The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Tuvan Throat Singing

Wiley Elementary School has, over the years, developed a reputation in our community as a school that truly embraces the arts. I’m not saying that other schools in the community don’t, though. There is a wide appreciation and application of the fine arts in many of our local elementary, middle, and high schools. It is just that my school is definitely part of this group.

This may be why our school was selected as one of the stops of the Alash Ensemble’s U.S. Fall Tour. Alash Ensemble is a group of Tuvan throat singers. At this point, unless you happen to know about this particular style of musical performance and/or you know about this small republic that is a part of the Russian Federation. I will be honest when I say I had no idea who they were or what they did. And even after looking it up online, I still didn’t fully appreciate it. It took hearing them in person to really grasp how amazing this performance style is!

Tuva (also spelled Tyva) is a small republic in the southern reaches of Siberia that borders Mongolia. The people are mostly nomadic cattle herders with ethic roots tying them to Turkic, Mongol, and Samodeic peoples from near the Ural Mountains. Tuvan throat singing is a special style of vocalization that results in multiple harmonic tones caused by controlling the vocal tract. It is definitely a unique style of singing!

The ensemble today comprised just three members. They performed traditional Tuvan songs with their voices and instruments. They also allowed students to ask some questions before performing one last song that involved audience participation. The students were all thoroughly engaged and captivated by this performance! I am appreciative of all those who worked together to make it happen!


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