Tony Vacca Tony Vacca's World Rhythms
Tony Vacca
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Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Sekou Sylla, Tony Vacca & Steve Leicach
What is "cultural diversity" and how do we address it within the educational system? Beyond just identifying the concept of diversity, how do we recognize our differences while building our community? In many ways music is the perfect medium for demonstrating and transcending differences, and formulating a context for communication. In this series of programs, each artist uses their musical skills, their experience as performers and educators, and cultural/ethnic points of reference, to demonstrate the traditional origins, as well as contemporary applications of their music. The resulting confluence of traditions creates new directions in sound and acts as a model of how diversity fuels the fire of change.

World Rhythms offers several educational programs in schools. These include concert assemblies and challenging hands-on workshops, a touring concert ensemble, and a special program that combines both of these formats. Participating musicians come from all over the world with a wide variety of experiences as performers and educators. World Rhythms commitment to diversity and multiculturalism is evident in the music created as well as through the physical and instrumental makeup of the group. The healing and unifying power of this music is the driving force behind all the work we do, and all the programs we offer.


Tony Vacca's World Rhythms programs offer everything from one day visits to five day residencies, complete with evening community concerts involving students and faculty. The groups can vary from solo to quintet, or in the case of the Senegal-America Project, can include an entire troupe from Senegal, West Africa. These programs can be and should be specifically designed to fit the needs of students, faculty, and curriculum.

Typical Applications Could Include:

  • World Music: The concept of playing from more than one musical cultural perspective at once. Looking at and demonstrating combinations of genres, instruments and languages.

  • Math: The complex polyrhythms played involve practical knowledge of math and geometry. Both principles are used to create a chart from which students learn to read and play these patterns.

  • English: Working with and performing poetry or rhythm poetry.

  • Social Studies: Discussing and demonstrating the confluence of cultures at work in America that shape our music and reflect who we are.

  • History: The impact of West African culture on American language, thought and music.

  • Diversity Training and Team Building: These "hands-on" workshops open hearts and minds while breaking down the unnecessary and self-defeating barriers we sometimes place between ourselves... And you get to be funky about it too. (I supply all the instruments from djembes to balafons, djun-djuns to bells, rattles to gongs. We'll use call-and response phrases and basic hand drumming techniques to help you find your way into a world of music and new connections.)
  • TONY VACCA: Solo School Programs

    TONY VACCA: Solo School Programs
    Over the past fifteen years, Tony has developed workshop programs that include master classes and percussion residencies. He also offers in-school presentations that include concerts, a comprehensive variety of "hands-on" workshops for students, and professional development for faculty.

    Tony's solo school programs usually include one or more of the following:

    CONCERT PERFORMANCES:

    Whether in concert at a prestigious World Music festival, or on the stage at your school, Tony's performances tend to be mind-bending, all-out physical spectacles on the nature and power of music. Tony performs from his repertoire of songs, using a world of percussion instruments that include giant West African balafons, talking drums, a hybrid percussion/drum set, and a set of over 20 gongs. There's a lot of audience participation, usually one Spoken Word piece, and performances by workshop groups are often included. Concerts can be from 45 minutes to two hours, but are usually about one hour long.

    EVENING CONCERTS that are open to the public and that include student performance groups are a great way to connect your school with the surrounding community. They take some planning but are always more than worth the effort.

    WORKSHOPS:

    MULTI-CULTI RHYTHM ENSEMBLE (Tony Vacca)
    In this "hands-on" session, Tony will apply over two decades of experience as a drummer/composer, and over a dozen trips to West Africa, to create and teach a percussion composition. He'll use djembe drums, gongs, rattles, an orchestra of tuned bells, and a wide variety of other percussion instruments. Students will learn call-and-response phrases and chants, and then learn several signals in order to play five sections within this composition. These pieces involve combinations of rhythms that connect African, Caribbean and American traditions. This ensemble will be able to perform what they've learned for their peers in a concert setting as part of their preparation. Approximately one hour. All instruments provided.

    RHYTHM WORD DRUM
    Tony demonstrates how he creates and assembles his music and poetry. Then, through a series of activities, students collectively create a group spoken word piece, and collaborate with Tony to shape the musical accompaniment. Students are also encouraged to bring poetry they've written, and to be prepared to not only read it, but to perform it with the group. (This is usually a ninety-minute session.)

    THE SCIENCE OF SOUND
    Here we explore not only the nature of sound and vibration in the creation of music, but also the powerful effects that the sounds we call music have on our bodies and minds. We use giant Paiste gongs to demonstrate vibrations so huge that you can hear, see and feel them, and then we create a percussion ensemble to apply and experience what we've discovered.

