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TEDxWarsaw - Richard Berkeley - 3/5/10

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Gosh, that's my name up there! In lights, finally. You know, I've been struggling for years to be a performer and really hit the big time. You'd never guess I was half-Polish, would you? Name like Berkeley. My dad was Polish actually. But the thing is, four of our family were at Grunwald. You've all heard of Grunwald? Yes? The Battle of Grunwald, 1410? Beat the Teutonic Knights... Or nearly. We nearly beat them, didn't we? We didn't quite finish the job. That's terribly Polish, isn't it? Really. (laughter) But, you know, somebody was explaining to me how Poles work -- -- Socially, I mean. You have two groups: You have the family group, the extended family. Cousin Krzysztof wants to build a house, so the whole family comes together and they build cousin Krzysztof a house, and when, you know, cousin Jeremiah wants to have a house, everybody goes and helps that. Now, at the other end, when there's a really heroic thing to do, or utterly futile, but which is going to cost a lot of lives, Poles are really good at that. They're marvellous at it. And they live on it for years and years and years and years... -- You know. The City of Warsaw is advertising itself on one of those great events. What a way to live, really. But what I want to ask you, the thing that really intrigues me, is what happens in the middle. You know, we all need fascism and we all need communism to keep the middle of politics alive. But, you know, Grunwald, the Warsaw Rising, and cousin Krzysztof's house -- there's an awfully big gap inbetween. Now, today we've heard lots of things about people working together, coming tegether, even trusting one-another. Oh my goodness. Trust! But where do we learn to trust? Where do we learn to trust, actually? What? Family? Life? Life. What do you mean by: "life"? Experiences. where do those experiences begin? Oh, that's what I thought I was going to get. Those experiences should begin... playing football! Playing rugby if you play it. Cricket. Playing Music. Drama, theater in schools. Learning the difference between individualism -- "Me! I'm really important! I've got really good ideas!" And the rest of the world going around, thingking: "He's mad. Avoid him." -- and knowing that as a back or a center-forward or something, you have value in the team. In the word "TEAM" there is no "I." "Together Everyone Achieves Most." There is no "I" there. We learn to work together at school. But not in a Polish school! Oh no, no, no, no, no. Because Polish schools are subjective. You know. the way we're taught is very, very important. In Polish schools -- I'm generalizing so forgive me if there's anybody here who has a different idea -- you are taught on the "vomit" method. (vomiting noises) -- goes the teacher or the professor. And what happens at exam time? (vomiting noises) -- comes the vomit back again. (laughter) But the dear old teacher, you know, says: "Oh yes, well you've got the potatoes. Good Polish boy. Some of the peas, not much of the meat. Well, 60 percent. Even if you cheated, which you probably did -- it's part of the culture. But how do we learn that we don't need to cheat? In fact, how do we learn that exams are a complete waste of time if we cheat? How do we learn that exams are not about the amount of vomit you can return but what you do with the vomit when it's in your stomach? The way you think. Ideas. Where do you learn to throw an idea into the arena, and not be afraid of having it pulled around a little bit? Where do you learn to share? Two young men came to me the other day and they said: "Do you know anybody who could invest in our firm?" They've got a little IT firm, they're doing really well. I said: "Well, I know a president of a bank who might see you." I rang him up, he said: "Yes, I'll see them. I'll take them out to lunch." He took them out to lunch. Afterwards he texted me and said: "Great meeting. Thanks so much." I texted him and I said: "Thanks so much foe seeing them." He rang me and said: "But it was very odd. They wouldn't tell me what their idea was." And so I rang them up and I said: "Erm, whats going on? -- We didn't think we could trust him." Well now you can't trust a bank manager today, can you? A bank president, I mean theyre all crooks. But I hardly think he's going to steal their idea. You know, on a subject he doesn't even really understand because he's over 45. (laughter) But let's look at Chopin 2010. We all walked into this building and as we passed under, we would've noticed a big picture of Frederic Chopin, yes? "1810 - 2010." I should say he started a trend, Chopin. He was the first young man of note to leave the country and go west, and not come back. He could've come back, but you won't find that in the Polish history books. They say the Russians wouldn't let him back -- He didn't want to come back, because Paris was a grat place to be. Now. Now. Poland is a country without music. How many of you in here who are Polish had any practical music-making in your school careers after the age of 12? I haven't got my glasses on, so I can't see. There are a few. There are a few. Would this be the reason why there is no music industry in Poland? You know. Really, really... a great implore? Because half of my musicians -- I run a foundation -- half of my musicians can't find work. Oh! And you know they can't find work, because we've just had a thing called... A festival! A Chopin festival, but it could be Beethoven, it could be any other sort of festival. Look around the country, and look and see who is playing in the festivals? Rather a lot of foreigners. Ooh. So you have to buy foreigners in, and then they go away, and they take money with them. Yes? That money could be used for infrastructure. Couldn't it? Roads, that sort of thing-- I don't mean roads. I mean for creating work for Polish