“But…. I Don’t Wanna: Music Teachers Struggling with Hip-Hop Music Literature in Their Classroom” #HipHopMusicEd

“But…. I Don’t Wanna: Music Teachers Struggling with Hip-Hop Music Literature in Their Classroom”

#HipHopMusicEd

Educators are constantly asked, by students, to play or perform music that is outside of their comfort zone. “…but, I don’t wanna..”  is typically the response. How do you bridge the gap that exist between the teacher’s opinion of what is acceptable and what is acceptable in the eyes of the student? Educators,  we must remember to met our students where they are and embrace some of the elements that they “like” in order to work together to critically analyze and create a full experience for them in our classrooms.

When students give these request for more current or contemporary music in class, listen to them and please remember what music they probably hear at home, on the train (subway) and in the car over the course of their week.  These request are coming from your audience, and my reflect their existence (understanding). It’s a request that should be listened to, and contains a valid message of “I’m interested in what we’re doing, but would love to play something I know and like”. They are inviting us into their space of inquiry, the pre-teen or teenage life. The secret life of teenagers, in which they choose to share or not to share their feelings. Teachers, please…take it where you can get it, and engage in dialogue about the music they are asking you to play in class as part of one of your lessons. To share, is an awesome “in” moment for teachers and students. You can use that request as a way to co-construct a real list of rap and/or hip-hop songs that you both can agree is acceptable for classroom use. Create a rubric, maybe even co-construct this together, and from there that can become something that is applied directly to the rest of the music (literature) that is used in your music classroom.

Co-constructing a space together is actually an aesthetic of hip-hop music and culture. The beauty of the art, that is hip-hop, comes from diverse elements coming together to create something groovy, that lock in well together. To work alongside your students to compose and name the world in which you live-in together is something that Brooks & Brooks  would call, the action constructivism or the space of inquiry, a constructivist space. To make something, to create, is part of what Dewey would say is nature. Expand upon it and take advantage of this opportunity to make something, construct or share with your students. This is a great opportunity to engage in something positive with our students, and to expand the borders of understanding in your classroom space.

Conc

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“The Application of Matisse’s Cut-Outs to Music Education” #HipHopMusicEd

#HipHopMusicEd

“The Application of Matisse’s Cut-Outs to Music Education”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”  -Theodore Roosevelt

Music teachers often cringe at the idea of applying hip-hop music, or pedagogy to their classroom instruction and/or curriculum. I have been thinking long and hard about how do we approach “relevance” and “critical reflection” within the domain of the music classroom. Its a battle of tackling the topic, and really investigating the music, culture and group from which it all sprang from. Authenticity is a dangerous word that people use to give perfection power. If its not authentic then why do it, is often spewed from unaware mouths. The concept of “Authenticity” gives power and privilege to those that are in a position to judge the validity of the performance or product. I always suggest that educators focus more on digesting the actual music and investigating the places in which it inhabits. What are the concepts that are within the music, rather than what we can reduce it to and say embodies it. Lets continue to take the ethnomusicological approach to teaching music that Barbara Lundquist (ethnomusicologist) suggests. A lot of knowledge can come from challenging yourself, as an educator, as well as the students we work with. Teachers learn twice.

Speaking of teachers, I recently took a visit to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) where I saw the Henri Matisse’s “Cut-Outs”, “Cut & Swipe” and Elaine Sturtevant’s “Double Trouble”. I really felt like I was in the midst of a showing of the hip-hop aesthetic at the MoMA, but I soon realized that what I was witnessing was the aesthetic of “DIY” and “Appropriation”. I started at the top (6th floor) and walked down stopping at the various artistic wonders housed in the MoMA. This aesthetic, that Henri Matisse shared in his work, was about simplicity and simply “doing it.”

