Intercultural communication is, and has always been, an integral part of Amie Maciszewski’s life. Growing up in rural New Mexico in a Polish immigrant family, she was exposed from infancy to least three cultures and languages.
Because she was bilingual in Polish and English, it was relatively easy for her to acquire a level of proficiency in Spanish and French by the time she was a teenager. This instilled in her not only a deep appreciation of diversity but also a keen awareness of social inequality. Thus, as a youth she began her lifelong quest to grasp the nuances of very different cultures found in their respective expressive traditions. In her nearly four decades of close association with the Indian subcontinent and its people and culture she has acquired fluency in Bengali, proficiency in Hindi, and working knowledge of Urdu.
Amie has chosen the lifelong study of the complex and diverse music culture of the Indian subcontinent because she believes that understanding one culture in depth will facilitate understanding of and appreciation for other cultures.
She seeks to re-present the music and culture of South Asia, in which she has been immersed for more than half of her life, in a manner that is accessible to people of diverse backgrounds, generations, and abilities. She uses her grounding in the music and culture of India as a foundation on which to lead students and community members in the exploration of the rich diversity of music and dance in the world, thus raising people’s awareness and, ultimately, their respect for different types of this ultimate human expression.
Through teaching music lessons and directing ensembles, she facilitates students of Hindustani music in the discovery of this art form’s formidable challenge, transformative quality, and joyous inspiration. She strives to motivate students and nurture their confidence and creativity by providing situations for them to perform together in public contexts. Her belief is that practicing this music and participating in its culture in diaspora will lead students from diverse backgrounds to improve their analytical, problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills, as well as broaden their conception of sound and culture.
Thus, her role is that of a cultural mediator between music makers and performing artists of diverse communities, academia, and the public sector. In other words, she advocates an interdisciplinary approach to the study of musics around the world as a study of intercultural communication.
Dr. Amie, senior disciple of Ustad Aashish Khan and Padmabhushan Girija Devi, with 30+ years performing and teaching experience, offers Hindustani music lessons to learners age 6.5 and up in Dallas and Austin. Private and small group (2-5 students) lessons are available in:
- Sitar – all levels
- Voice – beginner, intermediate
- Esraj – beginner, intermediate
- Hindustani musicianship on various instruments (No Indian music experience necessary, but intermediate skill level or higher required on respective instrument)
Full Session consists of 8 weekly lessons in the Dallas metroplex area. Monthly weekend intensive (two 90-minute lessons) offered in the Austin area. Lesson times available Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and weekends by appointment. We also offer periodic performances and lec-dems by accomplished local artists and esteemed touring artists, as well as multi-day workshops and master classes by distinguished visiting artists. There will be one or two student recitals per year.
Lesson fees and policies are as follows. Take advantage of Winter-Spring 2015 promotional discounts!
- Lessons last 45 min. to one hour for beginners; 1.25-1.5 hours for more advanced students.
- Registration fee: $20/session, waived if you continue for 2 or more sessions.
- 24-hour cancellation required; otherwise, no makeup for missed lesson.
- Lesson fees payable in full at the time of registration
- Register for 8 lessons of any option below in two months and get 20% off the total; for 4 lessons in one month, 10% off; for biweekly lessons (4 lessons in 2 months) 5% off.
- Private: $50/single lesson
- Small group – 2 students: $30 each/single lesson
- Small group – 3 or 4 students – $20 each/single lesson
- Biweekly lessons recommended for adults and intermediate level children and youth only
As a selected artist on the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) Touring Roster, Amie offers a variety of programs for educational and public institutions, as well as diverse community centers. The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) provides grants to help with the costs of bringing in companies and artists from this roster for performances. Nonprofit organizations, schools, colleges, and units of government in Texas and the region may apply for Arts Respond Performance Support with the TCA. Arts Respond Performance Support is the companion grant program that allows performing arts presenters in Texas to apply for a portion of the artistic fees to book Amie and her ensemble for a performance, workshop, and/or residency. This is a quarterly program that can provide a grant to help with these costs. These applications must be submitted in advance of the performance and by the appropriate quarterly deadline. For eligibility and application guidelines and deadlines, please go to http://www.arts.texas.gov/artroster/roster/
Amie’s outreach events raise awareness and appreciation among youth and adults by providing them the opportunity to experience the performing arts of India through participation in the creative process. The programs are described below.
