The bonang, kendhang 2, and ciblon studies I did with Pak Wakidi were the greatest musical privilege I’ve ever had. He was extremely patient, always encouraging no matter how how slow a learner I was. What I also came to appreciate, when I played what he had taught me before other Javanese musicians, was that even with beginning students, he left in enough of the complexity and beauty to produce aesthetically pleasing results.
As an American who has spent much of her life exploring the intricacies of both Javanese gamelan and wayang kulit, Kitsie serves as an effective bridge between very different cultures. Her simultaneous translations of wayang are extraordinarily informative and engaging, and her practical explanations of karawitan, informed by a “Western” mindset for those of us without her level of exposure to the way Javanese conceptualize music, have been invaluable to my understanding and appreciation of gamelan music.
by Carol Walker
Director of Gamelan of the Molten Blossom
I had the chance to attend an introduction to gamelan workshop in Jakarta in March 2022 under the guidance of Kitsie and Pak Wakidi. I was a total novice ; yet after 10 hours, I was blown away on the results I could produce on the various instruments. Kitsie is a true pedagogue : she is able to transmit her passion with clear instructions, while providing at the same time the overall cultural context of gamelan music. She makes it so simple, without compromising on the quality of what should be heard. The constantly watchful eyes and ears of Pak Wakidi helped me to correct my mistakes, all with lots of good humour and laughter. I am ready to do this again any time. Cecile Collineau
Two years ago, I spent five weeks pursuing an independent course of study at GRIYA SENI EKALAYA in Klodran. It was a positive experience, and I recommend it to others without reservation or hesitation. Why? First, because of the resources Pak Wakidi and Dr. Emerson have at their disposal. Some of these are material, such as the impressive set of instruments at their residence. Their personal contacts throughout Solo are another valuable resource. Not only are they closely connected with local musicians, but they also know how to help visitors navigate housing and food. Finally, they bring an outstanding combination of knowledge and skills to their instruction. Dr. Emerson has a profound knowledge of wayang, and Pak Wakidi brings both a lifetime of experience and an incredible ear to his teaching.
I also recommend study at GRIYA SENI EKALAYA because of the opportunities available to students. Pak Wakidi and Dr. Emerson regularly organize house concerts at their residence. They also expose students to wayang (kulit and orang) and dance performances in Solo.
Through their resources and knowledge, Dr. Emerson and Pak Wakidi create meaningful and productive experiences for their students. Learners at all levels can benefit from instruction at GRIYA SENI EKALAYA.
John Krebs, Willis H. Holmes Distinguished Professor of Music
Conway, Arkansas, USA
Klodran is a beautiful retreat not far from Solo. In the Griya Seni Ekalaya the gamelan instruments are all set up amidst a lush tropical garden. Staying on site is a delight with a beautiful bedroom and an exotic outdoor bathroom area.
Mbak Kitsie and Pak Wakidi are the perfect hosts and are teachers of the highest standards of excellence in the fields of gamelan instruments and Pesindhen and Gerong. They are patient, enthusiastic and provide music and books of material. In group lessons extra players and singers are invited to extend one’s experience. Mbak Kitsie and Pak Wakidi have been teaching gamelan for decades and Pak Wakidi is the most revered master of gamelan music in Solo and is the foremost Kendhang player for Javanese karawitan in the world at present. Both are outstanding players and teachers. One on one teaching is excellent as is group tuition.
There is plenty of time to practice on your own in the gamelan area. There are opportunities for performances at the weekly Klenengan and opportunities to attend Wayang Kulit in the surrounding area. Griya Seni Ekalaya is a community centre with many activities at night. It is a wonderful cultural retreat and a great way to enrich and expand your playing and involvement in Javanese Gamelan music.
President Melbourne Community Gamelan