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Mile of Music Education encourages hands-on musical expression

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The jingling of tambourines, the rhythm of drums and the unique sounds of several other instruments blended together to create the Brazilian Samba in Houdini Plaza as the Mile of Music kicked off on Thursday. Festivalgoers have another chance to get into the action today at noon at the Conservatory Green.
Around 50 children and adults came to participate in the culture-rich drum jam, which Mile of Music Education Curator Leila Ramagopal Pertl says always draws several people of all different ages and from all different musical backgrounds.

“The Samba at Mile of Music is one favorite event because of its power to get bring people together to groove,” she says. “The rhythms are powerful, compelling and, because of the guidance of the MET, everyone can join in and be a part of the music.”

A few members of the Music Education Team (MET), who also happen to be members of the Lawrence University Percussion Studio, led the Brazilian Samba by telling the ensemble, called a “bateria,” when to start, stop and switch rhythms.

IMG_1923Luke Rivard, who recently completed his Bachelor of Arts in Music at Lawrence and is helping out at the Mile of Music for his second year, is one of the Samba leaders. “I like this event because it brings the community together to play an authentic style of drumming, no matter what the experience levels might be,” he says.

The Brazilian Samba is only one of 45 total events being offered over the course of four days at the Mile of Music. The growth of the festival over the past three years is reflected in the growth of the Music Education program. The first year, there were only five MET members and 13 events; the next year, the MET grew to 12 members and staged 33 events. Now, Mile 3 has a MET of 16 members — and 15 of those are Lawrence University students or graduates, like Rivard.

With a larger team and a larger amount of educational music events than ever before, Mile of Music goers have more opportunities to learn in fun, interactive sessions. Pertl encourages anyone who sees a workshop or activity that looks interesting to not be afraid to jump in and try it out. “We all have an inner musician wanting to come out to play,” she says, “So, let loose and join in the fun!”

The Music Education events at Mile 3 range from songwriting sessions, to instrument workshops, to full-out rock, brass and jazz jam sessions. “You can also try out the Garbage Band Jam, where we take brooms, garbage cans, bottles and everything else we can find to lay down some dirty grooves,” Pertl says.

According to Pertl, the whole goal of Music Education at the Mile of Music is to destroy the gap between the audience and the performer to emphasize the fact that music is our “birthright,” meaning it can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone!

We hope our events can light a spark that carries the love, joy and need for music making far beyond the four days of Mile of Music,” Pertl says. “If our MET events can give a child that first thrill of community music making, inspire someone to rejoin their community choir, encourage someone to start playing their guitar again, compel someone to start taking flute lessons — then we have started to fulfill the mission of the Mile of Music Education Team.”

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