Trio Meike Goosmann “The joie de vivre and the inspiration are gifts”
Meike Goosmann is a German jazz saxophonist. Together with the drummer and percussion specialist Christoph Hillmann and the jazz pianist Laia Genc from Cologne she has travelled to Yangon to conduct a 10-day workshop with Burmese musicians from the Gitameit Music Center. The result of their work will be presented to the public in a concert as part of the World Music Festival 2014 at the French Institute.
On goethe.de/myanmar, they tell about the experiences and impressions they have gathered during their cooperation with the Burmese musicians.
All of you are in Myanmar for the first time. What are your impressions about the country and the people?
Meike: I like it here. I think it's exciting, because many things are strange, but at the same time very inviting. Especially the joie de vivre that I believe I feel here, I find very fascinating. The people are so friendly, the way they deal with each other is so uncomplicated and the atmosphere is so alive.
Christoph: I have the feeling that everything that happens is done together. You go shopping together, go to the pagoda together, walk down the street together. There is always a feeling of community, and you feel it as well while playing music in the Gitameit Music Center. We all learn from each other.
The workshop with the musicians happens in cooperation with Gitameit. How do you like the school?
Laia: Gitameit is a great project! It’s a center where anyone who is interested in music can come.
Meike: The Gitameit project means a lot. It fascinates me that classes are free for children and for people who live close by. This is something that I want to take back to Germany as inspiration.
Working with the Burmese musicians is a give and take on an equal footing. A true encounter, that allows us to get to know one another as persons. I am amazed by the Burmese talent here.
Christoph: We are constantly experiencing how unbelievably fast the students are in picking up new things. They absorb all information and apply it incredibly quickly.
What challenges do you encounter when dealing with one another? Are there language hurdles?
Laia: Most speak English, and if not, the Burmese help each other to understand. Also in rehearsals they show each other if they notice that someone hasn’t quite got it yet.
Meike: The musicians are incredibly calm and first of all listen very patiently and wait until you say something. I misinterpret this sometimes, because I do not know if they have understood it, if they think it’s good or not. Communication here is different. I have to interpret and then see if I have interpreted correctly, but this is a great new experience. We ourselves can learn a lot about communication here.
Laia: That is a cultural difference. In Europe we say what we want, that’s what we have learned to do. Here there is no such thing as saying “no”. Here it is not a question of whether you personally want something or not.
What made you want to come to Myanmar?
Meike: I didn’t have to think it over for very long. One thing is certain, I will go home with experiences that have broadened my horizons.
Laia: I had to consider carefully if I would come, because I am heavily involved in another project. In the end, Myanmar won. The opportunity to work very intensively with local musicians fascinated me. It is impressive that this cooperation with Burmese musicians, like the Hsaing Waing Orchestra of Hein Tint, has already been going on for four years. So this is an ongoing exchange between German and Burmese musicians. I think it’s great!
What impressions will you take home with you?
Christoph: I find Burmese folklore very inspiring. I would not have otherwise got involved with Burmese music. It really takes a kind of musical decoding, you have to develop an ear for it.
Meike: The joie de vivre and the mutual inspiration are gifts that I will take home with me! It is unbelievable how far Europe and Myanmar are separated geographically, and how similar ideas and melodies are. Our stay here provides fresh impressions and offers a new perspective on other creative ways to approach our own work.