Blog/News

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19/16/17

Liceo Rural Coopesilencio

El Silencio, Costa Rica

Liceo rural Coop Silencio


Our first program in Latin America has come to a close today with the presentation of 'Love Is' at the local school - Liceo Rural Coopesilencio.

6 km’s inland from the highway between Quepos and Dominical is the cozy hamlet of El Silencio (The Silence). Avacados and mangoes fall freely from the trees. Parrots and toucans share the trees with vultures and monkeys. The story of the Cooperative here is a short and worthwhile read:

http://coopesilencio.blogspot.com/p/about-el-silencio.html


Silencio class shot


As part of our Songlish Program, the students chose a topic, wrote the lyrics and sang in English. Not much English is spoken here so it’s a challenge for the students to retain what they have learned. 'Love Is’ was a chance to do something totally different. Straight A’s to everyone. 

With humidity hovering around 85%, and the temperature around 30 C, we eventually took it outside to the multi-use area. Thank you Jonathon for your translation skills and for taking us into your English class. 

Liceo outdoor class



Thank you Joseph Gilland for your efforts on camera, the animations from your student’s films, and of course for making this project a reality. We all wish you and yours the best of everything here in the land of Pura Vida.


02/04/2016

Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School

Mandalay, Myanmar

6 years ago we ran two programs at Phaung Daw Oo School in Mandalay.

One young man in particular caught my attention. Toon Toon Win was (and still is) in a wheel chair due to a deformity with his feet from birth. His passion is guitar. He showed me his guitar. It had been played so much the wood on the fret board had worn out, leaving grooves where the wood had once been (photos further down the blog). When I left the school I gave him the new guitar we had just bought for the charity. He had earned it. It was a good investment.

Walking into his room this year unannounced was a jaw opener for him. He was quick to show me a video of one  of his own songs that he had cleverly crafted by using his phone to record audio and then taking Hollywood movie clipsfrom DVD's. I was impressed. He had also become the school’s guitar teacher and had just had a graduation class where 20 of his students received some sort of accreditation.

He was writing songs, and I would find out that other kids in the school were as well. Night after night I met more students strumming away on balconies and stairwells; students that he had taught. Many of them asked me if I could record their music they had written. The seeds had truly sprouted at Phaung Daw Oo.

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 Teaching

Toon Toon Win has adopted a stage name for himself - ‘TUNE’. 

I decided the first project would be to record the song he had made a music video for and replace the Hollywood images with real ones of him. ‘I’m Ready’ is the final product. We are working on getting his first recording on the radio at Mandalay FM.

I realized the next step for ‘TUNE’ was to be able to record his own songs. Unfortunately his 5 year old laptop was not working very well so I put out a call to everyone I knew and two people came up with almost enough money for a new desktop that he could record on. Our charity chipped in the balance, donated one of our microphones and we are looking for one more piece of gear he needs to be able to take that next step. When I return next month I hope to have that piece of gear in hand. Please help if you are interested in this opportunity. We need a few hundred dollars.

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The new desktop



Next on the agenda was to do another project with the kids at Golden House. I gave them the opportunity to use our 'Original’ program and asked them what they wanted to write a song about. They all agreed that the subject would be the school.

They gave themselves a name; 'Golden Music’, and wrote the lyrics. Before we could begin my computer graphics card went down so we were unable to record and edit audio and video. This was a first for us out in the field. Computer techs were saying it was the mother board. The kiss of death for a computer; especially in Myanmar where there are no good techs.

I wrote to a past donor in Canada who writes and produces music – Michael Behm from Premier Publishing. He sent me a great track called Good Day that was already professionally mixed. We found a recording studio nearby that charges $50 for a song. It’s always a delight to take kids into a real studio for vocal tracks. This was one of those rare opportunities.

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 Mary

But how to make a video with no computer?  I walked out of my fourth floor room one day with the intention of finding the answer. Instead of going all the way down the stairwell as I usually do, I turned left onto the third floor. Immediately I saw a sign on the door of the room that is directly below mine that said ‘Dhamma Pictures’. Turns out a Swiss man who has been living there off and on for twenty years was the unofficial school videographer and had made a handful of short movies and dance videos. I knocked on the door and when he heard my situation he agreed right away to let me use the cameras, himself and edit on his computer. I had my own cameraman and and edit suite right below me the whole time. What are the odds? 100%. Thanks Dhamma.

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 Out shooting a dance scene

So Music Seeds International did it’s first project without it’s own computer. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it. ‘Good Day’ 


A huge thank you to Mary for helping me in the classroom translating, as well as with everything else I needed.

Good luck on your adventure in America.  I hope you make it to see Mr.J.B. 

