Music and the Silk Road

A marginally happier blogger is back today. I'm feeling better, but H. is now down for the count. Poor thing can't catch a break these days. Right now she is sound asleep which is good because she can't keep anything down. But as the doctor who saw the little girls for their ear infections said, if you homeschool, you can always get to school even if you're sick.

That is essentially what happened yesterday. As you know, we've been learning about the Silk Road. (It's my newest fascination, so you'll just have to bear with me as I work it our of my system.) With homeschooling, as well as getting to go to school when you're sick, there are also no definite lines between subjects. There are connections everywhere and it is difficult to say where history ends and geography, music, art, and language studies begin. In fact, I believe it is all these other things which make the study of history come alive. Which is why if you had stopped by my house yesterday morning you would have found a coughing group of droopy children watching a concert on the television.

In 1998, the cellist, Yo Yo Ma, started the Silk Road Ensemble, designed to bring together musicians and cultures from across the ancient Silk Road. These musicians sought to understand each other's musical traditions and collaborate on making new music together. It has been going strong ever since. I found a recorded concert that the ensemble gave at Tanglewood about 10 years ago. (It's on Amazon Prime Instant Video, if you have prime.) I wasn't sure how the children would enjoy it, but I had a pretty captive audience, so decided yesterday was a good morning to try it out.

For the most part, everyone was pretty fascinated. In between the musical selections were interviews with different musicians. The music was fantastic and well-done. While it differed from standard Western music was accessible and interesting to listen to. Most of my people were really very interested in it and we talked a lot about the different instruments and what types of instruments seem to be common across cultures. The joy in creating music that these artists exuded was also wonderful to see. (The making of music in our culture is sorely under-appreciated these days. Everyone should have the experience and ability to create their own music instead of having it piped directly into their ear canal. Sorry, rant over.)

Everyone was so interested in the music that I will probably buy a CD or two of the ensemble. (Plus, I just really liked it myself.) It will be the cheaper option of taking many people to see them live. I was so excited to see the ensemble will be here in March. I guess it's been a while since I've been to Orchestra Hall and not getting student rates. I did gulp a bit at the price of individual tickets.. even in the upper balcony, where I prefer to sit anyway. We'll need to be content with the CD's.

I highly recommend the Silk Road Ensemble to you and your children. Try it!


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