We as artist, and educators often complicate what art is, and how it should be done. We often make art about mastery, when it is actually about communicating, expressing (emoting), sharing (community) and most importantly honesty. Matisse, was in decline (physical health) when he started to explore with cutting paper, using glue and color paper to fashion the delicious ideas inhabiting his mind’s eye, and spewing forth from his imagination. Why do we think that music and art needs to be mastered before we can allow students to birth wonderful works of art? Did Matisse, who was in the end of his physical prowess need to balance a brush in his feeble hands to create great works of art, and if he could not do that anymore was he no longer a artist, or master? Does it matter?

What I found wonderful about Matisse and the other wonderful pieces of art in the various exhibits in the MoMA is that each reach out to you in a variety of ways and speak their own truths. Hip-Hop does the very same thing. Hip-hop tells its truth(S) simply with its paper, glue and scissors. Cut and paste are the tools of the music, and critically reorganizing  pre-made material are the primary function of the hip-hop culture. Like Matisse, disenfranchised urban youth have been remixing the elements of their existence into new diversity ways since the beginning of society. The unprivileged are typically more interested in reformatting and re-organizing their lives to reflect a better tomorrow in anyway possible.  They too, like Matisse, take the same shapes and move them around until they feel right.

Elaine Sturtevant’s posthumous exhibit “Double Trouble” calls for examination of the process and the reasons why these artist produced the art they did, when they did. Hip-hop music is an amazing medium that music teachers, educators and teaching artist need to challenge themselves with digesting. Hip-hop has captured the public’s imagination for the last three decades. I am apart of the hip-hop generation and the children I work with regularly, are members of the post-hip-hop. They have been surrounded and bathed by the beats and flows of hip-hop all their lives. I liken it to seeing the pop art of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring all of my life, but never studying it formally in school. However, I do remember studying the art and history of Europe more than I ever dissected the American experience in class.  Hip-hop, like many American folk arts, begs for the examination of the society in which is resides.  It asks the participants to critically think about the messages found in the prose, and the motifs found within the ostinatos. Music educators should take a critical look at their own practices and reasons from implementing them in their classrooms. Why do you use the music you are using to teach students? Why are you uncomfortable with hip-hop music? These an many more questions should be coursing their your mind, hopefully, as you read this and other blogs about hip-hop in education (music).

As I moved from one section of the MoMA to the next I saw a Jean-Michel Basquiat piece, a Van Gogh, a Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and a variety of other artist from modernity that figured out the template concept. “Cut and Swipe” is a great example of appropriation and the profundity that can be found within it. Often, people are dismissive of the “Copy & Paste” aesthetic that is found in hip-hop music and culture. The simplicity is often where the complexity is disguised to seem easy, and that is actually the genius. Take a moment and use a MPC, Apex, turntable or other digital device to capture, edit, and perform music…without formal training. Its really hard, and takes an intuitive understanding of musical form and content. I implore all music teachers to treat hip-hop music like all other forms and hold it critically to the light and be objective about the impact it can have in your classroom. I want to clarify what critical means. I don’t mean be a critic without having knowledge in or about the topic, but I mean you should investigate and analyze the form before dismissing it. It has a utility and the ability to be a bridge, a lens or a practice from which teacher and student can connect. It is a space of inquiry that is contemporary in nature, that’s a good thing!

So, suggestion… take the idea of Template, Cut & Paste and apply them to your research in music, as well as research artist like J-Dilla, Matisse, Van Gogh, Warhol, Kanye West, and Romare Bearden with your students.

I recently read a student’s blog that discussed the Matisse Cut-Outs at the MoMA, and she used the idea of using appropriation to explore new territories, new mediums. This is exactly what I’m suggesting music educators to use popular arts forms in their classrooms for. Start where the student is, and the world they live in to help foster their exploration of the many lives worlds and shared realities hat exist. Hip-hop music is only one of many paths to enlightenment, that both teacher and student can sojourn together on.