Chris Aadna for Go Pros and camera work in the studio.

Monica for always finding me what I needed and Mg Thit Oo for finding us a studio and getting us there on the day.

Anyone I have forgotten please forgive my sun baked brain.

See you in May.

12/02/2016

BAAN DADA CHILDREN’S HOME

SANGKHLABURI THAILAND

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Back to the Border

Six years ago I visited Baan Dada Children’s Home where a  young group of teens had a band called the Lazy Monkeys. They were performing around the area but had never written a song of their own. We changed all that with the song ‘We are Family’. A few of the young men are now attending university so the band has taken on a new look with two of the original members remaining.  Kamal and Bomee sat down to write a song together for the first time and when I asked them to choose a topic they said “hope”. Watching them write together, they seemed like a perfect pair with one doing lyrics and the other coming up with melodies for a common chord progression I showed them. We invited some of the girls from the home to sing on the song as well.

Baan Dada is a creation by the Ananda Marga group.

http://www.anandamarga.org/

Baan Dada accepts volunteers but the need is mostly for people with skill sets like permaculture, electrical,  mechanical, education, volunteer coordination etc. Contact them through the website below.

http://baandada.org/

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21/03/15

Music Seeds International makes the Complex list of 'Ten International Music Non-Profits making a Difference Globally'.

http://www.complex.com/music/2014/09/10-international-music-nonprofits-making-a-difference/music-seeds-international

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28/02/2015

Bali, Indonesia

Back to the Valley of the Volcanoes

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Recording ‘Scale Up Nutrition’ at Cegi School-East Bali

We’re back between the volcanoes. This year MSI is employing the AIM-Awareness In Music program to educate pregnant mothers and students about health and nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood. 

Scale Up Nutrition

What can I add to what was written last year in regards to the work we do here but more photos and a huge hug and thank you to the amazing team that assembled for this past project with the Health Unit at East Bali Poverty Project. I have never worked in an office where people are so happy and playful. Special thanks to Ardika on camera, Meti for helping the kids perform so well, and Sinta for pulling everything together for the shoots. Of course there were many more people involved and I love you all for being so quick to learn how to become a video crew. Your writing and singing helped guide our students to their best performance ever.

It is hoped that this video will go national to health clinics all over Indonesia through partnerships with S.U.N. (Scale Up Nutrition) Indonesia. We wish the East Bali Poverty Project the best with this intention and hope they are inspried to do more of these while we focus our intentions now to South America, Canada, and wherever spirit and funding guides us. 

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Salamat Jalan everyone.


19/4/2014

Bali, Indonesia

Between the Volcanoes

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Mt Abang, western slope from Lake Batur crater 1998

In 1998 I had no way of knowing that 16 years later I would be writing songs in Indonesian with 32 children across this volcanic crater lake on the other slope of this mountain.These two photos are taken approximately 8 km from each other.

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Mt Abang eastern slope from Darmaji school 2014




'Saya Senang Bernyanyi' - (I am Happy Singing)



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Making music in our 'studio'.


Sixteen years ago a British resident of Bali discovered a region of East Bali that was anything but the paradise we visualize when we think of the island of the Gods. Inbetween two volcanoes he discovered a place that would change his and many others lives for years to come. 


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Mount Agung


East Bali Poverty Project - (link)

The East Bali Poverty Project (EBPP) is a non-profit organisation established in 1998 by a British resident of Bali after an appeal for help by an isolated 7,200Ha mountain village, forgotten by time and progress. Participatory community surveys in 1998 with 1,056 of the 3,000 families in the 19 sub-villages revealed thousands of people living in abject poverty without water, sanitation, roads, schools, health facilities and electricity. Illiteracy was approaching 100%. Malnutrition and iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) were endemic – iodine being the essential nutrient for healthy child births, brain and body development.


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Practice makes perfect


Through chance meetings, good will, and providence I found myself on an airplane headed for Bali last month. I have to say this has been one of the most interesting projects to date. There are six schools in the Karangasem region and they are quite remote. In an effort to give everyone from even the furthest schools a chance to participate, EBPP transported students daily to one (remote) central location. With roads as intense as these, this was a special effort to be sure.


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The roads are sometimes sand, sometimes dirt, sometimes rock, sometimes water, and sometimes concrete.



We chose to take two groups of 16 kids each and produce two videos/songs. As usual the kids were asked to choose a topic, name their band and song and then write their own lyrics in the language of their choice. Simple acousitc guitar chord patterns along with computer generated beats and an acousitc bass were employed to create the music tracks.

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Cegi school


Armed with a translator, music teacher and a guitar player/percussionist we were well equipped to help the students create. Being this remote meant no real recording studio but once again my mobile recording gear sufficed. It's quite something to have electricity up at the schools.


