The Tribe in the Underground cave

Aarya Banthia

Have you ever visited the underground cave at our school? Did you even know our school had one? Welcome to the Cave of Music, in other words the Band Room. “It’s a place where people from different backgrounds with different preferences come together to form a tribe with music as the common denominator.” The teacher responsible for the cave, Ms. Bolton is often described as ebullient and passionate about music. She manages to develop this passion for music in whomsoever visits this cave. The location under the Theater may make the Cave seem secluded from the rest of the school, yet the music that is created within is an everlasting, integral part of our community.

Ms. Bolton has been a part of the AES community for the greater part of a decade. With her time here, she has revolutionized the way music impacts the community. The Music Honour Society, Flute choir, EMG are just a few of the countless ways in which she has developed music in our community. In fact, what would our school be without music and Ms. Bolton? What would Fall Fiesta sound like without music? Music is the magic that gives life to humanity. Many love listening to this magic, but few are able to create some of their own. It is under Ms. Bolton that the seeds for such magic are planted: people can create magic of their own. This is what music and Ms. Bolton bring to AES. The magic of creativity. The magic of sound. The magic of thought.

Here’s an excerpt of Ms. Bolton’s thoughts about Music in education.

“I think [it] makes a place for a community… Music ensembles can become your tribe.... And as far as [music] being a creative outlet, well… there is a process of interpreting what was written and figuring out how to make [the sheet of music] as musical as you can. There is this creative outlet and creative expression that is a part of it…. Moreover, the rigors and the challenges of music are different from other academics because some of it is physical. When you are playing an instrument, you have got to master the motor skills. It is not necessarily a concept you are working at, its motor skills. Altogether, I think it is important to have all of those opportunities in education so we can be more well rounded individuals and more well rounded as a society.”

Furthermore, she has introduced a novel idea, Jam Sessions (sessions where students reproduce a song cover solely by listening) based on Lucy Greene’s academic research, to help students augment their music capabilities while having fun.

“My hope is that Jam sessions are empowering students to make musical decisions for themselves rather than being told by the conductor what to do. Students are empowered to make musical decisions and to evaluate and to listen to their own performing in a different way … it puts that responsibility on the students. By choosing music they would like to replicate it’s something they are excited and interested about doing …. ‘okay I am going to own this piece, I liked it before, now how do I make it mine…’ Another thing that has been a really happy byproduct is that students’ listening skills and their ability to fine tune their x-ray ears has increased because they are listening in a different way. They are not just listening to the music for the sake of listening to it, but they are listening to it, analyzing and figuring out what is happening in each of the different layers and then thinking [about replicating the music with the instruments and experiences available]. It’s all about refining those listening skills.”

A few words for Adults.

In Ms. Bolton’s words, “the student’s at AES make teaching music a joy.” But music isn’t just for them. “It’s never too late to be part of music. It’s never too late to learn a new instrument. If you [adults] have always wanted to learn how to play the violin, there’s a way to make that happen. If you sing in the shower, and some little part of your heart has always wanted to be in the choir, even if it’s adults that are reading this article, there’s a way to do that. There’s always a way to make music a part of your life. It doesn’t matter what training or experience you have had in school, or if you have had none at all— music is for everybody.” Music, in Ms. Bolton’s view, isn’t a language that has to be learned because of its universal nature. It is a form of expression. To all parents and teachers reading this: come “set up a time, and learn how to play that trumpet you always wanted to learn how to play” with Ms. Bolton.

The ROAR hopes to collaborate with Ms. Bolton in the future to teach music to the parents and teachers of AES. Join us in making a new musical tribe.