#HipHopMusicEd

As a teacher you’re always learning twice. As a music teacher pick music that allows for you to learn as well as your students. Take the Barbara Lindquist approach to ethnomusicological teaching of music. We teach the post hip-hop generation, why not think forward to tomorrow by using the music of today instead of the music of yesterday i.e. European Classical. Granted, study of that music has its merit and positive outcomes, BUT why that music, in this country, at this time? It’s 2015 and we still haven’t got the collective nerve to sit and analyze our, American, own music.. (Insert sad face). That’s why teachers learn twice, when they have to tackle the universal design of their lessons to help their entire class population, and the second time when they are overcoming their own bias in respect to the music. music teachers, take a stand and devote a couple of lessons to analyzing hip-hop music in your classroom, regardless of what type of class. Be brave and open up the canon. Do not worry about how authentic it is, do the research in respect to the beat producers and deejays. Don’t try to synthesize black culture (stereotypes) in your approach, even though it’s an important part. Just observe, pay respect to the ethos and the people that created it (urban minorities in the 1970’s). Replicate and analyze the music while making comments on topics/themes, musical elements, and truly studying what you and your students are working together on. Ask questions like; what do you see, what you hear, what does it mean to you. There is so much potential in the use and study of this music. The goal shouldn’t be to just make it an end, but rather to allow it to be a means as well.

#HipHopMusicEd #musiced #hiphopmusic #teacherasadvocate #socialjustice #hiphop

The Utility of Hip-Hop Music in Music Education #HipHopMusicEd


 

HipHopMusicEd

HipHopMusicEd

The Utility of Hip-Hop Music in Music Education #HipHopMusicEd


 

I really love hip-hop music, …no I REALLY love hip-hop music! I have loved it, the good and the bad, ever since I was about 11 years old and my mother bought me some Addidas high-tops like Run DMC, and took me to see “Tougher Than Leather”, a movie produce by Russell Simmons and that featured Run DMC (coincidentally, it was a great album as well.) So, I’ve been in love with hip-hop music for almost three decades. As a member of the hip-hop generation I am both a critic and advocate for the power of the music, and by proxy the culture. I’ve seen hip-hop grow into a multi-billion dollar industry that started off as a mechanism for expression and agency, out of the urban experience. I fell in love with music even earlier than I feel in love with hip-hop. I can remember going to the record store, yes the Record store, to pick up new music. See, my mother was and still is a lover of good music. So, I grew up listening to Stevie Wonders “Innervision”, all of Natalie Cole, the Ohio Player’s “Honey”and “Fire”, as well as all of EWF (Earth, Wind & Fire). I watched Casey Kasem “America’s Top 10” every Saturday when I would visit my grandmother’s sister Luella. I was and still am the Hip-Hop generation. My favorite hip-hop song of all time is “Stakes is High” by De La Soul, track produced by the dynamic genius of J-Dilla. I used to play in a hip-hop band in Chicago called H2O Soul, and we often opened up for the legendary hip-hop band,  the Roots, Mos Def, and Common in Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI. I still make my own mixtapes (CD)of the hottest rappers out so that I can hear them in my car on either my iphone or my cd player. I am Hip-hop.

I have also been part of the conservatory method that was a huge part of the model used to design the American system of music education. I am a professional trumpet player (jazz) and I have two degrees in music performance, one a M.M. in jazz studies from Northern Illinois University (Go Huskies). But, the majority of my musical development and understanding, over the last twenty years, of what I feel real music, honest music, should be like comes from my time investigating hip-hop music on my own. Its these critical experiences in hip-hop, I believe, along with critical reflection that can and will help save American Music Education. I know that’s a bold statement, but there has to be something said about a musical genre that is global in nature. There are hip-hop cultures all over the world. Hip-hop exploded on the scene like a nuclear bomb, leaving radiation everywhere…affecting everything around the blast zone, whether it be lasting or temporary. The debates that have sprung from the addition of the music into the popular domain of culture is immense. The critical writing on the subject, in the “con” side, is a large number. However, there are a few examples of researchers calling for more investigation into hip-hop pedagogy. This groups use the music and culture as a device rather than a music making opportunity. These experiences in music that we are talking about would be called “Musicking” by the late ethnomusicologist, Chris Small. Daily we all are bathed is sound, and music in its essence, is sound. Why must we be masters in order to craft something? That’s a horrible thought, to believe that in order to take part in something you can only do so if you are the master of it. You can never contribute, or feel value until you have truly mastered it, correct? I disagree with this sentiment and believe hip-hop music’s development has helped music endure in the America of the 21st century. It helped the music industry sustain over the last two decades. It has revitalized the way we share music and how often we can do it. Hip-hop was child along with the internet, synthesizers and cable, and the little brother to Funk, Punk and Disco. Hip-hop was raised on a diet of Reganomics, budgetary cuts in Arts Education, the Crack Explosion, and the AIDS epidemic of the  early 1980’s. What a dynamic time in the world, and more specifically the United States of America.

