The Maia Quartet, UI’s string quartet-in-residence, is bringing professional performances to every 5th and 6th grader in the Iowa City school district. In a series of concerts that began in December, the “Democracy in Music – The String Quartet” program focuses on how the string quartet functions as a democracy, without an official leader. The Maia’s program compliments the district-wide early democracy curriculum for this age group.
All Iowa City School District fifth and sixth grade students study early democracies, and the string quartet is an excellent medium to bring this concept to life. Over the past hundred years, the string quartet has evolved into a group where decisions have to be made by consensus. During the course of the program, the Quartet explores many concepts related to democracy, including the following:
1.) How do you start and play together if no one is in charge?
2.) How do you make decisions about how to play that music if without a leader?
3.) Since there is an even number in the group, how do you resolve things when two people want one thing and two people want something else?
4.) What happens in a democracy if people do not care or are not involved?
5.) How has the kind of music written for quartet changed over the past two hundred years to reflect our idea of democracy?
In an interactive and entertaining program, students see first-hand in a very practical and engaging fashion the many challenges and the incredible benefits and possibilities associated with being a democracy.
Once the project is completed in March, the Quartet will have reached nearly 800 students in the Iowa City Community School District.