Meet The Fellows...

(Photo by Sarah Marshall)

John Marshall - Jubilation 2012 retreat video
Fellowship: 2012/2009

"Children are gifted with the capacity to dodge the editing process...Children tap into a freshness of energy and spirit!" says John, drummer extraordinaire. He is using his grant to further his mission of getting kids rhythmically awakened and motivated.

"I've had the great fortune," he says, "to work with absolute novices -- young, inner-city students who never had the opportunity to play an instrument."

A former school teacher, his passion for the drums of Egypt, India, Asia, West Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East lead John to perform, compose, and record in these traditions. And, for the last 25 years, he has shared his knowledge through workshops, classes, and seminars in partnership with schools, arts organizations, and community centers.

"I was recently teaching a hand drum series with a mix of kids and adults," says John. "As the weeks passed, the whole group thoroughly intermingled. Adults learned something about the musical bravery and confidence of childhood, and the kids learned something about the geniality and equanimity of adulthood. At the end of the six-week session, we were just people, or musical citizens, who had built a musical village together."

As part of the Inter-district Music Project in Waterbury CT, he meets with economically-challenged kids attending an arts magnet school, and, together, they create an extended piece of percussion music for Pilobolus Dance Theatre. "It's very democratic," he says, "we work it out together."

The kids rehearse four days a week, three hours a day for a month or so, and come up with a piece 8-10 minutes long. In the process, they learn how to rehearse, and how to work together to create and refine. "Then we perform it at the show, in this huge, beautiful theater. You should see their faces! We record the piece as well, so they have a CD of their music at the end."

In the future, John hopes to open a Rhythmic Integration Center (RIC), featuring a group of teachers, salon-style concerts, and visiting international artists. "It addresses a need," he says. "Both kids and adults want to experience community."

"In the end," says John,"you gotta be yourself. As my wife says, you have to be yourself, everyone else is taken."

John rehearses with the Inter-district Music Project


My students! Also Zakir Hussain, Glen Velez, Steve Reich, Bill Bruford, Dan Weiss, J. S. Bach, George Harrison, Claude Debussy, James Brown, Joe Zawinul, Cecilia Marshall, Igor Stravinsky

John is Reading:
The Music Lesson: a spiritual search for growth through music by Victor Wooten
Classical Riq Technique by Michel Merhej
Rudolf Steiner's Vision of Love by Bernard Nesfield-Cookson

John is Listening to:
Jack Dejonnette: "Music We Are"
Ari Hoenig: "Lines of Oppression"
Dave Stovall: "JIYU"
The Books: "The Lemon of Pink"
Trio Globo: "Steering by the Stars"

(interviewed 2011)

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