Kids learn to ‘say what they play’
By IAN SKOTTE
Children young and old alike got ‘hip to the beat’ Thursday at the Coffee County Lannom Memorial Public Library.
Drums banged, instruments tinged and feet tapped.
It was all part of a free “West Africa meets hip-hop” interactive performance and workshop held at the library and co-sponsored by Tullahoma Parks and Recreation Department.
“(Hands on with) Zig opens the door to allowing kids to be creative musically, even if they aren’t involved in music,” said parks and recreation activities director Merrill Meadows.
“By using his ‘if you can say it, you can play it’ method, the children and adults were able to create West African and hip-hop rhythms that had us dancing in the library.”
Zig Wajler is a professional musician, educational technology specialist and author of several music education books who has been called the ‘Pied Piper’ of music by multiple publications.
Wajler showed off his music skills Thursday afternoon with subtle moves of his hands.
“You have to use your eyes,” Wajler told the children gathered for the workshop. “Why? Because when you do that your ears are going to this (to the left, right and all around, he demonstrated) and your eyes are to see me play with my fingers, my thumbs, my palms and my hands.”
He didn’t stop there. Wajler used his body as an instrument by calling out West African chants while shaking, scraping and stomping.
Pulling out bizarre looking instruments, Wajler extracted unique sounds that would get the kids moving.
“There is just no way to sit still during a hands-on with Zig interactive program,” said Meadows.
With a background in West African music, Wajler taught attendees the “African way.”
“The African way is to ‘say’ what you play,” he said. This involves learning the instrument’s name, which included an udu and djembe.
Wajler said he hasn’t forgotten his roots, though, and pays homage to his teachers.
“The reason I get to do this,” he said, “is I had wonderful teachers. When I play, I consider it a reflection of them. And if you remember one thing that I mentioned today it’s that we’re all successful. That’s great.”
Wajler offers programs to schools all over Tennessee. To learn more, go to his website at handsonwithzig.com