording sessions don’t have written music. We have made gains with the technology, but it’s quite leap to go from never having seen a keyboard in your life, to using Logic 9. The problem is explaining the value of learning to write when you can just pull parts from Finale.”
Several people offered insight on the issue. Said Reid, “You might not be able to find the sample in a program. If you’re thinking of becoming a pro musician, there will be instances where you need to be able to hand write music, if you’re on the bandstand and need to change a part. If you teaching, you need to know how to notate well.”
Said Kevin Mbugua ’09, who taught at the Aga Khan Academy in Mombassa, “I’ve thought about this, as students have asked why we need to know this…You take in information and learn all this theory. At some point it becomes color in your palate that you can tap into almost immediately.”
Reid added, “There are always instances where you can’t get the computer to do what you want, so you can tweak it by hand. There’s a way to make the notation adapt to your needs…you also have to leave some room for the players to add things that you didn’t even conceive of.”
Said Berklee student Joey Guglielmo, “You don’t realize all of the things you’re learning until you apply it. You have to find out for yourself, it’s the hardest thing to explain why.”
In his clinic, Moretti offered the educators valuable advice in a variety of areas:
“40% of the grade [in my class] is on time delivery of class assignments and attendance. Why? Because in the real world, you’ve got a deadline. If you don’t make it, you don’t get called back. It’s like that everywhere. There’s a million people out there that want to do what you can do.”
“You always have to give your students a vision beyond their market. Do you have a vision of going beyond your environment? [Music] literacy is a part of that.”
“You can’t underestimate the value of connecting with industry people and getting them to come here, someone to come and inspire you and the students. They might become a donor or connect you with a software company who will donate equipment. Developing those relationships is very important.”
“Find out where your students strengths are. Once you know what their strengths are, you can help them face their weaknesses.”
Sam Skau wrapped up the event by emphasizing that the end of the clinic shouldn’t be the end of the conversation. He started an online community for further discussion, in an effort to keep the lines of communication open between educators in Africa and Berklee.