So, I believe this dynamism that Hip-hop, the music of  the Urban America experience, encountered during that time makes it a suitable and relevant bridge, lens and practice – framework, in which to work in. Music education is behind the eight ball and needs to look deeply in itself to find the big why(s)? Why do we teach? Why do we need to teach that? Why isn’t Hip-Hop music part of the canon? Why are we afraid to use hip-hop as more than a tool? Why aren’t we treating it as a subject – space of inquiry? These questions can be very difficult to answer, for some. Hip-Hop is relevant for the millions of people that are part of the post-hip hop generation. Hip-hop, for them, has always been a part of their lives and they can’t remember a time when there wasn’t hip-hop music or culture seen all around them. They can’t think of a time before rap, or when there wasn’t graffiti somewhere, or when deejays didn’t mix records without the use of a crossfader? Hip-hop is S.T.E.A.M.. If you really want to be real about it. Its the place where technology, society (culture), and music collide (imbricate) creating a beautiful consequence. If you want to relate to this generation of people, as a music educator, you will have to overcome your fear of messing it up (experience) or not doing it authentically (realness), and truly investigate the music (black urban culture). Music education programs will have to accept change and include new things into their pedagogies on pedagogy(instruction). I advocate for change, not massive and devastating change, but dynamic change nonetheless.

The use of hip-hop music in American music education is useful, practical and relevant. The utility of hip-hop music in music education is tremendous. Its both an “end” and a “mean” and that spells out a win win for all educators. Hip-hop has an aesthetic deeply grounded in ethnographic dislocating, de-centering and disrupting what we value and what our values are. The music can be analyze by theoretician, historian and educational teachers in three different perspectives; “Hip-hop as Bridge”, “Hip-hop as Lens” and “Hip-hop as Practice” (Kruse, 2014). These delicate yet flexible frameworks, through which we can use and engage with the space of inquiry that hip-hop creates, are important to recognize prior to delineating our curriculum. In order to create lasting change we must first get teachers, students, administrators and the public at large to understand that music is sound, and hip-hop in its purest form is sound appropriation. Its similar to the renown work of appropriation artist Elaine Sturtevant (Check out the MoMA – Double Trouble) did in the late nineteen-seventies from works centered on Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollack. Hip-hop helps people combat and face their biggest prejudices by allowing an open debate between lyricist, deejays, graffiti artist, breakdancers and the audience to be had, about topics including but not limited to; freedom, identity, democracy, police brutality, violence in urban areas, racism, sexism, peace, victory and a wide array of other themes. Its a great introduction for music students interested in composition to learn about building motifs and motives. Its a perfect way to teach patience and what a groove is (Ostinato). It allows the teacher to deal with timbre and sonority, two of the most difficult topics in music education. Teachers can use the music to explore ethnomusicological approach to getting their students to learn more about the culture of America, history of our country and the various factors that contribute to our place in the world. Hip-hop helps people (that participate with it) to write their own worlds (story) in a more accessible ways than most other musical genres. Its accessible, and teachers need to know that the only thing between hip-hop music and them, is really only them and their preconceived notions about the culture and music(BAM). I prefer that the academy take a look at the programs all around the country that would benefit from culturally relevant music education, and simply attempt to expand the canon. Include a couple of famous hip-hop tunes as evidence of a willingness to engage with others about our path. Sometimes we as teachers (educators) forget that we are not in a fight with society or culture(people), but rather we are in a war with the thoughts and ideas that pollute our minds and those of the masses.