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Recording at Cegi school


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'The Volcano'


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DMJ Band

Working in the Karangasem office each day was a pleasure due to the attitude of the staff and of course all the Bali copi you can drink. Special thanks to Maade, Eka and Eddy for being there with me everyday in class. I couldn't have done this without your help. Komang you are amazing and David, I stand in awe of your work. I wish everyone continued success in this massive operation to bring these forgotten people basic needs. Sixteen years - congratulations everyone on what you have done in Karangasem East Bali. I hope someday we meet again.

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David Booth (founder EBPP), Ross Green (MSI), Komang (the #1 man in the field)


 

Why I love working in SE Asia

Pelangi School Ubud

I was on my way to an open mic at a local eatery/bar in Ubud. I stopped at a coffee shop to rev up on some of that incredibly potent bali copi for the show. I sat outside where there were two benches and pulled out my guitar to rehearse a brand new original song. Then I met Emy, a teacher at Pelangi School who had been lying on her bench across from me reading and listening. She wanted to know who I was and what I was doing so I filled her in on the project I had just finished with the EBPP.

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Emy 

She asked me if I would come and play for her kids at the school. 

 A few days later I found Pelangi school, down a long dirt road where all sorts of other buildings were being constructed. After some introductions to some of the other staff we designed a 40 minute plan. We had a great time showing MSI vids of old from all over the world and then started singing the oldies (Old MacDonald, Twinkle Twinkle etc). I brought some of them up to the front to form a mini-band where they played kazoo, strummed my guitar and shook the shakers. We changed the Row your Boat lyrics to Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a SCREAM and on my cue they would all scream. That was the loudest scream I have ever heard. We only got away with it once. I love the way I wound up there. That just doesn't happen in Canada. Thank you Emy for believing in me, inviting me to your school and sending me that photo of your amazing headress.


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News Update

November 2013

Art of Transition Award - Durham Region Canada

Our Oshawa program, Know Your Food - Grow Your Food, has been recognized for the amazing program that it was. Thanks again Carol (The Table in Oshawa) for making this happen and for "being the change". Your restaurant is a blessing for the people of Oshawa. 'Planting Gardens' is a hit over in Durham Ontario.

 This excerpt is from their website:


http://www.artoftransition.ca/recipients-of-the-2013-durham-art-of-transition-creative-awards/


Best story about Durham Region

This award is presented to an individual or group for any creative work inspired by or dedicated to Durham Region. The winner of this award is The Table for the Music Seeds International initiative, accepted by restaurant owner Carol Cavallari.

Music Seeds International works with disadvantaged youth, using music as the tool to educate, heal and empower. Through a variety of programs, children learn about language, creativity, self-expression and important social issues by writing, singing and recording songs and videos. In Durham Region, Carol Cavallari, owner of The Table in Oshawa, teamed up with Ross Green, a singer/songwriter, to share this gift of creating music with local children, while teaching them about the environment. Carol gathered youth from local schools and youth groups to engage them in growing their own food and telling their stories in song. Generous donations ensured the program could run at no cost to school boards or participating families. In total, 14 children participated for three hours every day after school. Ross Green taught them about food derived from seeds, as the children composted, planted, watered and weeded planters behind Carol’s restaurant and front yard. Half of the three-hour sessions were spent in lecture/question mode, while the remaining time was spent transforming what the youth learned into song lyrics. The children voted on and sang their best song lyrics in a video that was posted online. Through Carol’s energy and influence, the program taught the children about food production, recapturing that information in a new way (musically), team work and digital audio production. For more information, visit www.musicseedsinternational.com.



'Bring Back Peace' shines again

Bring Back Peace, (the first song ever written in the MSI program) keeps changing lives. This time at a fundraiser in London Ontario with the Amabile Choir. This is the second choir to cover the song and it gave me shivers of joy to hear these voices singing the first song that we ever wrote. Great job everyone. I hear that over $17,000 was raised on this evening.


www.asongforoursisters.com



Favourite Things - Ella Ray

White Rock B.C., Canada

July 22/2013


Hi everyone. I want you to meet Ella Ray, my heroine. I'd heard Ella Ray's story through Ellen, one of our advisory board members, and finally had a chance to meet her on Skype this spring. Hers is a heart wrenching real life story of a young girl who brings together an army of angels and stuffed animals, igniting the gratitude and compassion of hundreds of people along the way. 

Ella Ray was born with Giant Congenital Nevus, a rare skin disease that can develop into skin cancer and brain complications. Shortly after she was born doctors began a series of skin grafts to remove the affected areas. To date, she has had 22 of these painful procedures. Most of the lower areas on her body have been treated and now doctors are getting ready to address a more pressing issue that is starting to affect her speech and hearing. 

