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Thacher Music Blog

Learning and Presenting

On Monday, November 16th at 1pm Thacher will be visited by world reknown konnakol artist Loire Cotler. PARENTS ARE MOST WELCOME TO ATTEND!!! (just come!) Loire has spent her life studying the South Indian art of vocal rhythms. You can watch her at work in a video at bottom. The Upper El and AP programs will be presenting both a short study we are organizing now, and a piece we will arrange with Loire that morning.

At Thacher we work very hard at the internal aspects of musicianship. There are two rich rewards of this. One is a strong ability to hear into the artistry and structure of all musical forms and performance media; that is to say, we are fluent in the universal language of music. The other strength is that when students choose to specialize in an instrument, they approach that instrument with a confident understanding of what will come through it.

Konnakol is a very powerful tool for learning the internal structure of rhythm. Here is a 27 second video of two fourth graders going over the previous days lesson, which is a small, but significantly complex part of what will be their presentation to the school.


There some very cool things happening here, and I’ll save my favorite for last.

At first viewing one can hear the movement of time shift. In fact this study is a musical survey of the five most common note values, dotted quarters, quarters, dotted eighths, eighths, and 16th notes.

Those who chose to listen into it will notice a couple of other remarkable things. One is that these notes are explored in groups of five with the five syllable phrase : Ta Di Qi Na T(h)oom. The odd number 5 causes the phrase to wind up in some interesting places in relation to the beat, hardly ever on the beat. If you wish, you can click on the image below to see how it breaks down.



To further understand on how konnakol internalizes rhythmic skill, you can pay closer attention to the clapping pattern. The hands are actually clapping differently on each beat of an eight beat cycle. Beat 1 claps with the hand, 2 with the pinky, 3 with the ring finger, 4 with the middle finger, 5 with the hand, 6 with the closed hand, 7 with the hand and 8 with the closed hand. Rhythm demands that we measure phrasing against a periodic cycle of beats. This is a wonderful way to bring attention to both the regulation of the beat cycle in the body, and the playful subdivisions of phrases around that structure.

My favorite moment happens just after 13 seconds in. Here we see the student self-correct the hand pattern. In this brief instant one can observe a child not only in contact with two different complex patterns of time, but in the effort of discernment, choice and self direction. This is our work in a nutshell. In truth, it is the concentrated ability to integrate these different actions which are different in scale and category into one simultaneous movement that allows the child to attain such complex abilities in less then an hour’s time.

If you can make it to presentation on the 16th, please do come!


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