A Musical Lotus Pond – ISME 2012 in Thessaloniki, Greece

Workshop given on Monday 16 July 2012

Impressions | Song lyrics and video introduction >>

This workshop celebrates the capacity of all educators to bring beauty into the lives of children, young people and adults – not only music specialists. This includes those for whom such an experience may so far have seemed a distant dream. Here we explore the integration of elements found in Indian music and art. From experience we know that on account of their flexibility, these elements can enrich a wide range of subjects beyond music. This works well within and beyond any conventional school curriculum, just as in museum and special education.

We believe that lived experiences of music, in all their many aspects, are a vital part of the life of all people – isme.org

In spite of the detrimental effects of the current economic turmoils in all fields, including music education, we believe that active participation in music is more than a luxury. In times like these, it should play a greater, not smaller role in all schools (not merely those in “better” neighborhoods); and this can be done.

We therefore present our workshop with the motto of this world conference in mind, which is Music Pædeia: From Ancient Greek Philosophers Toward Global Music Communities. This is an opportunity to take Plato and Aristotle’s view quite literally. With them as benevolent guides, we reiterate our conviction that music is indeed an effective tool to promote social harmony (Philip Ball)*.

The lotus pond provides us with a colourful and universal metaphor linking different cultures just as the ancient world with our times. In this spirit, we draw inspiration from one of the great poets of the 20th century: Rabindranath Tagore, Asia’s first Nobel-awardee.*

Ahead of his time and a multi-talented pioneer in several fields including music, art and intercultural education, he boldly declared:

Art like life revels in a rhythmic play of appearances for its own sake. Art belongs to the region of intuition, the unconscious, the superfluous.

* See Nobel.org for more. The two quotes of Rabindranath Tagore are found in India and Modern Art by W. Archer (London, 1959), pp. 50-51 and The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can’t Do Without it by Philip Ball (London, 2010), p. 14.

Rabindranath Tagore sketched by Martin Monickendam (Amsterdam lecture, 23 September 1920)