First session: Bloomingdale School, 2013.03.02

| March 13, 2013

1. Discussion/Introduction: What brought you here today?

Each person spoke about his or her background and how it was shaping his/her hopes and expectations for the day’s teaching and learning exchange.

2. A proposed format: some ideas about how we may proceed

  • Share our work as teaching artists and performing artists
  • Conduct a form of research through experimentation
  • Focus feedback on our own individual responses (what was it like for me?) rather than delivering judgments about what works and doesn’t work in some absolute sense
  • Go beyond conventional instruction (which appeals directly to the student’s verbal brain and conscious awareness by telling them what they’re supposed to know) and reach down to subliminal levels (deep brain) via intuitive action

3. A demonstration: Michael and Bill mimed a phone conversation that moved between everyday speech and scat vocals; there was some movement and a little keyboard improv.

  • Purpose: to illustrate attunement–a way of interrelating with another through vocalization and gesture, as mothers do with infants; an demonstration of communicative musicality through improvisation
  • Shifted between mime (a concrete representation of talking on phone) and experimental music/dance (abstract invention)
  • Moved from exploration (emergent play) through uncertainty to discovery of new possibilities (different from a goal-directed presentation of scripted sounds and actions, and from work designed to accomplish some functional end)
  • Discussion of what happened and how it affected the observers

4. Bill’s segment


  • to help participants get comfortable using their bodies expressively;
  • to explore rhythm through movement improvisation by initiating or following gestures that generate their own rhythmic impulse


  • Brief introduction about how mirror neurons enable us to identify with others, providing a potential source of empathy
  • Mirroring exercise
    • Find a partner
    • Designate a leader and follower
    • The leader moves
    • The follower mirrors his or her movements
    • During the game, switch roles; take turns leading and following without interrupting the movement; increase tempo of alternation
  • Discussion of what happened
  • Variation: Movement “echo”
    • Leader produces a complete gesture with beginning, middle, and ending
    • Follower copies the leader’s movement, as before, but now with a delay, starting only when the leader completes the gesture
    • Continue alternating in “call-and-response” format
    • Switch roles so both experience leading and following
  • Discussion of what happened

5. Michael’s segment

  • Simple set of instructions: Play/Sing or Move or Be Still
  • Discussion of what happened
  • Variation that included writing verbal directions or suggestions on the board
  • Discussion of what happened