Who Let the Frogs Out? A Postcard from the Newport String Project
I recently discovered that the beloved game of skipping stones across water has a variety of other names in other countries – ducks and drakes (UK), dragonflies (Czech), throwing a sandwich (Finnish) and the Ukrainian name is zapuskaty zhabky which translates to “letting the frogs out”.
What has me thinking about skipping stones, you ask?
As musicians engaged in community residencies, we are constantly experimenting – tweaking traditional concert formats to engage new people, bringing a new game to a classroom of violin students – to build meaningful connections between people. And, that moment of trying something new in pursuit of connection, is a lot like the moment when you let go of the pebble to see how far it will bounce.
Every so often, there’s the magical combination of pebble, technique and environmental conditions – and you realize that the pebbles are bouncing a lot further than you imagined, maybe in ways you hadn’t even noticed or realized. Like when our oldest students are recruiting their friends to come join the Newport String Project. Like when a younger sibling already knows a song because they’ve learnt it from an older brother or sister. Like when you notice a parent absorbed in watching their child’s lesson and marveling at the complexity of skills they’re learning. Like when an audience member finds you after a concert to ask what works by that composer they should listen to next. These moments are energizing, humbling and bring much needed detail to the sweeping Big Picture flow of this work.
-Ealain McMullin, Newport String Project Co-Director