Saturday, November 19, 2011

15th Century Music, Homeschool, and Modern Kids

Last night we drug our two younger kids to a concert and talk by the group Asteria, a couple who sing, play, and research 15th century medieval music at Stanford University. The kids, who have been dysregulated the past couple of weeks anyway, were not looking forward to it by any means! But because we happened to be exactly at this era in our homeschool world history, I made them go. What a mean mom!

Ms. D brought a friend, and I was really worried, especially when Ms. D started doing her crazy laugh as we were walking to the auditorium in the rain.  But the kids did wonderfully.  They were quiet.  Mr. I brought a sketch book, in which he was decorating letters, which was just like the pictures that were shown and a copy of a songbook displayed that Stanford recently bought.  I didn't suggest for him to do that, but it was good to see him expressing himself artistically in the same way people did hundreds of years ago. Here is a picture of the song book copy that we saw.  It is small, each heart about the size of one's hands.  It was amazing to see the detail of the pictures and the small writing.

The kids held themselves together through the concert and talk of the history, music, and culture that influenced the music. Ms. D did almost laugh in an inappropriate time because her brother almost dropped his sketchbook, but she stifled the laugh and immediately fell asleep.  I was so proud of her for keeping the laughing in check.  Normally, it is uncontrollable.  I don't know how much Ms. D got out of it, but it seemed her friend and Mr. I liked it more than they anticipated.  Eric Redlinger and Sylvia Rhyne were awesome musicians, and were also able to communicate their passion for late Medieval music.  They showed pictures of places they went to sing and research, they talked about the similarities and differences between our culture and the culture of the 15th century in a way that the kids could understand.  Court life was a bit like high school.  There was gossip and slander. People sang about loving someone that they couldn't marry.  People are people. They even had two types of music back then, one spoken, one sung.  I asked the kids on the way home if they could think of music today that is poetry spoken, not sung.  They all said, "Rap!" I tried to picture a troubadour in 15th century clothing rapping, but it might not have been as strange as I think.

At the end, Mr. I asked if he could someday get a lute like the one the man played. I told him that we should go down and ask since we all were invited to speak to the musicians.  He chickened out, but I drug the kids down to the front anyway.  Eric talked about how his lute was specially made and couldn't be bought at a store, and let Mr. I hold it.  Mr. I said it was very light.  I didn't get a picture of him holding it because I wasn't fast enough with my phone, but I'm sure he'll remember it for a long time.
The light wasn't the best for good pictures, but here is a video of Asteria performing in a lady's bedroom of a duke's 15th century castle in France, probably in one of the rooms that the music was originally played.

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