As I spoke earlier about “de-centering” “dislocating” and “disrupting” our thinking or ideological sediment, hip-hop music is great at doing that. Democracy demands controversy (Hess 2009). So, what other music has caused as much controversy as hip-hop? Lets use this space of inquiry as an opportunity to get teacher and student using discussion as a way of learning. To share is at the heart of the arts, and the vehicle of the aesthetic. Democracy is but a frame about which we demand to contribute our voices, but their must still be a system put in place to make sure everyone is heard. I am not suggesting that we simply change all of the literature and repertoire lists that exist in American Music Education, but that we simply expand it in order to make needed room for all American music genres. They all deserve to be valued as product, artifact, space of inquiry, movement, culture, etc. As American changes, demographically, so should the things that we value. We should start seeing more elements of the minority view present in the privileged position, because the Eurocentric values of our forefathers are antiquated and have never really represented the entirety of the American populous.

 

So, what I will be doing over the next couple of years, is build a case for a space for hip-hop music in music education. I hope you will join me, because will be writing about curriculum, instruction and uses of hip-hop pedagogy in the domain of the music classroom. I hope you will engage with me in this journey and feel free to comment and ask questions. I will post the link to my blog on #twitter #instagram and #facebook using the hashtag #hiphopmusiced

 

Sincerely,

Jarritt A Sheel

#hiphopmusiced #hiphopmusiceducation #hiphoped #hiphoppedagogy #hiphop #Music #MusicEducation

 

 


 

Louis Vuitton early symbol of Hip-Hop Culture #HipHopMusicEd

“Louis Vuitton and Karl Lagerfeld celebrate the (Louis Vuitton Symbol) Monogram” #artsinnyc2015 #nyc #art #dapperdan #hiphopmusiced #hiphop #hiphopfashion No one in high-fashion could believe that popular culture (disenfranchised) populations would appropriate this monogram to be used by appropriation artist like Dapper Dan, who would get the fabric, leather and design to craft haute couture for hip-hop artist in the early 1980’s. Dan located in #Harlem #nyc would create dope hip-hop fashion using appropriated designs, monograms and emblems in his creation. He reminds me of #ElaineSturtevant #appropriationart teachers can use this theme, action, process and topic in their classes to teach difficult subjects and concepts. Taking skills from one experience and applying them to another situation. #transferoflearning #luisvuittion #karllagerfeld

#HipHopMusicEd

Happy New Year!

2015 will be one for the history books. As we transversed the line of demarcation between 2014 and 2015, we are in for many historical changes in America. Whether it is health care, free college, the testing craze, racial violence, gay marriage rights or the legalization of marijuana 2015 will be a time of great change. This will happen regardless of our readiness or will to accept these changes. I am excited to learn, participate, and observe the radical evolution of the average American. I thought long and hard about my positionality within this historical moment and will continue to document, participate and help craft the change in my immediate community. I want to contribute to the difficult conversations we need to have. That is why I have decided to proctor conversations via social media every Wednesday about Hip-Hop Music’s inclusion into the canon, curriculum and instruction (pedagogy) of the American music classroom. I will provide a space of inquiry on social media through the use of the hashtag #hiphopmusiced.

This, I hope, will be a starting point for many to hear my ideas, thoughts and approaches for incorporating hip-hop culture into their classrooms as well as to share their own experiences. Hip-Hop, and many other American musical genres, has been part of giving voice and facilitating agency within the various urban and disenfranchised communities of America, and worldwide over the last three decades. I, as a member of the Hip-Hop generation see the value in this music. I saw it flourish and evolve, and now I see how it is seamlessly engrained into the lives of the post-hip-hop generation I currently teach. So, that is the starting point and I would like to implore all music educators to explore and incorporate more elements of the hip-hop culture into your teaching. Hip-hop is more than music, culture or a pedagogical approach(es).