 Listening to Ellen talk about what Ella Ray has been through is moving to say the least. A lifetime of painful surgeries pretty much sums up this girl's journey. When I heard that she had been enjoying the music videos on our website a meeting was arranged. Being overseas at the time, the best we could do was Skype. After meeting her I knew we could do something to make her life a little brighter. The idea was presented to her family and friends, and this July the project was completed.


The day we recorded her vocal track, her father Craig called to tell us how excited she was that she overcame her shyness about singing. It took a week to create the necessary bond of trust through playful interactions. Arriving home she told her dad and her friend that she just had "the best day of her life - ever". Her father recounted many similar tales from her Music Seeds experience, right through to the final day. 

 One of the byproducts of the project is a DVD of the music video that she can play whenever she's in pain, feeling down or just wants to enjoy the experience again. Craig tells us that the DVD is going to be very useful when they return to the hospital this fall. 

The timing of the project coincided with the annual fundraising dance for Ella Ray where she was able to show her music video to everyone as well as sing the song onstage with the band. What a great way to end the greatest project we've ever done. Michelle from O'Hara Lane (seen below) did a wonderful job singing with us on the track and assisting Ella Ray onstage.


Thank you everyone who supported this project directly and to all our 2013 donors.Together your support made it possible to bring the medicine to Ella Ray. She shines the light back at you when you watch the video and for those of us who forget to be grateful for what we have, let her journey remind us. If you want to see more of this work-it needs support.



Planting Gardens-Oshawa Ontario

Know your Food-Grow your Food

May 28th/2013


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Mayor John G Henry of Oshawa receives the first copy of 'The Originals' 'Planting Gardens' DVD.


I'm so pumped after performing with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club Eastview today.

Thank you Carol from The Table in Oshawa and all the volunteers that made this the largest support team ever in an MSI classroom. What a way to start at home.

Thank you Justin, Pink, Rich Fletcher, Stacey Snow, Crowded House Entertainment, the Cavallari family and a long list of others who formed a small army with Carol to bring the program home to Canada.


PLANTING GARDENS



It is my sincere hope that we can do more programs with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. Please stay tuned for more Canadian adventures this summer and fall.

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Signing the Yamaha - an MSI tradition



OH CANADA, Oshawa Ontario

Know your Food-Grow your Food

May 6th/2013


We are pleased to be running the first ever Canadian program for MSI. We are teaching the students about nutrition, where food comes from and how to grow your own among other things. 13 - 90 minute classes topped off with food served at the end of each class-compliments of Carol at The Table.


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Even the police showed up. Constable Scott Dargie (who walks the neighbourhood beat) surprised everyone by walking in and playing an amazing original (I Am Who I Am). Carol was giving the lesson 'What is Food'. A huge team effort with 5 volunteers in the room today. Thank you Simcoe Hall Settlement House and Boys and Girls Club friends.

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This is the start of something big.


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Cambodia-Addendum to Cambo trip

While I was in Seam Reap I was re-united with Don and Van who own the Bliss Villa guesthouse.

http://www.theblissvilla.com/


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Don has been supporting a school 15 minutes outside of Seam Reap and would love to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering or helping in any other way. I took a ride out for a quick visit and can tell you it's a very uplifting experience to work with these kids. Contact me if you want to get in touch or use the Bliss Villa link above. To visit the FB page see the link below.

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https://www.facebook.com/AngkorBuddhistOrganization



Cambodia

Kampongcham/Battambang/Seam Reap

March 12/2013

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On invitation from Duncan Ward, the founder of 'Classroom of Hope' (COH) I was asked to come to Cambodia from India to write and produce a music video for his new charity.

http://classroomofhope.org/

Fist we went north of Phnom Penh to an area called Kampongcham to see schools that KAPE were involved in. 

http://www.kapekh.org/

KAPE and COH are working together to bring schools in Cambodia up to 'Child Friendly Status' - a term coined by the UN that involves a number of components that raise the standards of the schools.

We would leave at six am for schools that were 3 hours away (on really fun roads) to visit them before classes got out for the day. Most schools in Cambodia are only able to give half a day of classes and the school day ended before noon in these locations.

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From there I headed to a city called Battambang to visit more schools and meet Racky, the man who inspired Duncan to change his life. 

Racky runs several schools and we used the main one (at the Child Action Development Centre-CAD) to shoot video and rehearse the lyrics for the music video with the kids there.


