PASADENA — Recently, the Administration at St. Gregory Hovsepian School saw an opportunity to archive the sounds that students create as they play during morning recess. The principal, Mr. Shahé Mankerian, who is an avid listener of KCRW (89.9 FM), the flagship of National Public Radio (NPR), heard about the rare opportunity to record eclectic sounds of Los Angeles. Under the subheading of SoundsLA, the newscasters on NPR’s Morning Edition encouraged listeners to submit sounds they hear in their daily lives with the following tagline: It’s your city. What do you hear? Mr. Mankerian thought, “No one should bypass this whimsical opportunity.”
Primarily, SoundsLA is an ongoing series of audio postcards that start with a sound found in and around Los Angeles. The 15-30 seconds of sound then leads to a story behind the recording and about a particular person, place or thing. By using a mobile device to record, Mr. Mankerian submitted one of his favorite sounds, the “noise” of Armenian children playing during morning recess. He accompanied his submission with the following complementary story:
Multilingual Children at Recess: Every school recess sounds magically the same. Almost. Cacophony of noises produced by children, in various pitches, like a vocal ensemble tuning before a concert. I hear this magical noise every morning, five days a week, for twenty minutes exactly. These children weave sounds in two languages, Armenian and English, like a beautiful bilingual duet, like the mosaic of America, like the unexpected bell that never ends our conversation. Some call the sounds of our school the microcosm; I call it euphoria.
From the Administrative perspective, capturing the sound of our children provides a minimalistic snippet in the world of Armenian schools. The mere 30 seconds of joyous commotion will be preserved like a time capsule in the archives of a prestigious radio station for generations to come. Like the Japanese haiku, sometimes good things come in small packages.
Visit the SoundLA website to experience the sounds of our children and the words of Mr. Mankerian.