EKTAVA – All in One @ Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad

I arrived in India over 2 weeks ago, and each day since has been full of music, service, art and love. There has been of course the usual adjustment period healthwise, but the sustenance from art and community have carried me through. After arriving in Delhi for Fulbright Orientation, I made my way onto to Kolkata to meet with ITC Sangeet Research Academy, the institution that is hosting me for the next 9 months in India. From Kolkata, I was off to Gujarat for 10 days, where I began project development in earnest at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, where NGO Manav Sadhna is based. My research on music education here will be primarily focused on a project entitled EKTAVA, which literally means Oneness. This project, featuring 18 extremely talented children from some of the poorest sections of Ahmedabad, is a multi year dance/theater/music project that is being developed by Nimesh Patel and Darpana Academy. Children meet daily for 2 hours to practice dance and choreography at Darpana. The evolving storyline, due to be complete in the next 3 months, will focus on Gandhian principles of compassion, unity, and non-violence. A substantial donation from Compassionate Chefs Cafe, based in San Francisco, has made rehearsals and logistics possible for this special project, which one day aims to tour the world.

As part of rehearsal one day, I led a Conduction session with the children based on tabla bols. We first learned to clap basic rhythms in Dadra (cycles of 6), followed by each child having a chance to lead the group with their own creativity.

The children are incredibly inventive and creative, and in just the few days that I was part of rehearsals, I noticed tremendous progress in terms of listening and staying focused.

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The skills they are developing together will organically result in a production. Nimesh has been fully focused on supporting this project, and his original project Let Them Sing served as the basis for Global Lingo.

We hope to collaborate more in the coming months, as Global Lingo 2 comes into form in tandem with this special project. The donation from Compassionate Chefs Cafe also helps provide daily nutritious meals, safe transportation, and practice space for the children.

My session with the children ended with tabla lessons, where they were able to incorporate the body rhythm exercises into actual playing. I’ll be returning to Manav Sadhna to support this project in March/April 2011, after 3 months in Kolkata.