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The video and song turned out very well and I even 

managed to find the female voice I had wanted so the song could be a duet. Lisa van Woersem was sitting at a counter beside me in the Gecko Restaurant. I had a piece of pizza left that I couldn't finish so I offered it to her. After a short discussion I gave her my card and she said, "this is what I want to do with my life-work with music and children". She played me some of her original music and I knew she had to come to the school the next day. She left very inspired and sang a track on the song that you have to hear. Special thanks go out to Barry Donlevy for coming out to shoot some of the footage used in this video and the upcoming MSI promotional video.





Classroom of Hope


There are so many schools that need help in Cambodia. I would caution people to be vigilant about where you spend your time and money should you choose to do service there. Please contact me if you need help. I know of several honest and worthy organizations and schools who are doing what they say they do. The positive thing about Cambodia is that a little help goes a long way in the right hands.

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We're currently expanding the Board of Directors and are seeking people with charity fundraising experience who are passionate about education, children and music. Please contact me if you are interested- ross@musicseedsinternational.com

We have been invited to Oshawa Ontario Canada to run the new AIM (Awareness in Music) program by Carol, a lovely lady I met in India who loves the work and is hosting after school classes at her restaurant. We'll be teaching kids about nutrition and growing food at The Table

Please consider a donation to help us make this project happen.

More will be revealed.


Sri Narayani Vidyalaya School

Tirumalaikodi India

Jan.25th/2013


CLEAN INDIA




Green Sakthi is an environmental project spearheaded by Sri Sakthi Amma in the state of Tamil Nadu, southern India. It's one of the many projects here at Peedam that have been set up by Amma. For more info on Sri Narayani Peedam click the link below. 

http://www.narayanipeedam.org/peedam.htm


Part of the Green Sakthi program includes raising awareness at the local school here:

http://www.narayanipeedam.org/vidyanethram.htm


MSI went into the Green Sakthi class to work with the kids in January. I heard a very catchy melody written by Jo Mall and young Shreenidi and wrote more words, music and melodies to complete what is now the second song for Green Sakthi - 'Clean India'. It was really encouraging to hear the kids sing "Plant More Trees' when I got there after an eight month absence. 



Sri Narayani Hospital

Tirumalaikodi India

Nov.26/2012


MSI became a registered Canadian charity this month. 2013 should be an exciting year. Your involvement is appreciated now more than ever and finally we can reward donors with tax receipts for Canada and the USA.

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The lovely and talented Renuka from Singapore is helping take the bite out of the fevers in the children's ward at the hospital here. Tirumalaikodi is experiencing a dengue fever outbreak. Lots of little ones with their Mom's enjoyed her playing every afternoon. Renuka's dream is to work with children in orphanages throughout southern India. We are blessed to have her.

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Whispering Seed Children's Home

Sangkhlaburi Thailand

October 31/2012


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Happy Halloween from Sangkhlaburi Thailand. Fate has me cross this path yet again. Check out the new Songlish video 'Colors'. It's always an honour to work with these kids. They have an exciting future ahead thanks to Jim Connor of Whispering Seed. 

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October 7/2012


Indiegogo donors-THANK YOU!

Although we did not reach our goal this year for Nepal monies raised WILL be used for a program.  Stay tuned. The perks will be the same for those wanting them. The t-shirt won't read 'Nepal' though :)

Here you are in all your caring glory-

Le Ballet Théâtral de Montréal

Ellen Searle and friends

Devi Young

Suzanne Armstrong

Sonia Ribaux

Alison Armstrong

Niki Berg

Peter Graham-Gaudreau

Nathalie LATHAM

Bettina von Gale


Thanks as well to those that wished to remain anonymous…



Canada

June 18th/2012


For the first time in my life someone has written a song for me. Not just someone but a whole bunch of someones. Terry and his students have responded to our first visit together by writing a song called 'Mr. Ross you are the Boss'. Terry took them into a studio and recorded it. Then he had it put on this cool CD that looks like an old 45 rpm vinyl record. You kids are rocking my world. I heard your lyrics and accept your invitation. I just have to work out a few details.

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Click here and listen to 'Mr.Ross you are the Boss'


Holly Elementary School

Surrey Canada

May 24th/2012

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This week Terry Symonds invited me to meet his grade 6 students at Holly Elementary School. The kids had watched 'The Way to Burma' on my website and wanted to know why I do my work and how it all started. My  unscheduled one week stopover in Vancouver turned out to be a perfect opportunity to come visit the kids who had written me a stack of letters recently. Another door was opening. On this day, 60 minutes went by in ten and we co-wrote a verse for a song and talked about MSI and the decision point in my life that has taken me on this journey. At the end of the class the kids had me sit with my eyes closed while they came and put post-it notes on me with messages like 'selflessness, courage, love, and compassion on them. As each student stuck the note on me he or she would say what was written on it.It was my first Canadian classroom experience. I would love to go back and run a program in. The atmosphere was so charged I felt like a ray of light when I left. 


