Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Rob Hanlon - May 23rd, 2010


Reflecting back upon the last four or so months of Racer Sessions, I find myself, because of these weekly meetings and the community that we’re building, approaching music in the most healthy fashion that I ever have. Because we have fostered a non-competitive, learning environment, I’ve been able to see musicians grow an astounding amount right before my very eyes, and I have discovered a depth of enjoyment in music that I thought that I had lost. As this week’s curator, I would like to take a more direct and focused approach to musical growth and personal growth. Thus, this week’s main theme is learning itself.

How do we learn? As we grow older, our forms of learning tend to become more regimented, especially if one goes through a standard four-year college. Rather than spreading learning out gradually over time and allowing for self-discovery, we have an asymptotic curve of learning and forgetting – mildly building up a knowledge base, then consuming as much knowledge as possible before an exam or deadline, then forgetting a lot of that crammed knowledge immediately after said asymptote has passed.

Operation ID recently did a performance and clinic at the Puget Sound Community School, and it was mind-blowing to see a different learning style in action. The young people that we met and played for seemed to be much more fully-formed of individuals than I can claim to have been at their respective ages, and I would claim that it’s because they don’t have a machined cycle of learning – they can do what they want, when the want, most of the time, and are in direct control of their scholastic destinies. It was refreshing, to say the least.

I digress. How are we going to take direct control of our own learning? This week, we are going to learn about our own musical (and by extension, personal) tendencies by playing small games.

I think the only way I learned about the geography of the United States was by playing state tag on the playground of Madrona Elementary School, and I was able to learn about my own creativity by coming up with fake states everywhere around the playground. Hopscotch helps you count. Double dutch teaches you rhythm and synchronization. I know that these are reasonably random examples, but you get the picture.


We will be playing improvisation games that will hopefully directly teach us about ourselves and the way we make music based upon a subset of the following real games (replete with video examples, when available):

Solitaire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jq8lTDpXdqY
Pacman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVH1mCc5EvU
Pong http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPkUvfL8T1I
Flyers up
Foursquare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA3CsIlVIWU
Red light, green light http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG_IcgVb-WM
Rock, paper, scissors http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qep0yBxU7xw
Tag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgvPKPZsc44
Duck, duck, goose http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkZcsEL0afY