Silence to Symphony Without a Word

Alzar School | 19.03.15

Can you teach without a single word? Can a class be effective without verbal instruction?

Yesterday, the students of Alzar School discovered that it was indeed possible to learn without hearing, or uttering, a single word.

This week, students are living with Chilean families, continuing their normal Alzar School curriculum, and also sitting in on Chilean classes. Beyond scheduled classes, we have also been lucky enough to have Chilean teachers spend their free time giving our students special lessons. For example, the music teacher, Victor, gave an incredible lesson about the power of sound. Victor’s class wasn’t just impactful because of what he said, but because of what he didn’t say.

Entering the classroom in a flourish, Victor began his class without uttering a single syllable. He gave no introduction, no instruction, and no verbal communication of any kind. As soon as he reached his desk, Victor began to hand out an assortment of objects: a wooden box, a tambourine, hand drums, a metal canister. Without instruction he would lock eyes with a student, play a simple rhythm using one of the objects and then hand the makeshift instrument to the student. Smiling, eager, and similarly silent, our students received the instruments and continued the beat Victor demonstrated. Random objects kept becoming instruments and before long, every student was equipped with an instrument. The room swelled with a vivacious symphony.

His non-verbal message was simple: anything can be used as an instrument, everyone has music inside them, and music has the power to transcend cultural barriers of all types.

Victor's Music Class