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Whispering Seed Children's Home

Sangklaburi-Thailand

May 17th/2012

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Just before heading back to Canada I decided to bus it up to Sangklaburi from Phuket (17 hours) and squeeze in one more visit with the kids at Whispering Seed. 'Alphabet Food' was born and Songlish has one more arrow in it's quiver. 

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The kids here have been home schooled and all speak fluent English. All but one already knew the alphabet. The point was to teach her the alphabet, have fun making a video and produce more teaching materials for Songlish. Just as the kids in India loved learning 'Hello My Name Is', kids somewhere in the future will love learning the alphabet singing 'Alphabet Food'.

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So far MSI has completed four programs and 6 new videos in 2012. That's a new high. I'm hoping there are more on the way as I head back to Canada for a new adventure I will tell you about when it begins to make sounds.


Thirumalaikodi/India

April 30th/2012


Songlish goes online

Lakita the camera wiz


The ESL/summer camp was a huge success. Some of the other teachers, as well as Principal Ramesh visited the last class and had a great time watching the videos and ESL games. The 11 day camp was yet another totally unique experience. 'Conversation' is all about singing/learning practical English phrases.

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So far this year MSI has produced five songs in two locations with 42 students from three separate groups in three months. While all this was going on ESL games and exercises were happening and the program expanded with the new syllabus being created along the way. 

The students here were requesting to sing along with videos from all the past projects. New Nepal and Hello My Name Is are very popular here and it's a great cultural exchange that connects children from around the world thorough each others songs and videos.

Songlish is a unique ESL program that focuses on teaching kids English through musical activities which include games, lyric writing, sing/recording and video production. Songlish gives organizations and institutions a more creative way to get children thinking for themselves, singing and having fun. 

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Many new people from all over the world saw the program this year. Thanks again Derek Nyberg for sending bass tracks from Thailand via internet to add to the song "Plant More Trees'. Technology continues to amaze me.

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April 23/2012


Due to transport issues the Songlish program has only 5 days left. Today we write the lyrics, tomorrow rehearse them, Wednesday record them, Thursday shoot the video and I'll try to edit it and have it ready for the kids to see/hear on the last class Friday. I''ve never had that kind of timeline before so this should be a hoot.

Here's a journal entry from Friday:

Sometimes in the early morning hours it's nice to leave your door open for some fresh morning air. The trouble is, I keep a counter full of fruit in my room.

I went into the bathroom to wash my coffee cup and when I came out there were two monkeys on my counter feasting away. Well we were all a bit startled. What to do? Asking for the bananas back didn't seem like an option. Getting my camera was the last thing on my mind. Getting the monkeys out before they started in on the mangoes was paramount so-the hissing began. We hissed some pretty hissy hisses and I thought - I wonder if they will jump on me and bite me now (all of this happening within 5 seconds). 

So I got on the bed to give myself the higher position and give them an exit route as well as my meanest tooth-full hiss. They left, only to sit on the wall outside my room eating my bananas. I chased them off the wall and down the hall but soon realized how ridiculous this was as everyone knows a monkey can outrun a Rossy. What was i going to do; take back 5 bananas?


April 5th/2012

It's exam time at school so guess what? I'm taking an Ayurvedic treatment in the backwaters of Kerala for my chronic epicondylitis (tennis elbow). As well as that a 16 day 'conversational english/songwriting' summer camp has to be created. New challenges ahead. A volunteer is most welcome to co-teach at the camp with me. Lets see what the universe provides. Kamala Nivas Guesthouse is a treasure trove of talents.


For our summer camp we'll be using role playing, music/songwriting and video to make the experience positive and fun for all involved.


Principal Ramesh, the students and myself were all pleased with the experience we had in March. Two videos were born for the new ESL program. While writing 'Plant more Trees', we learned a little about ecology and some additional English vocabulary and pronunciation. 'Days of the Week' really sticks in everyones head and the kids are singing it in class so loud that we've been asked to keep it down on more than one occasion.

   

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I want to thank the volunteers who showed up to help in the filming of 'Plant more Trees'. Cameron and David from NYC and Lea and Bettina from Germany. Good luck to you all in your future endeavours. David, I look forward to coffee in Manhattan someday.


David Gaynor
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Cameron
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PS. The guitar with one hundred signatures never made it. Tried the glue but no goo. Went to Chennai and bought a new Yamaha F310. Cheap good and reliable.


