Last year in California I worked for an English teaching company in China called Dada ABC. It was one of the stranger jobs I’ve had.
We would talk over a video chat platform with a textbook and paint capabilities. I saw into a house in China and they saw an improvised set that I made, like a low-budget public access kid’s show.
I sang songs with a little banjo ukulele. Sometimes a kid would learn a song like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and I would sing harmony with them across the Pacific Ocean.
«Use lots of energy to keep them engaged,» they say. «Always smile.» I took it seriously. I went at full Looney Tunes speed. I made kids laugh and sometimes wonder if I was crazy.
Sometimes I wondered if I was crazy myself. It’s easy to feel crazy when you wake up at 3 AM, drink a cup of coffee and jump into «I’ve been working on the railroad» bouncing around with a huge grin on your face.
That’s right, because of the time difference between California and Beijing, I had to work from three to six AM. I would finish as the sun came up and lie down on a futon beside my little lonely classroom to write my evaluations.
While I wrote my evaluations I would listen to some relaxing music on Youtube. One of my favorite albums to listen to was Green by Hiroshi Yoshimura.
Sounds of birds and water mix with gentle synthesizers in a way that makes me feel like I’m walking through a forest by a lake. The music is minimalist, with just enough variation to mesmerize, like watching waves come in.
In the liner notes to one of his albums called «Wave Notation,» Satoshi Ishikawa writes: «the ‘object sound music is not the music of self-expression or a completed work of art, rather it is music which by overlapping and shifting changes the character and the meaning of space, things, and people.» 1
I left that just how it’s written on the website, with the stray apostrophe and missing «of». It seems to fit somehow.