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Phillips Middle School Hosts Banda Magda Residency

A celebration of global music has become an annual treat for orchestra and band students at Phillips Middle School (PMS) through residencies with the internationally acclaimed group, Banda Magda. This year’s residency took place at PMS April 10-11, and the collaboration between students and world musicians culminated in an evening concert on April 11.

Orchestra teacher, Ann Daaleman, has received grants from the Public School Foundation and Jelly Foundation, in addition to donations from the School of Rock to support this valuable experience for her students, as well as the jazz band students taught by Ashley Sample. “Meeting musicians from other cultures and seeing the traditional orchestra instruments used in a different genre of music broadens students’ involvement in music and the arts,” said Daaleman. “The teaching that Banda Magda offers includes geographical information, cultural enrichment, appreciation of other cultures and respect for music that often sounds different than we are used to hearing in our culture.”

Banda Magda is a New York based world music group, consisting of musicians from Greece and South America. They have numerous Grammy awards and travel the globe, but Magda Giannikou, the founder of the group, chooses to include an educational component to their ensemble by working with youth orchestras from middle school to college level.

In the fall of 2015, PMS was the lucky beneficiary of the very first educational residency presented by Banda Magda. That year, the group worked with only the eighth grade orchestra in a two day event, expanding to orchestra students in all three grades last year, and this year, students in the Phillips Jazz Band participated, too.

manda bagda at PMS “To be able to work with world class musicians is something generally reserved for students with unlimited resources,” Daaleman said. “By bringing this ensemble to Phillips Middle School for all students, we are giving them an equal chance to have an incredible experience with music that will enrich their lives and their cultural experience. There is a need for global awareness for all students and this musical experience expands their understanding of the world.”

"Banda Magda is an awesome group!" said Helen Katz, cellist in the PMS orchestra. "I had so much fun working with them on a new genre of music, and I especially enjoyed playing the lively Latin American rhythms they taught us."

Daaleman noted the students have gained tremendous knowledge of difficult rhythmic patterns found in South America, African, and Greek music through working with Banda Magda. She said, “They recognize these rhythmic patterns in other music we are learning and have developed a greater sense of pulse as musicians. I believe this experience addresses our equity goals by providing a rich cultural experience to all students, regardless of their economic situation. To know that you get to learn and perform beside Grammy award winners makes our students feel important and worthy.”

On their education webpage, Banda Magda notes, "Our vision for education is to encourage open-mindedness and self-exploration through the study of global musical cultures. Everyone is, by definition, unique. It is that uniqueness that Banda Magda wants students of all ages to embrace, while at the same time raising awareness and understanding of how all humans are connected.”