March 18th/2012



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Never a dull moment here at Sri Narayani Vidyalaya School Thirumalaikodi. 

They have an AV room here with a projector so the kids don't have to huddle around my 15" laptop. YAY!


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Check out 'Days of the Week', the newest video in a program I'm developing that uses music to teach English. 

The kids really did a great job stepping up to the microphone for the first time in their lives. I'm proud of their efforts and enthusiasm. 


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You can be a part of this too if you like by making a donation or talking to me about coming to take part in or visit a program. It's a whole different way to see the world. You might find that it's the best vacation you've ever had.


I'm sad to see the guitar that fell of the bridge with me in Nepal (see blog way below) has come undone. 

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Maybe with some wood glue and clamps it will play again. At least it made it through one more song and the kids got to sign it. In the meantime I went off to Chennai where a trusty Yamaha F310 was purchased to continue the program with.

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Tomorrow we start work on another song and I welcome Cameron into the classroom to assist me this week. Cameron is preparing to attend La Guardia Arts School in New York City. Best wishes to her in this endeavour.

http://www.laguardiahs.org/



         

Feb 28/2012

Thirumalaikodi is a small village outside Vellore in Tamil Nadu, South India. It is surrounded by mountains and lush, scenic beauty. In Thirumalaikodi, several centuries ago, the Saints and Sages (Devas and Siddhas) performed intense penance for many years to the Universal Mother (The ParaSakthi)! They prayed for Amma to descend on the Earth to protect the entire creation from the afflictions of the Dark Age (Kaliyuga)

(from the website)

http://www.narayanipeedam.org/peedam.htm


OK now my bit...

There is an amazing temple here, a new hospital, a new school, an orphanage, recycling program, tree planting program and many other positive programs Sri Sakthi Narayani (Amma) has manifested in the last ten years with the help of worldwide donors.


More info on the school:

http://www.narayanipeedam.org/vidyanethram.htm


I'm been keeping very active in my time between the 'Burma Seeds' project and this one by preparing new class lessons and on the 23rd of this month I choose 16 students to begin a new branch of MSI. TEFL (teaching English as a Foreign Language) - music/songwriting based English teaching. Trying out the new curriculum is the main goal of this next program. Tomorrow we begin.

I'm happy to report that the South Asia Children's Fund is able to supply U.S. donors with receipts now and MSI will soon have a similar charity that can help Canadian donors while MSI awaits CRA approval. 



Sangkhlaburi/Thailand

January 2012

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The man who I like to call 'Father Theresa' has taken in around twenty children at his centre over the past five years. He has cared for their dying mothers when others would not. He has saved them from atrocious living and working conditions. He has connected them back to family whenever possible. He has done a remarkable job of raising them and building a space of love in the countryside farm setting with the help of volunteers/NGO's from around the world as well as local women. Most of these children are from the Burman tribe and have been sent to this project through Pattanarak, a Thai NGO that works along the border near Three Pagoda Pass. Pattanarak assists the sex workers in the area there. The kids here have been home schooled and I can say they are on or at a higher level of ability than children I have experienced in regular schools in the area. They are living happy lives with brighter futures now. Due to a current process that is underway to improve their lives further, more information on them is purposely minimal on this site and the internet right now. You are welcome to contact me if you want more information.


Each morning when I came down to the main house on the lake, the kids would hear me and bound out of bed to help me cut my fruit for breakfast and give me laugh after laugh as we wrote, recorded and videotaped over the 9 days I was there. In the evening the older girls would cook amazing meals that rivaled anything I have tasted in SE Asia. One is going to publish a cookbook I hope. I want to be her first customer.


I will leave you with an email excerpt I received a few days ago from one of the founders of the centre-a Thai woman - Nao, who is now producing a documentary piece for Thai PBS on the history of the 5 year project:


Hi Ross,


I just want to write to say thank you and say gratitude to your work music seed

I traveled home to bkk last night with smile smile and Listening to the Seed and The way to Burma songs in my head..my face 

It such special things you did for the kids, it's exactly what they need at this time.

In footage your movies just sharing their beauty love .... cute warm... such so much love fun in it. 

Thanks !!!!!! and thanks for shooting for me and giving me footage u did with them all. i all smile and inspire with them all now editing fun weekend.!! 

 

nao


 

Sangkhlaburi/Thailand 

March 2011

Maun maun ross


Before I left Asia in 2011 I went up to see the folks near the Burma border to do an interview with the founder of a project there (names to released at a later date) and get his remarkable story on record for a possible book project in the future. On the last night Maun Maun (mao mao) and I began working on a song together and he was hitting the notes in english right off the bat. If you only knew how far this young man has come. When they picked him up from the temple he had been given only a few months to live. We'll be hearing from Maun Maun on this site before 2012 is out.

