Ex-BI teacher's Afghan songbook is resurrected | Letters | Nov. 20
November 20, 2009 · 10:36 AM
People in this area who read Greg Mortenson’s inspiring book about building schools in Central Asia will be interested in knowing more about a project in Afghanistan headed up by a former Bainbridge Island resident.
Louise (Soules) Pascale lived on Bainbridge Island from 1980-89. During that time she was actively involved in the music community and often substituted for the music teachers on Bainbridge. She worked as an artist-in-resident in many schools in the greater Seattle area, providing music programs based primarily on traditional music.
About seven years ago, Louise discovered her old book of Afghan children’s songs that she transcribed while in the U.S. Peace Corps in Kabul in the late 1960s. In Afghanistan these songs were intentionally eradicated from the culture by war and the oppressive rule of the Taliban.
Fearing the songs might be lost forever, she decided to undertake the Afghan Children’s Songbook Project and return them to the children there.
After several years of hard work, fundraising and collaborating with an Afghan printer and an Afghan musician, over 14,000 copies of the songbook and an accompanying CD, with all the songs sung by Afghan children, are now in hundreds of elementary schools and orphanages across Afghanistan.
For the past two months, Louise, an associate professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., has been spending her sabbatical by returning to Afghanistan after 40 years.
She is currently visiting schools, distributing books, evaluating the project and determining the next steps.
The songbook, she discovered, is not only being valued as something that reconnects children to their musical culture, but also as a reading text, something sorely lacking in the schools.
If you would like to read her blog and see photos, go to: http://www.afghantrip09.blogspot.com.
Regina Spoor, retired BI elementary school music teacher