The majority of world-music styles/genres are learnt in their home cultures without using notation. The teacher usually conveys all the necessary information either verbally or via demonstration on their instrument. In larger ensembles (such as Rio-style samba or Balinese gamelan gong gede) there is also a fair amount of peer learning when many people are playing the same part. What can we learn from these teaching methods and apply to our own whole-class instrumental lessons?

When our Musical Director, Mike Simpson, was living in Bali he discovered the Balinese are very reflective of their approach to teaching gamelan. His teacher, Tjokorda Raka Suastika of the Ubud Royal Palace stated there are two main methods of teaching music aurally used for teaching gamelan - Meguru Panggul and Meguru Uger-Uger. Meguru means ‘to teach’. A panggul is the name of a gamelan hammer and uger-uger is a little harder to give an exact translation but the definition of both methods are below:

Indonesian gamelan workshop

Indonesian gamelan workshop

Meguru panggul -Teach by following the stick. This method is useful for modelling good technique. However, has limitations in the whole-class setting, as the teacher needs to spend time with each student who may have little concept of how their part relates to the others. 

Meguru uger-uger – The teacher addresses the class as a whole, teaching every pattern or rhythm collectively. This gives the student an overview of how their part fits within the whole ensemble. It is useful within a whole-class setting as it enables the students to swap instruments more easily. However, they could easily lack good instrumental technique if this was the sole pedagogy.

For all genres of world-music workshops our Facilitators use mainly Meguru Uger-Uger in their workshops and use Meguru Panggul to teach specific playing techniques where necessary but always endeavour to address the whole-class so when the students swap instruments, the facilitator doesn’t have to repeat the same technique instructions.

Further details about these two techniques are discussed in Teach & Play Gamelan by Mike Simpson published by Rhinegold Education.

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