My application for NPO and charitable status is moseying towards Ottawa. This reduced rate of velocity has made fundraising a little harder than usual this time so with a little help from a few friends and some personal funds-we keep going. 

To everyone who has been a part of this so far I once again thank you for helping the kids make music. They really do have a blast.

I would like to welcome Suzanne Armstrong and Clayton Achen on to the Board of Directors for MSI. Thank you for your time and interest.



Mandalay/Myanmar (Burma)

Jan.30/2011


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Mission accomplished. Thank you everyone who helped me honor my commitment to Phaung Daw Oo in Mandalay. Even with a 28-day visa we were able to write and record two songs with two separate groups of kids. This meant a larger than usual workload as I agreed to work with two groups simultaneously (a first for me). Being on a very strict timeline and having come so far to work here I felt it was important to make the most of the situation.


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Phaung Daw Oo is an orphanage, hostel, monastery and no-fee non-government school all in one so there are a wide variety of kids here. My goal of working with kids from the Cyclone devastated area of Nargis was realized. I chose to combine Nargis kids with street kids from Mandalay for group one. An assessment on arrival indicated that the kids had been learning English but were not confident speaking it. We focused on confidence building by writing a song together called ‘Hello My Name Is’. Later on in the program the kids were given cameras to go around the school and have some fun with. They shot stills and video and some of the video was used in the making of the final project. This group lives at the school and we had classes on weekends as well by their request. 


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Among the kids living in the Hostel was Thu Thu Wii (Chico). Chico is in a wheelchair and is an exceptional guitar player for a fifteen year-old. He has a five-year-old guitar that he has literally worn out. The first thing we did was change the strings. After seeing what kind of shape the guitar was in, we took the guitar to a local guitar luthier. I found one that replaced four frets and put in a new nut in 24 hours for $4. WOW.

                          

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Groovy guitar

Even with the repairs, the guitar was still in pretty rough shape. Chico had actually worn grooves into the fingerboard of the guitar. The starter guitar given to him by a donor had played its part. It must have been only a few days after getting the guitar repaired that an email came in from Canada informing me that a fellow film technician back in Canada had made a donation. It was a sum that enabled me to leave Chico with something that he had truly earned and will take his playing to the next level. It was an thrill to be able to pass that along. Thank you very much Mr. M.


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New guitar

In addition to this instrument, another was purchased for Atone. Atone got up and played a song in my first class that was brilliant. She had the students singing along with her and I found out later that Chico had taught her to play. They had been sharing his old guitar. 


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I worked with a group of grade nine students as well and after assessing that Justin Bieber was the local hero we set to work on a pop/dance number called ‘High Hopes and Class’. This was my first experience with dance choreography and though it was very basic it was a lot of fun for everyone. They laughed hard at my Jim Carry version of Michael Jackson. 

                           

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I met a lot of great people at Phaung Daw Oo and would like to thank the teachers that helped me choose kids and get started there. The people of Myanmar are as warm as everyone says and I wish them a future that is brighter in all aspects. 


There are photos in the Gallery and of course the videos in the video section as well.

I would like to thank those that feel the program has value and have shown so through the personal donations that made this trip possible. The paper work and legalities are now in my hands to make the program a registered charity in Canada. The biggest block to that right now seems to be my own questioning of the future of the program. To all who helped it come this far I share with you something I heard from a student from Golden House at Phaung Daw Oo as he walked me to the gate to say goodbye - "I will remember you - always".



CANADA


December 16/2010

A big thanks to everyone who is on board for the 2011 program(s). We are running on a very small budget this coming year and are committed to making the most of what we have. Please check back in the spring to see what the kids have created this time. 


November 25th/2010

'Just Dance'  has chosen MSI to be a fundraising recipient for 2011.  I would like to say thank you to Ellen and Abheeru for taking the time to understand what is going on with MSI and for future support when it's so needed. If you like dancing just for dancing sake and are weary of the bar scene check out this scene in Vancouver. http://www.justdance.ca/


October 16/2010

The MSI Nepal DVD's are in and they look great.

I am going to be selling the new DVD's on the set of 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2' as well as any other shows I am working on this fall in Vancouver. 

A very special thank you to Shane at RS Plastic Corp for the lovely display case Ian Gariepy designed and built with his help. http://rsplasticorp.com/

Calgary lawyer Allan Nielson is working on getting MSI registered in Canada now. A name search has been done and everything is a go so far. The process takes time so I don't think i will be able to issue receipts for this years fund raising. 



THAILAND

March 15th/2010

Leaving Moo Baan Dek


Watching the music tracks