This week at school, a children’s author came to visit our campus to talk about one of his
books. He also happened to be a musician, and he brought his ukulele.
So already this story has a pretty eclectic bunch of stuff going on – children’s author, ukulele-ist and all. But there’s more.
Being the cool music teacher with a room next door to the library, and hearing there was a possibility of music going on, and hearing this author had a reputation for being cool, I decided to drop in on the library/author/book thing and bring some sort of instrument to jam along with the guy. But what to bring? The piano? Too big. My guitar? Too conventional. Then my eyes happened upon it – the djembe, brought all the way back from Uganda a few months ago.
I had no idea how a djembe from Uganda and a ukulele (presumably from Hawaii) would work together, but the moment seemed like a musical miracle just waiting to happen. As I walked into the library carrying my cool djembe, the cool author with the ukulele had already started talking to the kids. But he gave me kind of a half-nod; that thing where you don’t do the downward part of the nod, just the kind of raised head and back again. It’s the universal sign among musicians which means, “I have noticed you’ve brought your instrument, and I am, in fact, looking forward to a spontaneous jam with you soon.” It’s amazing how much can be communicated in just a half-nod, but I’ve been through this before and I knew what he meant. I half-nodded back and sat down. When it was time for the song (an updated version of the song “B-I-N-G-O” with new lyrics, what could have been an elementary music yawnfest was transformed into a world music incredible moment. Who knew? Apparently, the Ugandans and the Hawaiians have some sort of mysterious musical relationship.
A moment like this needs to be captured in a song of course, and I’ve begun working on it. I’m using the song from the musical “Oklahoma” (bringing in another foreign culture), entitled “The Farmer & the Cowman.” “Oh Ugandans and Hawaiians should be friends… Oh Ugandans and Hawaiians should be friends…”
That’s all I’ve got so far. I’ll let you know how it develops. I welcome any input you might have.