The Next Level program opened today in Patna at the St. Karen’s School, and we had a phenomenal start. After meeting with the principal, we addressed the students and teachers of St. Karen’s about the different aspects of the upcoming Next Level program and introduced the Next Level artists who had already arrived.
DJ 2-Tone Jones and Ko (Beatmaker) explained their music, their backgrounds and their instruments. DJ 2-Tone demonstrated how he mixed music together, and Ko explained how he took music apart over a Bollywood song he chopped up into its beats.
After the brief demonstration, we invited the students and the teachers to try out the equipment. The students (and teachers) had a blast scratching on 2-Tone’s controller and making beats on Ko’s drum pad. The line of students stretched on (although it was often their teachers who we had to remind that everyone needed a turn and they had to move on).
Following the demonstration, I sent the teachers out of the room and we all sat on the floor and discussed the program more in-depth. I explained that it was a two-way exchange, and that we were here to learn as much as teach. We discussed the dynamics of the workshop and performance We also spoke about how the history of America music creates the music we listen to today just as the history of Indian music creates what they listen to, and that we would play with both cultures of music during the Next Level Academy.
We had a very good discussion about the PSAs, and the issues that we had considered (Enviroment, Equality/Rights/Gender Violence, Civic Engagment/local democracy). I gave them homework to each write 4 lines about an issue that affects them and how it affects their community; they gave me homework as well– I need to learn two phrases in Hindi and one stanza of a Bollywood song.
After a tour of the facilities of the school, we returned to play some music for the students. A simple music performance turned into India Bandstand, and students took the stage to show off their dance moves. As you can see from the pics, we are working with some really talented students.