Towards the end of February 2020, our cello students put together an in-house recital at our office. Over 15 young children gathered, along with their parents, to play solos and duets. This gave them a chance to be in the spotlight and an opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Just three weeks later, the country went into a national lockdown and the world as we knew it, changed forever.
The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on education of all kinds – not just music. Online learning has been difficult with poor network connectivity, lack of adequate devices and a sudden leap into handling technology for teachers, parents and children alike.
Music education all around the world has been affected by the pandemic. Institutions everywhere continue to remain shut as one wave after another hits us just as we think things are getting better. At Child’s Play India, we were planning to restart in 2022, but the Omicron third wave has compelled us to delay our plans once more.
We are optimists, though. We want to get back to making music as soon as it is safe for children to be in classrooms once more. For that to happen, we are recruiting teachers now for violin, viola and cello.
But first, some background.
Child’s Play (India) Foundation is a music education charity that seeks to instil positive values and provide social empowerment to India’s disadvantaged children through the teaching of classical music to the highest possible standard. It is largely inspired by the El Sistema music revolution in Latin America, which since the 1970s has been providing classical music education that promotes opportunity and development for impoverished children, an idea that has spread around the world, touching the lives of millions.
Child’s Play India Foundation was founded by physician, musician and music journalist Dr. Luis Dias in 2009.
It currently offers pedagogy in violin, viola, cello, recorder, transverse flute, piano and choir to around 100 children across three locations in Goa. The charity works with children who cannot afford music lessons. After-school classes are held at various locations including schools, and a village project open to all children of the village. Classes are also held at the Foundation’s office in Panjim.
Our orchestra, Camerata Child’s Play India, is made up of advanced students, teachers, visiting performers and musicians from the wider community. It was formed in 2013, and has since given over 50 performances in the state, a major highlight being its enthusiastically-acclaimed performance at the prestigious Monte Music festival in 2013. As in the Sistema model, there is also a Junior ensemble, a student orchestra made up of Child’s Play students and other children from the state, providing a vital opportunity to children from all social backgrounds to have the experience of playing in an ensemble. Many students from the junior orchestra have since graduated to perform in Camerata Child’s Play India in recent years.
The Child’s Play Chorus similarly offers children from the project and beyond the thrill of singing together in harmony, and has sung at several concerts and visited children’s wards in the local hospital at Christmastime.
In the summer holidays, Child’s Play hosts a choir and orchestra summer camp for children, open to all. The intensive camp welcomes young musicians to make music as an ensemble and culminates in a public concert.
Child’s Play organises at least two concerts (the Monsoon and Christmas concerts) each year, and hosts several benefit concerts by visiting performers as well. Performers and teachers have supported the initiative, either on short-term visits or longer teaching engagements ranging from six months to a year, from countries all over the world, such as the US, UK, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Iceland among many others.
Our cello project is an ambitious one. 2018 was our ‘Year of the Cello’ where we set out to popularise the instrument and make learning accessible. All over the country, there are woefully too few cellists and cello teachers. This project aims to create a new generation of cellists by giving them access to teachers and instruments. To reach out to as many musicians as possible, the cello project is open to the wider community, including adult learners. We have had an excellent response to this over the past few years.
During the pandemic, we worked on building our music library. This will be a unique offering to our students (and in time, the wider public) to have access to books and music in an effort to widen their musical horizons and get a deeper understanding of everything related to western classical music. We have child-friendly books on music theory, the lives of the great composers and ballet, among others. We plan to have CD and MP3 players to create “listening stations” where children can quietly listen to pre-loaded tracks which could be something they are studying or other works.
We have also been donated an upright piano for our office and we plan (in due course) to offer piano classes as well as offering practice sessions (during quieter times of the day).
Work with us
Child’s Play India seeks applications from experienced teachers in upper strings and cello. The salary offered is commensurate with experience. Key responsibilities include teaching, performing at concerts, and chamber music sessions with other faculty members and advanced students. Accommodation can be arranged for applicants from beyond Goa. Please send your CVs with links to videos/clips of performances or recitals to [email protected].
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