musicians. It could be used for training teachers to teach music in school. Because, ladies and gentlemen, music matters. Live music electrifies the brain in a way that nothing else does. Music helps people with all sorts of learning problems. Music gets to those places -- as the beer advert says -- that other things don't reach. It takes us to another level. But making music in school -- and I mean musical theater, singing, dancing, acting, the things that the child inside us really wants to do, the thing that every small child does, story telling, singing to itself, dancing, moving, you know. That is denied out children. And the cost is enormous. Because it is only by being in a team that you learn to trust the people around you, yourself and gain respect. And those three components -- trust, trust, and respect -- are what allows us to share ideas. To grow. To be-- You know, I was doing a leadership training the other day. "The voice as a leadership tool." Stalin was good at it, Churchill was even better, Hitler -- just look throught the history, I'm sure Alexander the Great was good at speaking aswell. Sobieski. Look -- Now, the voice for a leadership tool. I went there and this was the third day of a residential training program. People flying in from all over the world. And I watched the people eating. They kept to their national groups. Indeed, there were three girls from Bulgaria who were sitting at a table for 10 people, and the Russians had 3 places to spare on their table. But they didn't come together. So I started an exercise which was all about touching. You know, invading space. Ooh, ooh. And it didn't go very well. Not at all. It didn't even start actually. And I said: "Now, what's the problem?" (No answer) I said: "Have you actually shaken hands with eachother? Do you actually know who 'each other' is? -- No" -- "Ooh," says I, "I thought you were leaders. Or potential leaders for great multinational--" Well they don't really want leaders, do they? But I mean, you know what I mean. (laughter) I mean leaders fuck up the system. You know. Too many leaders. And so I said: "Go and shake hands." I mean try it now, shake hands with the person next to you. See what happens. Go on, try in. Shake hands. Say, "Hello." Go on, do it! God! Do it! Shake hands! That means you too. And you see there is a little frisson of excitement. "Ahh, what fun. Isn't this marvellous? Oh we're making contact. We're breaking down the barriers." But these physical barriers are mental barriers! Imagine what it's like if just to touch somebody is dangerous. What about putting yourself on the line with an idea? Now, one of the things I did was I put an object in the middle of the room and I said: "When you have an idea of what the object can be, apart from what it is, come and show me." "Well, I don't want to look stupid. Sorry. I'm not doing this, oh no. I'll wait for somebody else." Well then somebody else went and they did it. And they picked it up: "Oh, it could be this." And somebody else went: "Oh, it could be this." Somebody else went: "It could be that." Nobody went: "Oh, look! Upside down it could be something completely different. Or on its side." And then somebody said: "Why are we doing this?" And I said: "Well, if you can't even pick up whatever-it-was and turn it upside down, what are you going to do with a problem?" Huh? Uh? It's always the same-- You know, I was working with an IT-- No, a mobile phone company the other day. And I discovered-- Huge one that's losing, you know, deservedly it's going down in the rankings, losing market share. But they don't care 'cause they've got so much of it. But they will care. (laughter) They will care. And what I discovered was that the research and development department and the marketing department only talk to each other at board level. "We don't talk to them, oh no. -- We don't talk to them. Leave it to the boss." Well, it's fucking stupid, isn't it? Frankly. Excuse my English But I mean, you know, if you have to wait for it to go up to the board and wait for it to come down again. What's the use of that? Now, the Chopin Year. -- Will this work? Right. -- Chopin's bicentenary is a lost opportunity because nothing, apart from a very small amount of money they gave me -- Thanks! -- has been spent on education. A little has been spent on getting Lang Lang from abroad. And getting, you know, a great pianist to come and play for who? Well, probably not you. And probably not your children. And probably not many of your friends. Because you'd have to be rather special to want to go to the philharmonic. You know, short hair, neat, polite, well-spoken, you know, understand what you're listening to, be respectfull, not "boo", not clap in the wrong place, not be moved by the music. Oh, if you clap in the wrong place, Mr.Widz turns around and says: "Don't do that!" (audience member:) Excuse me, but you're partly wrong. (Richard Berkeley:) Yes? (am:) You're wrong, because Lang Lang is going to be in a movie soon. (RB:) My what is wrong? Lang Lang? You were there? You weren't there? No, no? Lang Lang? No, what? (am:) Lang Lang is also playing in a new film for kids,. so they are getting educated in that manner. (RB:) But that's bollocks! That's absolute bollocks. You see that's exactly the point. How can you introduce music to children that don't know anything about music? What is the point of speaking to them in Hindustani, if they only speak Polish? You see, there's a terrible assumption here, and it's an arrogance of the elite which is saying: "Music is good for you. We are speaking down to you. We are giving you Lang Lang on a film. Marvellous of us, terribly nice of us, isn't it? Oh, gosh." (am:continues) (RB:) Right, for kids. Yes. But it's not being used where we need it. It's passive listening. What we need is active music-making. Because it is active-- (applause) It is active-- It is doing. You see, all today we've been listening to people telling