1. Interactive school workshop: Sangeet: The Music of India, featuring Maciszewki on sitar and vocals accompanied by a tabla player. Students are introduced to the basics of North Indian raga (melody) and tala (rhythm) and will be led through vocalization and clapping exercises. The artists will present a performance on sitar, tabla, voice. (One hour. Suitable for all levels, including special ed.)
2. “Raga, Rasa, and Rang: Hindustani Music, Mood, and Color” – We present a slide show of Ragamala Indian miniature paintings and discuss the relationship between various Hindustani music melodic types (raga), moods (rasa), and colors (rang). Amie subsequently performs several of the depicted ragas on sitar and voice, accompanied by a tabla player. (1.5 hours. Suitable for upper elementary, middle, and secondary school, post-secondary and community education.)
3. Residency – Instrumental and vocal classes taught to choir and instrumental music students by Amie with tabla accompaniment and explanation about rhythm. Two weeks, M-F, 1.25 hr./per day with vocal students, 1.25 hr/day with instrumental students. (Note: Instrumental students will learn Indian music on their respective instruments. They will not be required to learn sitar.) Suitable for upper elementary, middle and high school, as well as post-secondary and community education. One week is also possible.)
4. School performance at end of residency featuring Amie (sitar, vocals), accompanied by a tabla player and students. Each group of students who participated in residency will perform a short piece they learned during the residency. Performance is free and open to the public. Included with residency.
Festival – two options (1-1.5 hours, suitable for all levels, including special ed.)
1. Spring Festival of Colors – a presentation of music and dance celebrating India’s Holi (spring and colors festival) featuring Amie with one or two musicians and a dancer. Students will be invited to “play Holi” with colored streamers.
2. Monsoon – a presentation of music and dance celebrating the rainy season in India, considered the most poetic time of year, featuring Amie with one or two musicians and a dancer. The musical selections have the theme of rain/monsoon. The god Krishna is most often the protagonist in literature depicting this season.
3. Festival of Lights (late fall) – a presentation of music and dance celebrating Diwali, India’s fall harvest celebration, featuring Amie with one or two musicians and a dancer. During this festival, it is believed that Lakshmi, the goddess of the home and hearth, comes to bless all the homes (and hearts) in which a light is burning in order that the coming year will bring prosperity. Students will decorate the performance space with candles and strings of colored electric lights.
The workshops will provide opportunities for students and educators to interactively experience the music and dance forms and their creative process, along with relevant cultural information presented appropriately to the age group. The festivals, in addition to the above, will provide contextual application of this information in the re-enactment of cultural events in which music and dance play an important role. Dr. Maciszewski will provide the teachers with a list of terms and facts about the music and its cultural context, which they will go over with the students following the workshops. Teachers will have the option of assigning the students to write short essays (appropriate to their respective grade levels) about their perceptions of the workshop they attended.
The residency will provide students with an intensive, musically innovative experience sustained over two weeks, after which they will perform a piece Maciszewski has taught them in the residency (traditional musical material played on non-traditional instruments—that itself an innovation) at a school concert open to the public, which some of them can be involved in organizing. Evaluation forms can be handed out to the students at the completion of each workshop and residency.
These learning opportunities not only will increase understanding and appreciation of the traditions and raise confidence among school students (some of them from underserved communities) but also will facilitate new kinds of collaborations between educators and performers and provide employment for local performers. Completion of these and other innovative, culturally diverse activities will help schools to secure more funding and attract more talented students.
Providing youth of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities with inspiring, accessible exposure to South Asian culture will facilitate positive understanding and communication between people of diverse communities and those of South Asian descent. The programs outlined above will provide outreach in the schools and help build audiences by introducing the music of India to students and their parents. They will also provide materials to teachers that will importantly augment their multicultural music curricula and, by extension, their appreciation of the art form.
The school residency culminating in a free performance open to the public will positively challenge students to work towards a goal that consists of several aspects. These are 1) performance of a piece of music that is unfamiliar both in terms of content and cultural context; 2) involvement in the promotion of the event to their peers, teachers, and parents in the community; and 3) working under the guidance of the resident artists and school teachers to present contextual information to the audience in the form of a program book and informative emcee-ing during the performance. This is expected to draw an audience from among communities who would be less likely to attend the ticketed concerts. The seasonal festivals will promote this type of cultural activity in an innovative setting—the public schools, thus serving youth, underserved, and special needs populations.