Sunday, June 19, 2011

You Should Know, I Was Talking About You Behind Your Back

I sent home my 2nd annual attempt to communicate to chorus parents on Thursday. Here's what I said...

Dear chorus parents,

This afternoon was the annual recognition ceremony. Students get recognized for all sorts of things- leadership in sports, excellence in languages, participation in drama, citizenship in cluster classes. As I watched my 8th grade singers stand up over and over again, though, I couldn't help but think about the fact that while the right students were recognized, perhaps we recognized the wrong things. All the things your children were receiving awards for were just manifestations of their interior qualities that make them such wonderful people: dedication, kindness, caring about others, positive attitudes, commitment, the pursuit of excellence, leadership, and the ability and desire for self-expression.

Some examples of things students did without hope of recognition, but simply because they are wonderful, caring members of their community: This year, chorus students created a school-wide campaign to raise money for UNICEF at Halloween. They gave up lunches to participate in a fundraiser for victims of violence in Darfur. They spent long afternoons practicing for junior district auditions, without promise of getting in, and they gave up the last free days of their middle school career to rehearse for graduation chorus. They helped the students around them deal with angst, anxiety, arguments, and music. They spent evenings mastering tricky fingerings, drumbeats, and piano chords to accompany our singing. They were silent in protest of oppression of gays and lesbians. They were supportive of each other in times of unspeakable tragedy. They were jubilant in song. I learned a lot, because they taught by example.

In a week or two, you'll get your child's report card, and there will be no grade for any of the things I just mentioned. So you can consider this their 'letter' grade. Congratulations on having a child who deserves recognition every day for their capacity for kindness, and thanks for lending them to me for an entire school year.

Have a wonderful summer,
Jaime Alberts

Are your ears burning? Flushed with pride, I hope. Great job, rock stars.
Ms. A

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rachel Jayson Is A Way Better Rapper Than Will Schuester

File under "totally awesome music teachers I know" one Rachel Jayson, orchestra conductor and rapper. Check out the Lexington High School Orchestra's version of Palladio, mashed up with Jedi Mind Trick's song that sampled Palladio. The rapping starts at 2'00.

Mr. L, the gauntlet has been thrown down.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jobs I Didn't Know You Could Aspire To

So, this weekend at Pride there was a singer doing dance music, grooving out, and 3 backup dancers, rockin' behind her. And also this random other girl who was kind of dancing by herself in the corner of the stage. And I started watching her, trying to figure out what her deal was, and then I realized: she was the sign language interpreter. And she was signing while dancing to the music. Well, the signing was part of the dance. It was awesome. I think if I were deaf, I'd still have gotten a terrific sense of the beat and the mood (and, of course, the lyrics) from watching her. Which is a great thing to think about even when performing for a hearing audience. How can you embody the music so that you show it as well as hear it?

Anyway, here's my favorite Internet Sign Language Guy. Watch how he embodies the song, not just the word- he's performing, not just signing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guitarists, Violinists and Cellists, Take Note!

In August there'll be a bluegrass/appalachian/folk music camp in Newtonville. Any 8th grader who focused on guitar, and any string player in orchestra meets their guidelines to attend. Check it out here!

(For more music and drama summer camps, see my webpage.)