The bullet trains really are as fast they say. After three days of workshops in Tokyo, we headed to Osaka and Kobe, and we covered the 320 mile distance in less than 2 and ½ hours. We put our heads down, and we were there! Friday was a workshop at Kobe Women’s College, where I encountered the most spirited group yet (pictured).
We have begun to find a rhythm with these workshops. We start with some circle singing, all wordless and mainly about making some music in the space. There are usually some pleasant surprises for the instrumentalists – that they can sing and rather instantly sound pretty good. We do some introductions, sing a little more, and then launch into our workshop.
We start with a pretty typical aesthetic ed experience, where the work of art is the focus and the source of the activities. I chose to bring my “Sketches of Venasque” – six short pieces for solo piano so that I could play them live and because it is a kind of travelogue, and I thought that might be interesting, given that I am on journey now. It allows us all to share experiences of travel, and I can make some connections to my everyday disorientations in Japan.
First, I play a couple of the sketches with a short intro, using more pictures than words. Some of them are here below – in front of St. Siffrein, showing off our rental car, sitting at the piano in the studio looking out at Mont Ventoux - all from the Spring of 1990.
Then I ask them to turn to a partner and recount the details of a trip that had great meaning for them. I ask them to make a sketch of an image that has stayed with them from that journey. We title them and have a little gallery walk. Next they convert their sketch into a sound, and then in a small group they create a short piece, combining the different sounds of their journeys. We share the pieces they create, with generous amounts of reflection and analysis, and then I perform the piano pieces again. Invariably, there are lots of insights and epiphanies, and the feeling is pretty good as we take a break for lunch or tea.
That’s Workshop Part I – more on Part II next!