Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Kidz Newz #159 – 3rd May 2017

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Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

I had the pleasure of seeing this documentary recently and can’t recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favour and go and see it. This is about music transcending culture, race, creed and politics. As one of the ensemble said, ‘There’s no east or west, it’s just a globe.’  Yo-Yo Ma is to be commended for his selfless act in bringing this ensemble together. They come from all over the world and are not affiliated with any organisation or official orchestra nor do they follow any pre-ordained style. Naturally, the ensemble is continually changing.

Although the documentary is about how the ensemble came to be and the trials and tribulations each member has had to go through to be a part of it, nevertheless, it is the music that transcends it all. It is the music that is the motivator for all of them, for them to put up with the political nonsense and other privations that surround them and to keep playing and inspiring others. They play for the sheer joy of music – for themselves and the audience. And that music doesn’t stop, except for a couple of minutes here and there while they interview someone. And then you launch into another performance somewhere – each one completely different. It is absolutely mesmerising. And, of course, the cello is at the heart of it all.

Being movement oriented, the highlight for me was seeing Yo-Yo Ma playing The Swan by Saint-Saëns while Lil’ Buck interprets the movement. I have never seen anything like it. I don’t suggest you try to get the children in your midst to perform anything like this, but it is extraordinary to see the level you can reach when you can truly feel the music and you move accordingly, in this case like a swan. Check out the link below in the Entertainment section and you’ll get a tiny glimpse of what the whole film was like.

I have watched plenty of films in my time, especially documentaries, and attended lots of orchestral concerts but after seeing this film, I felt like I’d been under a rock all my life. I guess that’s the whole point of the movie.

EYES Conference Perth WA

Just a reminder, especially to those living in Western Australia, that the Early Years in Education Society (EYES) Conference is on this month – 19th and 20th at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Click here for further information and registration form. I will be presenting on music and movement (but not quite  like Lil Buck). If you plan on being there, please drop by my trade table and say hello.

Quotes of the Week

The intersection of culture is where new things emerge. Yo-Yo Ma
The clearest reason for music is that it gives us meaning. Yo-Yo Ma

Art is about opening up to possibility. Possibility links to hope. We all need hope. (quoted in the movie)


What was the most useful thing you learned today? (From PD Armadale PS WA – May 2016)

  • To be reminded of the importance of finger-plays, rhymes, music and instruments.
  • The variety of ways that scarves can be incorporated e.g. 2D shape work.
  • Exciting and different.
  • The power of using scarves. I loved the touching corners, sides etc – fabulous!
  • Music is just as important as movement.
  • To incorporate music and movement wherever you can. 


Yo-Yo Ma and Lil’ Buck Do ‘The Swan’ in Beijing. Enjoy!

Click here

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892 Australia
T: +61 8 9355 4890 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E: info@kidzfizbiz.com

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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