-From Wenhong, Viola
Today we spent our day in a town called Ashikaga, it was my first time to be outside of Tokyo in Japan, so I was amazed by the beautiful scenery of the Japanese country side.
I started by visiting an elementary school where the kids were so pure and passionate. Each of us went to classrooms individually, and it was so fun to play for the kids and do some games – I imitated some animals using my viola and made them guess and draw on the blackboard, they did a great job even they barely speak English.
Look forward to seeing more children in the next two weeks!
-From Michael, Cello
On the second full day of ICEP we gave 8 different performances.
Our first stop was the Yamamae elementary school in Ashikaga-City. We started the visit with individual class visits, and I was lucky to get three first grade classes! This is always my favorite part of ICEP as I spend 5-10 minutes with each class all by myself and have to use the little Japanese I know and a lot of pantomime to teach the children a few things about the cello. Over the past few ICEP’s I have developed several and demonstrations that always work well and bring out quite a bit of laughter from the students! Following the class visits we reconvened as a quartet and played 3 assembly performances for students in grades 4-6. The students were very attentive and asked some excellent questions. I always enjoy playing at elementary schools in Japan and this time was no exception.
The second part of the day brought us to the Kibou-no-ie hospital in Midori City. I tend to find hospital visits quite difficult but always powerful and meaningful. We played for four different groups – the first and last groups consisted mostly of children whereas the other two had a mixed audience of adult and young patients. Many of the conditions and illnesses we encountered were severe but we could see the obvious impact that the music had on the audience. Many of the patients had limited motor skills and yet when the music started many of them started moving with the music, tapping the rhythm, and even conducting! You could see the change in their faces as many of them smiled and their eyes were fixed on us as we were playing. We decided to spend most of our performances walking around the room individually so that everybody can see and hear our instruments from closer and have a more intimate experience of the music. These visits, as emotionally draining as they can be, always remind me the importance of sharing live music with everybody – especially those who are not fortunate enough to have access to concert halls.
While on our way the train station we had a little scare as we realized that Jeremias forgot to switch out of the hospital slippers and left his own shoes back at the hospital! Fortunately the shoes made it back in time and are now reunited with Jeremias.
We have just arrived Higashimatushima and are expecting another long and exciting day tomorrow!