Wednesday, November 23, 2011

National Teacher's Day

The 24th of November is National Teacher's Day in Turkey. Now I'm going to be is not even a close 2nd to Thanksgiving and being with family, but for a teacher appreciation day, this is turning out to be a great celebration. This evening the parent board of the school(I think) provided a lovely evening for teachers and their families.

Following a delicious meal, we were treated to a great concert of traditional Turkish folk music. I could tell these were talented, professional musicians playing instruments that were both familiar and unfamiliar to me. My favorite were the percussionists. The man playing the bass drum who used an L-shaped paddle on one side and what looked like a conductor's baton on the other. At one point he put the drum strap in his mouth and twirled in circles while beating the drum. I don't know what kept him from getting dizzy and falling off the stage but he was sure a crowd pleaser.

The three other percussionists used different size hand drums. They beat with all of their fingers and the palms of their hands to achieve many different sounds and rhythms. Much of the music is played in different time signatures like 5/4, 7/8 or 10/8. With my Western 4/4 0r 3/4 musical background I have a very difficult time tapping to the beat.

Another instrumentalist included a wood wind player. He had four different sized instruments two of which used double reeds like an oboe. One man played what looked like a lap harp or auto harp and he used four fingers each holding metal picks. He tuned the pegs with a wrench similar to a harp or piano. One man played a balgama (looks like a 4-stringed guitar with a deeper, more rounded body) and one man played an electric violin. The vocalist used his voice in ways that drew lots of applause from the men in the audience. I think he vibrated his voice over 1/2 or 1/4 tones, tones I can't even sing because I'm so used to do re me...

Of final interest to me was the enthusiasm by the audience. The male teachers and staff all sat in the back of the auditorium and danced, cheered, and cat-called for special songs. They were like groupies at a rock concert. Of course, the audience enthusiasm fed the performers who reciprocated by pulling out the stops and putting on a great show. Sweat was pouring through the audience members' shirts and they kept calling for more encores. I've never before seen a group of men dancing and singing and having this much uninhibited alcohol-free fun.

This was a great evening and a great way to temporarily forget that I'm not with my family eating turkey...

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