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Indonesian Music, Culture Explored at Potomac

Lower School students recently participated in an educational program with visiting musicians, arranged by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington, DC. The students learned about the angklung, an Indonesian musical instrument made from bamboo, which symbolizes unity and community.

Each angklung instrument produces a single note or chord, so several players must collaborate in order to play melodies. Besides being rooted firmly in tradition, angklung music promotes the values of teamwork and social harmony.

“Angklung represents what it means to come together, as a community, to make a beautiful melody. The instrument, on its own, cannot make a melody; thus, you need togetherness – which is why it is important that we share this lesson with others,” said Aryati Peach, angklung conductor and teacher, who taught the lesson to students in Potomac’s Lower School.

The students learned about how and where the instruments are made, the significance of using bamboo, and the geographical layout of Indonesia and its more than 17,000 islands.

Professor Diah Ayu Maharani, DDS, PhD, Educational and Cultural Attaché at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, attended the program in support of bringing awareness of this instrument and Indonesian culture to Potomac’s students. She explained, “In angklung music, one person represents one note. So, to make music, we need unity, diversity, and even tolerance. Angklung music requires listening to others and playing your role.”  

Potomac music and arts faculty members were also present to learn and engage with the experts. Dr. Donnette Echols, head of the Lower School, reflects, “We value being able to give our students and faculty members a global perspective by introducing and connecting them to various cultures. And without a doubt, music is a terrific way to create those connections. By its very nature, angklung music involves cooperation and community – concepts that we emphasize at Potomac. Today’s lesson was a beautiful example of making connections between cultures and individuals.”

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