On June 11th, Seed Artists welcomed Tomeka Reid (cello), Nicole Mitchell (flute) and Mike Reed (drums) for our first concert and children’s workshop at Glenfield Middle School, our performing-arts middle school in Montclair. We’re grateful to have been one of just three East Coast stops for this crackling group–doubly so because it marked our first collaboration with Glenfield and the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation (MNDC); triply so because the trio celebrated 50 years of uncompromising, forward-looking music from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Not your average middle-school fare.
Our first children’s workshop set the tone for what is to come: top-flight musicians and music educators inspiring creativity, curiosity and self-confidence in children of all musical abilities, from novice to virtuoso-in-the-making. This intro to the adventurous world of creative music had the kids on seat’s edge, digging not just the wild sounds–You can do that?–but the opportunity to hang out onstage with the group and explore the instruments.
Just as rewarding as seeing those creative cogs turning in the kids: the reactions of adults to music that most of them didn’t know existed–not creative music or the AACM, or the sounds of a cello played with a pencil wedged into the bridge. Music that took unexpected corners, was by turns startling and sublime and humorous, one pleasant surprise after another. The takeaway, as one concreting parent put it: “I’d just never heard anything like it before. It was amazing not just to hear it, but to see it being played…to see them interacting. We need more of this.”
This wasn’t preaching to the choir, it was conversion. That’s one goal of every Seed Artists production: satisfy creative-music fans yes, but also make the music accessible to a broader audience, welcome people to experience something new. Open ears and minds, advance and preserve the music.
Glenfield has done much over the years to inspire its students through the arts. It’s even the subject of two fine short documentaries. We hope to build on that legacy, and to bring more diverse music and arts to the Montclair public schools. Stay tuned.