Hip-hop is not just an end, its also a means. I look forward to the many conversation we will have in the coming months about aesthetic experiences through hip-hop music within the arts classroom. Come join me on social media (twitter, facebook & instagram) as well as here on my blog every Wednesday. We will use the hashtag #hiphopmusiced to allow others to follow along and share their trepidation and triumphs in tackling difficult subjects with their students, within familiar spaces of inquiry (hip-hop). I’m inspired, and I hope you are too!

My handles on Social Media

Facebook: @ Jarritt Sheel or https://www.facebook.com/JSheelMusic

Twitter: @jsheelmusic

Instagram: @jsheel

Salon: The Segregationist History of the Charter Movement

Diane Ravitch's blog

In a stunning post at Salon, Christopher Bonastia describes the ugly origins of the charter industry in the segregationist movement. The basic idea behind efforts to fight desegregation was school choice, paid for by taxpayers. The goal was to allow white students to continue to attend all-white private academies with public dollars. Today, the charter industry targets black students, which ironically popularizes the idea of all-black, segregated schools. Desegregation is no longer a priority for public policy, despite research that shows its benefits.

He writes:

“The now-popular idea of offering public education dollars to private entrepreneurs has historical roots in white resistance to school desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The desired outcome was few or, better yet, no black students in white schools. In Prince Edward County, Virginia, one of the five cases decided in Brown, segregationist whites sought to outwit integration by directing taxpayer funds…

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A Great Idea from President Obama

Diane Ravitch's blog

President Obama has proposed making two years of community college tuition-free for all. That’s an excellent plan. Too many young people are priced out of any higher educAtion, and this removes affordability as an obstacle. Community colleges were originally underwritten by state and local governments to expand access, so this plan restores the original purpose of the community college. My hope would be that this plan would not only open the doors of higher education to many students, but would undercut predatory for-profit online “universities.”

This was reported in Politico.com this morning:

“By Caitlin Emma

With help from Eliza Collins and Allie Grasgreen

COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR EVERYONE: President Barack Obama is headed to Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee today, where he’ll propose making two years of community college free “for everybody who’s willing to work for it.” But he’ll need the approval of Congress to make it happen. So…

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Hilzik: Public Higher Education Should Be Free

Diane Ravitch's blog

Michael Hilzik of the Los Angeles Times reminds readers that public higher education in California used to be tuition free. It was also tuition free for qualified students at the City University of Néw York.

“President Obama’s proposal unveiled Thursday to provide free community college education to all “responsible” students is garnering immense attention. That’s as it should be, although the details still need to be fleshed out and individual states will have to agree to shoulder a share of the costs.

“But the proposal fails to address one glaring flaw in the nation’s overall system of public higher education: It should all be free. That’s the way it is in Germany, for instance, where there is a long tradition of low-cost university study. In 2014 the last German state holding out against free university education threw in the towel; now anyone, including foreign students, can study at a German…

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The Late Donald Byrd: His Impact on American Education

TC Public Space

Photo of Donald BYRD Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II (December 9, 1932 – February 4, 2013)

BY JARRITT SHEEL

Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II passed away on February 4, 2013 in Dover, Delaware where he had been a resident for decades. He was a titan in the realms of Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Hip-Hop music. He was one of the only bebop musicians to successfully forge the paths of Soul & Funk music. He was a formidable arts advocate and helped develop music education curriculum for jazz studies programs at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). A legacy like Byrd’s remains a phenomenon that comes along only every couple of generations. He is what many people call a triple threat, someone whom can write (academically), perform and teach. His impact in the area of music performance was extremely deep and pervasive to say the least. His artistry, advocacy and ability to help create…

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