What a phenomenal closing to a 3-year, 4-visit project with the Turkmen National Conservatory in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Congratulations to the students on a remarkable final concert! I am profoundly grateful for this experience would like to thank Nargiza Metyakubova and the staff of the U.S. Embassy, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan for their generous support visit after visit. And of course John Ferguson and the American Voices team for believing in this work and for creating this opportunity.
The benefits of this program were numerous and far-ranging. Because it was a multi-stage project, we were able to cultivate meaningful and close relationships with various community members with whom we engaged with, from Conservatory students and American Center public, to local teachers, staff and young professionals associated with the music scene. Through these long-term friendships and partnerships, we were able to convey a huge range of knowledge, expertise, teacher training feedback, and general advice. The students we taught will become the next generation of teachers and performers in Turkmenistan and hopefully what we shared will inspire them be more curious and creative in their artistry!
For me, the goal was always to invite the students to learn in a new way. Through playful encouragement and creative collaboration, I tried to shape a non-intimidating learning environment. Using the creative flexibility found in American music styles, I pushed the students to explore the uncharted technical landscape of the cello. To my delight, the students really responded to this new creative freedom and I noticed a marked difference in their overall confidence and creative imagination visit after visit.
For me, these four visits have been richly rewarding and transformative
and the experience of teaching in Turkmenistan specifically really
reinforced my belief in the communicative power of music to connect us
all as global citizens. Music is a powerful diplomatic tool in helping to discover and celebrate our similarities. This shared language allows for immediate and deeply-felt communication, a form of communication which may at times succeed when other more conventional forms of diplomacy fall short. To me, exciting and deeply felt music-making and learning can create the ultimate platform for powerful human connections and meaningful cultural exchange.
|My first performance as a standing cellist!|
|Ready to rock it|
|With my incomparable colleagues|
|With students from the Turkmen Folk Music Department|
|Our quartet got down with some Kenji Bunch|
|Huge honor to conduct the Turkmen String Orchestra|