    We cover the basics of what we know about sound; from sound waves and the connection of pitch to frequency of vibration; from the speed of sound to the relationship of the amplitude of a sound wave to its perceived volume. It's all focused on sound as a powerful form of energy, and how we use sound to create one of the greatest of all human marvels... music. This is truly an "above-and beyond" kind of experience; one in which the science is as much empirical as it is visceral.

    THE MATH OF RHYTHM
    We are rhythmic creatures on a rhythmic planet in a rhythmic universe. We don't just like rhythm, we are made of it, and live under its influence. I'm talking about forces like the rhythm of one day as we rotate to make the dark and light of day and night... like the rhythm in one year as we circle the sun... or like the rhythm of your favorite song, because it's all just like the rhythms we play on the drum. We're built to experience the physical power of sound, but it takes a mathematical awareness to build sound into rhythm, rhythm into songs, and songs into a powerful experience.

    So in this workshop we start with call-and-response mimicry, and then move into more literal mathematical representations of what makes rhythm so attractive to us. We use diagrams to illustrate the geometry of overlapping rhythms; we use simple symbols and numbers in a graph-paper grid to demonstrate rhythm, syncopation and polyrhythm, and then we apply this by writing out and reading rhythms that we invent. We then weave these into a short composition. The goal is to create an awareness of the clarity and exactness that is required for a rhythm to be effective, and for the listener or the player to comprehend the math at the source of the music.

    Mathematics and music have a common source: they are illustrations of our extraordinary ability to see patterns in the world around us. We use the patterns of our mathematics to predict other unforeseeable patterns, (statistics, astronomy, etc.) and we use patterns to create the rhythm that drives a song, a poem, or a drum solo; all of which inspire and energize us.

    Showing students (especially those who take refuge in listening to and/or playing music) the connection between the math and music gives them a familiar and enjoyable point of reference from which to approach math. For the student that loves music but doesn't do well in math class, this often changes their perspective and their level of proficiency as well.

    TONY'S TAKE:

    "A lifetime career in the realm of World Music and Jazz has taught me the value of having mentors and role models. There were many of them in my life: from my first drum instructor, to the many drummers I've met and worked with around the world, to the more famous names like Don Cherry and Baaba Maal. Their generosity was a lesson to me, and now I've made sure to return the favor by working with young students in a variety of settings; from in-school to after school, to summer camps.and from elementary to high school levels, and especially middle schools."


    "When I do workshops with them, it's always a 'hands-on' experience. The instruments they use in all of these workshops are my concert instruments. I want to affirm to them that what they are doing matters, and the best way to do that is to give them the best tools to work with. So of course it follows that when I perform for them, it's got to be the best I've got. I know they listen to a ton of music, so I want to offer them something that excites them, and that challenges them to listen in a new way. They clearly get that what I am doing is way out of the ordinary, but they just as quickly get that it involves things that are familiar to them as well. When we collaborate, it's a laboratory of ideas, in which we are all teachers and learners. I genuinely dig it, and the students can see and feel that. So of course they bring their best, and it all becomes an upward spiralthat you'd have to see, and hear, and be part of, to fully appreciate."

    "I especially enjoy customizing my skills into a specifically designed set of workshops and concerts that fit your needs and visions. So if you don't see just what you're looking for, let's create it together."


    FEES:

    Full Day: $1200 This provides for up to four sessions of concerts and workshops in any combination. Two additional workshops can be had if Massamba presents his own workshops in a separate space, running simultaneously with Tony's presentations.

    Half Day: $900. Half days are usually only done after a full day at the same location.

    Evening community concerts for schools on the evening of full day presentations are $1000.

    Costs include sound system and all instruments necessary for workshop programs, unless the group has to fly to the location.

    We suggest building a day of activities that fit your specific needs, and getting Tony and faculty involved in the planning. Evening concerts are especially popular; they give the entire community a chance to support and be part of what's going on in the school, and have a great time in the process.

    Feel free to call or contact:
    World Rhythms P.O. Box 1172 Northampton, MA 01061-1172
    phone:(413) 665-1067; www.tonyvacca.com; tonyvacca@comcast.net
    Once we've discussed how to shape the program, we'll have you work with Ms. Jean Butler, who books and arranges our work in schools. Her contact info is: Phone: 978 263-0101; email: Jean@arts-are-essential.org.

    TONY VACCA AND MASSAMBA DIOP

    TONY VACCA AND MASSAMBA DIOP
    School presentations include:

    TONY VACCA and MASSAMBA DIOP: Rhythm Griots

    Rhythm Griots (pronounced gree-oes) translates into English as 'rhythm storytellers,' and rhythm is the common ground shared by Massamba Diop and Tony Vacca. Their music is a living, contemporary link between the traditions of West Africa and America. They blend the fiery Wolof drumming of Senegal's famous tama drummer, Massamba Diop, with the percussion spectacle of Tony Vacca's hard-hitting fusion of Jazz, Spoken Word, and World Music.

