Teaching/Daily Schedule

Violin Teaching at the Gandhi Ashram School

The first day was characterized by complete chaos, mostly generated by the lack of a viable daily schedule of classes (which could have been taken care of far in advance).

On the second day of classes, S (one of the directors of the program at Colby) and K spent approximately three hours devising a daily schedule that would accommodate the number of classrooms available, the grade levels of the Gandhi Ashram students on campus for their winter session, and the numbers of Colby student teachers available for each period. It took another day to streamline and get everyone used to the schedule.

I wanted to craft a curriculum that would cover violin technique, chamber music and orchestra. K and S’s schedule involved keeping grades together, so first period was class 7 & 8, and second period was class 5 & 6, followed by tea. Third period was 3 & 4, which had a huge number of students, so we alternated days for their violin class. One day was class 3, the next was class 4, etc. On alternate days, the students not having violin class met with K for musicianship and also to learn the recorder.

karen_in_class.jpg

For most of the first week, I attended my student’s classes (E and L), helped tune the very substandard instruments and offered suggestions for classroom approach and content.

In addition, within each period we also alternated between violin class, orchestra sectionals and chamber music. The G.A. students’ regular teacher, R, was very helpful in rounding up the proper students (pulling them from classes, etc.). Without his constant help, we would not have been able to carry out this complicated schedule. After Father P decided which students would be going to Delhi to perform, I began working exclusively with them on the Minuet and Trio movement of the Mozart String Quartet, K.387 in G major.

Returning to the schedule, after lunch was free period for most of the students. I alternated between working with the Gandhi Ashram Boarders Orchestra (those students who were attending other schools, but chose to live at the Ashram), a smaller chamber orchestra, and a large orchestra comprised completely of violins. The Colby teachers organized basketball and other games for this period.

At 3:30 p.m. the day was over and we were exhausted.

Daily Routine

After 3:30 p.m., if our driver hadn’t been commandeered by someone else for sight-seeing or some capricious whim, we usually went into town to an internet cafe, and then either had dinner there or back at the school. By 8:00, we were all ready for bed. The “boy”, as they called him at the Holumba, would arrive with hot water bottles for our beds. This really helped because it was extremely cold and humid (odd combination) in our rooms.

The alarm went off at 5:00 a.m., at which time we turned on the water heater for 30 minutes before the first shower. Each bathroom had a separate very small water heater (approximately 5 gallons). It was good for about 2 minutes of hot water and another 2 minutes of lukewarm. We learned to take care of business quickly. At 7:40, we met our driver (a wonderful man with a very sweet, personable, and smart 13 year old son) and we headed down the hill to the Ashram for breakfast and another day!

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