All children learn to speak their own language with relative ease and if the same natural learning process is applied in teaching other skills, these can be acquired as successfully. Suzuki referred to the process as the Mother Tongue Method and to the whole system of pedagogy as Talent Education.
© Wadada Leo Smith
The panels can be in colour or in black and white. Each panel is on an 8-1/2″ by 11″ letter-size sheet of paper and consists of an original image. Sometimes Smith describes these images as forms. Within the images are the symbols that Smith chooses to indicate cycles of sounds, individual or groups of sounds. Whatever colors he has decided upon to illustrate the sonic units determine how each player, in a group setting, will play the music. “But no player knows what the other is doing.” One panel is analogous to one bar in traditional score language. The dynamics of the music might be implied in gestural markings, such as ribbons, squiggles, arrows or single curved shapes or lines. But, on many levels, including notational, sonorous, and as related to how musicians interact with them, every panel represents a complete dynamic, for Smith has created them as ongoing discovery process. (Wadada Leo Smith: A Vital Life Force)
|© Wadada Leo Smith|
The image, the symbols, the colours used will guide the improviser(s) throughout the performance of the piece. But each musician might interpret colours and shapes in a totally different way depending on his or her own background and experience. While such an approach is definitely geared at accomplished jazz improvisers and might sound slightly obscure at times (even though it is still fascinating to listen to Wadada Leo Smith explaining and elaborating on his music notation system), it can be understood as a form of synaesthesiawhereby “stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway” (source: Wikipedia). It also constitutes a fine example of disruptive innovation in the area of music learning and teaching.