March 14th (Pi Day: 3/14) marked my third visit to Richmond’s William Bridge Elementary School to develop our Water Music Big Ideas Project. Like Maggie and Flick, I have been invited by the Vancouver Biennale to facilitate a student-created performance project that takes its “big idea” from one of their public art pieces. Our muse is Jun Ren’s Water #10, on the Cambie Plaza by the dyke. I am working with Ms. Potter’s Grade 7 class, as well as Ms. Tuason’s grade 3 class, and we have already come to learn that, as with Pi, the possibilities to make music inspired by water are infinite.
We have had fun exploring videos of numerous performances on water-based instruments, including this amazing concert by the Melbourne Symphony, using nothing but water-filled glass bottles:
We also brainstormed about all of the ways in which water is a critical resource in our life. The results of this critical thinking will inform the text we use in the song that we are composing together.
Ms. Tuason and Ms. Potter’s highly energetic students are full of great ideas, and they have already greatly improved their deep listening skills through our weekly silent meditations. They have also demonstrated skills as singers, body percussionists, and rain-sound makers. And I’ve been impressed with their ability to follow conducting cues with discipline, and to maintain separate rhythmic lines consistently, while collaborating with layered rhythms.
We explored poetry inspired by water, and each student created their own poem on a water drop, cut from blue construction paper. I also demonstrated a number of water instrument possibilities, which we eventually plan to use in our final performance (bottle flutes, singing crystal glasses, water drums, ice rattles, and rainsticks). And now, over spring break, the students will collect recycled materials that we can use as our instruments.
Finally, we analyzed the words that came from our brainstorm sessions, and catalogued them in phonetic and alphabetic lists, so we could consider the music of the words themselves.
I can’t wait to hear the music that these creative kids come up with for our May 15th performance!