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Jack Straw Cultural Center and composer-in-residence Janice Giteck created a two-week pilot project that brought together a dozen ESL students from six countries at Southshore Middle School in Seattle. Sixth, seventh and eighth-grade girls gathered for a pair of 90-minute sessions to discuss their homelands, and what they have experienced since arriving in the U.S. The girls were from Samoa, The Philippines, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mexico and Cambodia.
The Project was led by Giteck and Education coordinator Danielle Eidenberg-Noppe. Participants used the idea of patterns on a quilt as a springboard to music notation. In a circle discussion format during the first week, three themes were evident in nearly all the girls’ stories: happiness, sadness and love. Giteck asked the girls to create a visual symbol for each emotion, drawing that symbol on a 12-square quilt pattern they had on paper.
“We wound up with a variety of beautiful patterns each with a style based on their cultures,” says Giteck. “Each quilt was like a score of their experiences. Using flutes, we made group sounds like each emotion, accompanied by hand percussion and an anklung (Indonesian instrument). Each girl would get up and point at a square on her quilt. The rest would play together as a little orchestra.”
According to Danielle, the girls opened up as they got more comfortable with the workshop. For the second week, each girl brought an object from her country, including audio and video tapes, clothing and various trinkets that helped explain her culture.
Jack Straw engineer Tom Stiles recorded both sessions, and he and Giteck produced a seven-minute “free-form collage” of sounds from the sessions to present to the participants. Below listen to some pieces recorded during this project.
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