    Tony Vacca is an innovative American-born percussionist whose music incorporates giant West African xylophones, an incredible collection of over twenty Paiste gongs, hand-drums, and a unique drum set/percussion unit. The range of his work could be summarized by the fact that he has performed and/or recorded with pop icon Sting, Senegalese Afro-Pop star Baaba Maal, Jazz and World Music legend Don Cherry, and the Senegalese hip-hop troupe called Gokh-bi System.

    Massamba Diop is internationally recognized as one of the all time masters of the tama drum. He is an extraordinary performer, as well as a knowledgeable and generous teacher. He is one of the original members of Baaba Maal's world famous band, and has performed with Peter Gabriel, Herbie Hancock, and Carlos Santana.

    Together their performances are a spectacular display of rhythm and a world of percussion, demonstrating the power of cross-cultural collaboration. They have created flexible, cohesive, and extraordinary presentations by virtue of their generous commitment to the music and to each other. And it shows. In performance or in hands-on workshops, they convey their expertise, their reverence of tradition and innovation, and a profound respect for their audience.

    If you like contrasts, then you'll see that their collaboration incorporates and transcends Black and White, Christian and Muslim, ancient and contemporary, African and American. But most of all these two musicians are friends; you can see it, you can hear it, and you can feel it. Just like their friendship, their music is built upon mutual respect and appreciation. The result is this meeting of two mindful, soulful, world-class performers; two rhythm griots meeting on the common ground of rhythm and storytelling.

    CONCERT PERFORMANCES (Tony Vacca and Massamba Diop)
    Tony Vacca and Massamba Diop perform from their repertoire of songs, using a world of percussion instruments that include talking drums, balafons, drum set, and gongs. There's a lot of audience participation and usually one of the workshop groups performs one song with them. Concerts can be from 45 minutes to two hours, but are usually about one hour long.

    Prices for work in schools are usually as follows:

    Full Day: $1500 This provides for up to four sessions of concerts and workshops in any combination. Two additional workshops can be had if Massamba presents his own workshops in a separate space, running simultaneously with Tony's presentations.

    Half Day: $1000. Half days are usually only done after a full day at the same location.

    Evening community concerts for schools on the evening of full day presentations are also $1000.

    Costs include sound system and all instruments necessary for workshop programs, unless the group has to fly to the location.

    WORKSHOPS with Massamba Diop and Tony Vacca:

    MULTI-CULTI RHYTHM ENSEMBLE (Tony Vacca)
    In this 'hands-on' session, Tony will apply over thirty years of experience as a drummer/composer, and over a dozen trips to West Africa, to create and teach a percussion composition. He'll use djembe drums, gongs, rattles, an orchestra of tuned bells, and a wide variety of other percussion instruments. Students will learn call-and-response phrases and chants, and then learn several signals in order to play five sections within this composition. These pieces involve combinations of rhythms that connect African, Caribbean and American traditions. This ensemble will be able to perform what they've learned for their peers in a concert setting as part of their preparation. Approximately one hour. All instruments provided.

    MASSAMBA DIOP, TAMA DOCTOR (Massamba Diop)
    Massamba hosts an open discussion with students and faculty about life in Senegal, and the importance of the music of the tama drum. He will demonstrate his amazing playing techniques, and discuss the cultural/religious importance and meaning of some of the many rhythms he plays. Approximately one hour.

    RHYTHM WORD DRUM (Tony Vacca)
    Tony demonstrates how he creates and assembles his music and poetry. Then, through a series of activities, students collectively create a group spoken word piece, and collaborate with Tony to shape the musical accompaniment. Students are also encouraged to bring poetry they've written, and to be prepared to not only read it, but to perform it with the group. (This is usually a ninety-minute session.)

    MORE? OK, Tony and Massamba often work with another masterful percussionist, Steve Leicach.
    To the Vacca/Diop duo, Steve Leicach adds world class level congas, shakere, djembe, balafon and tama drum. His energy is a perfect fit, and in performance their connection is nothing short of telepathic.

    Steve Leicach also adds a third set of workshops possibilities, including: Traditional West African hand drumming from beginner to advanced. Steve's special style and profound knowledge make him the perfect compliment and perfect addition to Tony and Massamba.

    Fees for the trio are: $2000 for a full day, and $1500 for a half day.

    Of special interest is our Senegal-America Project, bringing Senegalese and American performers together for concerts and workshops that focus on the common ground and cultural treasures, peoples, and cultures of Senegal and America. Ask for more details. Call Tony at: 413 665-1067

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    World Rhythms: tel/fax 413.665.1067 • email: tonyvacca@comcast.net

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