Friday, April 11, 2008

After 15 Years - A Bit Of Wee Music I Can Rave About

Something I’ve been waiting for for over 15 years has arrived! But - first - I must back track.

In my recent reflection on my life after King, I forgot to credit the song, “Chinese Proverb” from Sweet Honey In the Rock’s Experience 101 CD. For this, in the most humble, stricken manner apologise to this most wonderful artists. I would have said grovel - but right now they aren’t angry at me. But, I would grovel because this is a CD, I not only hear almost daily, but has become a huge portion of the soundtrack for my life right now. Winston loves it. And it doesn’t make me feel like a crazy person.

Some of the best children’s music can do this to me. Winston and I both appreciate Laurie Berkner. But, she can only be on the roughly 55 to 78 minutes of daily driving we do without me feeling as if careening into the next ditch would solve every small issue in my life. It is exceptionally well-written kid music.

I understand that my life right now is all about living in an age appropriate reality. For this reason, I am grateful to artists who help me preserve some core of my adult self. Sweet Honey In The Rock does this. And for this reason I have to also give a great big thank you for “Still the Same Me.” The tracks entitled “Improv Time” are often my salvation during long drives. I can sing one part. Winston chooses another. And we get to be creative and stimulated artistically and intellectually together! Do I need to repeat myself? Do you understand what a precious gift this is?

I came of age during funk and hip hop. And as much as I love Hippity Hop, from time to time, my itchy adult fingers punch that dreadful radio dial. Before Winston, I learned to just listen to the beat. And even then - it wasn't heart-deep satisfying to the core in the way it used to be before gangsters.

In college, I used to assert that hip-hop could be the most powerful educational tool of the century (last.) I reflected that people use rhyme and chanting to memorise. I insisted that - well-used - hip hop could be a method of conditioning learners to comprehend complex ideas using chant, rhyme and rhythm which would then create long term retention through capitalising on the muscle memory of dance.

My idea has become reality. Let me introduce Songs of Higher Learning! I test drove these CD’s with my 8 year old, public schooled neighbour. Within the first 3 seconds of the intro to “The Bill Of Rights,” he had his hand on the waist of his trousers, his other hand in the air and was weaving back and forth giving the response with his head thrown back. Good enough for me.

Go check them out. And in relation to my recent post about teaching our children to survive police encounters, every Black child in America should have a copy of the US History, Government, Vol. 1 CD. Their website has samples and a full pdf of all lyrics to all songs.

So...

Q - Are they prefect?
A - No.

Q - Are they competent?
A - More than.

Q - Does it cost too much?
A - Does 10 bucks a CD for hard core facts which will be on their standardised tests sound too much for you?

Q - Will I loose my mind with repetitive listening?
A - No - You’ll be relearning a lot and after that - you can just truly listen to the beats.

I feel sorry for my son. He’s getting the full set for his birthday next week. It’s always a balance. Right now, he doesn’t know the difference. But, it won’t be too long before he’s rolling his eyes and sighing. In our house, it always seems to be “Happy Christmas, Easter, Birthday....here are some lovely school supplies. I’m glad he is still young and grateful.

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