Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I Got the Homework Blues...

Today was "Jim teaches the blues" day at school.  Of course, Steph was very concerned that I might say or do something to cause her problems.  While I never would, I played along like I might!  ;-)

"What rhymes with 'snit'?  Or, 'rich'?  Maybe: 'luck'?"  Kinda fun to make her sweat.

The goal: guide the kids into writing a song.  The reality: with only 40 minutes, and that includes trying to teach two boys (who don't know how to tune their guitars) a couple chords, get the other kids fired up so they will put some "emotion" into the singing, maybe add a little percussion... oh, and writing the whole damn song!

I knew what I was up against, so... with apologies to Dave Mason (Feelin' Alright), I came up with the hook: "I got the homework blues... it's just bad news."

Another reality: the kids had no idea what we'd be doing... well, except the two guitar playing boys.  I gave Steph the two chords we'd be using, and they were supposed to practice those for two weeks before hand.  Apparently, they had a bad case of the homework blues, because they didn't know how to tune a guitar, much less play one.  "OK, we're going to learn a couple 'fake chords'!  Good luck!"

I had Joan write out the first verse on the white board while I played it, to give them a feel for how the song should sound.  You could see the excitement building on their faces.  Would have been nice for them to know the topic, to be working on some lyrics, but I was ready for it.

We practiced the hook... most of them were actually singing.  I asked, "Who really likes to sing?"  Several hands went up... "Great!  You're the vocalists!"  Looks of terror, mixed with horror.  "Nahhh, we're going to do this together, but I want to hear you belt it out!  No one actually dies of embarrassment!"

"Yabut, what if we have a heart attack?"

"Not much chance of that, so let's sing!"

Second verse: I gave them a line, then had them come up with the next line.  Back and forth.  Joan added guidance, then wrote it on the board.  The singing was quickly getting stronger.  Amazing how fast you can pull something together when you are on a tight schedule.  ;-)

When we had three verses and the hook, it was time to put it all together.  One run-through.  Time to add some percussion, getting the ones who were too shy to "belt it out" something to add.  We had 100% involvement.  Jack Black's School of Rock has nothing on these kids.

Time to put it on video for Steph to put on the school's website.  "One take - let's do this!"

The bell rang shortly after we finished... "That's a wrap!"  The class next door gave us a round of applause.  Walking down the hall afterwards, two girls were singing, "I've got the homework blues..."

There may be hope for this generation.  ;-)

(photos by The Blonde)


On edit: some photos from Steph...

Doing the lyrics...

My lovely assistant writing down the lyrics...

The back-up band...

Time to get out the percussion...

Let's do this...

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