Mumbai blog post 2


In this photo are some kids from Dharavi slum in their community centre. Dharavi slum is one of the oldest slums in Mumbai. Bluefrog – a music venue in mumbai has teamed up with Camlin – a stationary company to host music and art workshops with children from slum areas. The current workshops are meant to spread the ideas by the Indian government for a ‘Swaach Bharat’ (a clean India). Priyanka the workshop leader spoke to the kids about making a Swaach Bharat and taught them a song – using a story book designed by her and an artist. The song was about cleaning up and recycling. We then used big plastic bins as drums, Jharoo (indian sweeper brush) as shakers, and shovels as crash cymbals to build up our own trash percussion band.

Then we painted the rubbish bins!

After this it was time to go outside and clean up. Led by guitarist, Thomas we followed in a long line with the bins, Jharoos and shovels, gloves and masks on, the kids singing the Swaach Barat song. At the end the kids got the story book to take home and paints to colour it in.


I met with the music teachers from Muktangan school, a school for underprivileged children in Mumbai. The music teachers are from the same community as the children. They have 1 year of training and then go on to teach in their local Muktangan school, There are 7 Muktangan schools in total. They meet once a week to plan their lessons all together with Signy, the music facilitator. I will be meeting the ladies once a week to share teaching ideas, songs, games, rhythm activities and instrumental skills. After our first session, the ladies brought out tubs of home made food and we all sat down and had a feast!

I have been observing Gateway school for special needs this week and chatting with Rimi Chopra – the music teacher there. She is one of the most patient teachers I have ever met and has a really lovely way with the kids. I’m really excited to be working with her. She also put me in touch with St Judes day care centre – a rehabilitation centre for children with cancer. Rimi works there as a psychologist. The centre has a large bunch of percussion instruments, ukuleles and music resources. The centre used to have a music therapist but no longer does. I led a music session this week with some of the older kids, we used the ukuleles, and shakers to sing “in the jungle” – Rimi practiced with the singers and I took the ukulele team, then we put the song together – and then swapped.  Afterwards Rimi was keen to learn some ukulele chords, so she can make use of instruments.

I took my first music session with some of the street kids from Dharavi as part of “Dharavi Art room”, an NGO supporting the street families of Dharavi. It was a lot of fun – the kids were up for being daft and singing lots of songs including the shark attack song. Aqui, (left in photo above) who started the Art room with Himanshu is keen to have a concert at the end of march to give the kids a chance to perform and raise money for the art room. I going to try and source second hand instruments for the art room- the kids are really keen to play. Aqui suggested putting posts on mumbai Facebook pages – to see if people have old instruments lying around.


Mumbai blog post 1

I am now 2 weeks into my residency in Mumbai. After a few jet – lagged walks dodging cars, tuk tuks, dogs and cows I am happy to say I can cross the road now without thinking my life is going to end. People are really friendly – friendlier than most places I’ve ever been. Except a few folk just stare or laugh and one kid turned around, saw me and nearly jumped out his skin but mostly they are just really nice.

I’m staying in an apartment I found through air BnB with Sangeeta the host and her maid Kala. Kala doesn’t speak much english, and my hindi is nowhere in sight yet so we have a laugh kind of dancing at each other. She actually doesn’t dance, mostly just smiles and talks at me in Hindi. She makes an amazing masala chai. I was having about 3 a day when I first arrived. It has a lot of sugar and I thought my teeth were going to fall out one night so I’ve lowered the masala chai dose and got out the Sensodyne.


My mentor for the residency is Vicky Cave and she came out for the first week to help me find my feet and meet the organisations.

The first person we met was Ramesh. He runs a school for street kids called Aashansh. The school started with 2 pupils and now has 22 regularly attending pupils. Ramesh worked hard to convince the families that education was good by going to their homes and talking to them. I will be doing a music session with them once a week.

The other organisations we met were Muktangan, Mewsic, Gateway School for special needs, Blue Frog and St Jude’s Day Care Centre – I will talk about them more individually as I write more blog posts. I will pretty much be going into these centres once a week, teaching music to the kids, or swapping and discussing ideas with the teachers.


Taintless Tide

Thankyou Mike Guest for this video ! Thanks to Louise Bichan and Alan McMaster for their footage and to Elph for the extra cool Titles. 

The title comes from the poem “The Tide River ” by Charles Kingsley.

I wrote this piece for the Distil Showcase 2014

To help write it, I followed the shape of a river starting high up in the mountains, settling into a stream, rushing into rapids, slowing into a meander and finally meeting the ocean’s lapping tide. I sketched the river (below) to help me visualise and mould the music around this idea.

river sketch

Signy Jakobsdottir

McFall's Chamber Quintet