This season, we are celebrating the many ways which music can expand a person’s world view, and the ways that music can transcend age, language, and more to bring people a little closer together.
Today we talk with Program Director Jason Aiello to explore the possibilities of travel that may be open to your child if they continue to play music at Santa Monica High School!
Imagine the opportunity to travel internationally at 16 years old, and to share a language you have been working to master for 8 of those 16 years! When students choose their music classes in elementary school, they don’t necessarily know where music may lead them. In Santa Monica, students are extremely fortunate to have incredible music programs in the public schools. By the time they get to Santa Monica High School, many students have the chance to travel internationally with their musical ensembles!
Jason Aiello, Assistant Director of Elemental Strings, is in his 13th year as an Orchestra Director at SAMOHI. In those years, the SAMOHI Orchestras have toured three different continents - Asia, Europe, and South America! Jason explained,
A lot of the special moments on tour are meeting other musicians. We’ve been fortunate enough in different countries to work with musicians from the areas we visit, and to have conductors work with the orchestra. They don’t always speak English fluently, but they really communicate by playing with the students and singing parts. Students are able to see how music kind of crosses that language barrier just because it’s universal to everyone.
One tour to China included a visit to a school where students played traditional music on Chinese instruments. Chinese and American students performed for each other, music laying the groundwork for community and camaraderie between the ensembles. Following the performances, the students made dumplings together and eventually began playing basketball.
It started with just a couple kids and by the end, there were about 50 kids running back and forth on the court!
Another tour brought the SAMOHI students to Prague, where they had the opportunity to perform Smetana’s famous tone poem, The Moldau, in the Rudolfinum (think: the Carnegie Hall of the Czech Republic). After the performance, students were able to wander by the banks of the very same Moldau river depicted by Smetana in his famous work.
Touring with the orchestra not only brings SAMOHI musicians closer together, but it helps the students feel like they are part of a wider global community of music makers. While your child’s squawking clarinet practice in the living room may not seem like a profound experience, in several years, it could just lead to … Argentina, Paris, London…the possibilities are vast!