Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Live Connections at the World Café Live

Back in November, six Art-Reach member agency groups, totaling over 60 people, gathered at the World Café Live to take part in the Language of Rhythm Bridge Session. As an Art-Reach staff member and loyal XPN fan, I was excited to see what these bridge sessions were about and was beyond impressed by the musicians, the members, and the venue.


Josh Robinson, an Art-Reach in-facility artist (as Rhythms and Roots) and talented musician, along with two other teaching artists/musicians, led this interactive workshop to explore how rhythm and rhyming can be used to communicate and express emotion.
The program started off with the band improvising music based on the question posed to the audience “how are you feeling today?” and the answers “enamored, sleepy, and excited.” It was amazing how the music played sounded just like those emotions and the Art-Reach groups were immediately transformed into artists, musicians, performers and poets for the next two hours.

Collectively, all 60 people in the audience brainstormed words that finish the sentence “my neighborhood sounds/smells/looks like…” They then compiled these words and phrases into a poem and volunteers stood up to read along to music played on drums,

keyboards, chimes and a number of other percussion instruments.

Here is the poem written by Art-Reach members:

The soundtrack of my life
sounds like butterflies screaming in the wind
A man searching for peace after a storm, a good place to hide
Hummingbirds and bees running through traffic
Children playing in sweet & sour sewage like a
corned beef special
Honeydew in the morning
As Ghetto As It Gets

By the end of the workshop, almost everyone in the room had an instrument in hand. My favorite was the man playing a large upside-down Tupperware bucket with drumsticks. And when the 60-person jam session ended, no one seemed ready to leave. I certainly wasn’t!

Launched in 2008 by a team of artists, educators and entrepreneurs, LiveConnections.org (LCO) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to music, education and support for artists. Through its work, LCO connects all kinds of people through all kinds of music. Each program seeks to blend great art, personal contact and diverse perspectives.  LiveConnections.org’s Bridge Sessions Program brings together musicians from different disciplines and backgrounds with groups of students, seniors and disabled populations in an interactive exploration of music and cultures. By bringing together artists who cross genres and cultures, the sessions encourage participants to consider multiple points of view and build their understanding of perspectives different from their own.

The next Bridge Session will take place on April 13th.  Entitled World of Percussion this program features Doc Gibbs, who was the musical director for the Emeril Live! show. He, along with two other talented percussionists, brings instruments to life, making them sing and literally talk to tell a story. It is an interactive session that resulted in dancing, and instrument playing when Art-Reach members last took part in the program in 2009. This program is open to Art-Reach member organizations serving adults with disabilities who are high functioning. If you are interested, please contact the programming department at 215-568-2115 x4 or x5 or email Matt Bryan at mbryan@art-reach.org 

-By Rachel Robbins


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