Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Recipe for a Perfect 7th Grade Music Class


  1. Put stools in a circle before they enter. (Every stool must be identical.)

  1. Wear a new Columbia fleece vest with the tags still on. (Other brands accepted.)

  1. Count on someone commenting on the tag. (They did.)

  1. Ask them to figure out why. (“You’re going to return it.”)

  1. Why? (Multiple theories.)

  1. Model the vest so they guess what my wife and daughter disapproved of. (One size too big.) Vote on how many agree.

  1. Discuss one student’s comment: “You should make up your own mind and not listen to them.”

  1. Follow the thread: “When is it wise to listen to folks with more experience in fashion? When is it time to trust your own judgement?”

  1. Share your difficulty in finding vests at various stores because it’s out of season, even though foggy summer in San Francisco is the perfect season.

  1. Segue into summer across the Bay and everyone at summer camp in 105 degree heat and the counselor promising ice cream if everyone can play one rhythm for five minutes straight without missing a beat.

  1.  Go into the Juba shtick where the campers have to slap mosquitoes without losing the basic beat.

  1.  Go to Plan B for teaching the Juba rhythm to differentiate instruction for those who didn’t succeed with mosquito slapping.

  1. Teach the song. Ask for comments on relation between the patted rhythm and the text. (one in 6/8, the other in 4/4). Try a variation.

  1. Discuss the meaning of the text. (Enslaved folks eating leftovers while the slave masters got the good parts of the food.)

  1.  Segue into the song and game Soup Soup and play so that one by one, students peel off to the xylophones and play the “Soup Soup” response on A.

  1. When all are at the xylophones, transform “Soup Soup” to the C-Jam Blues. (In this case, the A-Jam Blues.)

  1.  With xylos set in pentatonic scale, all solo on C-Jam Blues while teacher plays piano.

  1.  Return to melody and end with Duke’s famous tag and all playing tremelo on G.

  1.  End at the stroke of 9:00 am, the precise end of the 45 minute period.

  1. At the end of the day, go to the other Sports Basement Store and return vest for the correct size.
   21. Take off tag.

That’s how simple the perfect 7th grade music class can be.


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