By Tony Centonze, for The Leaf-Chronicle
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Students at Cumberland Heights Elementary School were treated to a special presentation Friday, an interactive musical journey presented by percussionist Zig Wajler.
Wajler performed two shows using a variety of percussion instruments from around the world to demonstrate African, Latin, Jamaican, Native American and other styles of music. He incorporated educational themes into the presentation and the young audience was completely engaged.
After performing an original medley that allowed him to play every type of music from Country to Hip Hop, Wajler asked questions and then invited students on to the stage to perform with him. The students were each given a rhythm to play on cowbells, congas and other instruments, the result was an ensemble that filled the room with music and irrepressible smiles.
In his home state of California, Wajler studied with Joe Porcaro, patriarch of the famous music family behind the band Toto.
“I moved to Nashville in 1992 and started working as a professional musician.” he said. “I was doing session work and playing in The Animal Band. We dressed up as characters and performed rock music for kids.”
About 20 years ago, Wajler started doing clinics for kids.
“It was fun, and I began asking the teachers, how can I develop something that would serve your school. Thankfully. This just keeps growing. I’ve done shows from Canada to Las Vegas to Miami and back to Nashville, the Fall and Spring are really busy times for me,” he said.
Wajler is an accomplished performer, but also a great teacher, he changes the language of his performance to appeal to students of any age. His audience is totally mesmerized and made to feel comfortable. All the student’s hands would go up to ask or answer questions, and they really wanted to be part of the show.
Cumberland Heights Music Teacher Michael Rose first discovered Wajler about four years ago.
“We partner with the Tennessee Arts Commission,” Rose said. “They provide grant money for artists to come in to the schools and perform. He always goes over really well with students and teachers. Zig brings in a lot of math, and the teachers really go for that, it’s all in our curriculum. An artist who is able to apply what the teachers are doing in the class room, that’s just a win-win.”
Information about Zig and his program can be found at www.handsonwithzig.com.