us about, you know, actually fairly passive activities. I know playing on the Internet is-- Playing, sorry. -- Working on the Internet is terribly proactive. But it's not really, actually. What's proactive? -- It's smelling somebody else's sweat, you know. It's coming close to them instead of saying: "Oh, you. Don't criticize me or I'll criticize you. All right, you can. Oh, OK." It doesn't happen, does it? You know, you get always bright young people. They're smiling and they're nice and they say: "Oh, yeah, yeah. You were really keen to do this." And then under the surface what you discover is, there is granite resistance. The blame culture. Now, my prognosis is this: unless we address the blame culture now, and allow people to come together, to work, to exchange ideas, at a very early age, when they really need to learn to do it, to learn the value of individuality, as opposed to individualism: "Me," Poland will be a failed state in 15 years' time. And I'll tell you why. At the moment Poland -- despite what the government says -- is living off aid-- A-I-D -- from the European Union. It's not even using the bloody aid. It's not even applying for the money properly. It is not even getting it. We haven't got a road that goes from here to Poznań, For God's sake, You know. What is essential is that we create an environment in schools where children will learn to share ideas, not to speak in parallels. A young man I know came back from 3 years in Oxford. He said, the first that struck him coming back to Poland was that Poles don't discuss. They make statements. The communist-- Thank you. (applause) The communists in Italy talked about converging parallels between them and the Christian democrats. Converging parallels. And in an Italian baroque sort of way, they converged. Poland doesn't have converging parallels. It's beyond the logic of the place-- Thank God, actually, in a sense. But we have to learn to compromise. We have to be able to see that the glass is not just the glass, but it could be an elbow rest. And it's up to you. Well, that's why I'm here. Because I want to make you so angry that you'll go away, and you'll go around to Mrs. Gronkiewicz-Waltz who was very nice about my tie, actually, when I gave her a letter criticizing her policy towards music to which she promised, promised to reply to me the following week, promptly lost the letter. But I wasn't stupid. I took it around to her office and had it stamped in and they lost that one too. (laughter) And I went every 29 days for 4 months until I got a reply, which said nothing. It said nothing. Because, you see, rather -- I'm afraid, young man, rather like your statement we are not turning the glass upside down. We're saying: "Music is good for you because we are academics and we are elite and you down there will have what we give you to listen to. We are not going to liberate your minds. You're going to sit back and think 'Oh, gosh, isn't Chopin wonderful?'" Well, you can only have so much Chopin, believe me. And may I finish with Chopin? Chopin is a model for every young person in Poland. Not because he left. (laughter) But because he did one thing. You may not know this actually. Did you know he never had a piano lesson after the age of 7? And this was fundamental and you must reflect on this, about the way you're taught and the way you learn. Chopin learnt harmony. He learnt to play the violin, but then he found the piano more exciting. So he started writing music. He improvised fantastically. Did you notice that our musicians this morning -- as wonderful as they are, they're great, I work with them a lot -- they can't improvise? This has been taken away from them. They have to have the notes. They are dominated by the written page. Their minds have been (squishing noise). Chopin's wasn't. And what he did was, when he played, he invented fingering. He made his fingers cross over, yes? A teacher, you know, at the academy of music even today would've said: "Oh, you can't do that, rap rap rap." "You must play like Bach taught us to play," who had been dead 70 years, actually, "not crossing over." But if Chopin had known that, we wouldn't have had any of his music. Did you realize that? We wouldn't have any of his music. So yes, he had a great foundation in music, and harmony, and the structure, and the building. But when it came to his imagination, his fantasy, nothing stopped him. And that is what we must give. Not to future generations only but to our children and ourselves. Old dogs, like you, can learn new tricks. Thank you. (applause) (Ralph Talmont:) Where'd he go? (RB:) As moved as I am -- sorry -- as moved as i am by this response, may I just tell you very, very quickly one word, what we're doing. We have a musical theater project. We are going into schools with it. It's about Chopin while he lived in Warsaw until the age of 20. We have been to 7 schools doing workshops so far. Every teacher has said: "This is transforming our children." (audience member:) Where are you doing this? (RB:) All over, Mazowsze and we're doing it everywhere. I mean look at our webpage or speak to me afterwards, I'll tell you where to go. This has to be a nationwide project for 2010. Because otherwise this great anniversary, the great and unique opportunity that it gives us to change Poland, to give it a chance, will be lost. And I'll tell you: Mrs. Penderecka Mr. Dąbrowki and the Mayor, and anybody else who you'd want to talk about, won't give a damn. We have to care. Thank you. (applause)

Video Details

Duration: 20 minutes and 46 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxWarsaw
Director: TEDxWarsaw
Views: 112
Posted by: tedxwarsaw on Mar 15, 2010

Richard Berkeley co-founded Baroque and classical orchestras in Britain, Italy and now Poland. He has created and presented programmes for the BBC, RAI and TVP and worked with some of the leading actors and directors.

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