I just wanted to let you all know about a cool website that allows students opportunity to explore sounds, soundscapes and music. Please take a moment and check out this site!
“But…. I Don’t Wanna: Music Teachers Struggling with Hip-Hop Music Literature in Their Classroom”
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.
“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.
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
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
Maxine you will remain on my mind and on my heart for the rest of my life. Thank you for the many moments you shared with me. Your intellect, bravery, courage and elasticity to any situation presented to you is a real testament to what is needed and is good in mankind. I will miss you dearly. Maxine, I love you…
“There are no final words, but only questions.” – Maxine Greene
“[O]f all our cognitive capacities, imagination is the one that permits us to give credence to alternative realities. It allows us to break with the taken for granted, to set aside familiar distinctions and definitions” (p. 3). – Maxine Greene
During this recent spring semester (2014) Teachers College, Columbia University I had the fantastic opportunity to take a course from Dr Maxine Greene. This experience truly changed my life forever. My time with Maxine helped change the why I imagine the world and my place in it. Her attitude is amazing, and I truly love her incredible curiosity for the varieties of freedom that exist in the world. She has become my intellectual mentor. Her positive comments have helped me be braver and sure of the direction that I am traveling in. Her works, “The Dialectic of Freedom” as well as “Releasing the Imagination” have given me tremendous amounts of reflective material to build my understanding of freedom, power and the connection that the imagination has to it. She and Stephen D. Brookfield have given me an insight into critical pedagogy and its place in current education.
Aesthetic experience is tremendous! Thanks Maxine for allowing me into your home and sharing your thoughts with me. I love you and admire your courage. I hope that I will be half as productive and courageous as you!
American educational philosopher, author, social activist and teacher who values experiential learning in its “entirety”, Maxine Greene has influenced thousands of educators to bring the vitality of the arts to teachers and children. For Greene, art provided a conduit to mean-making, a way of making sense of the world. For more than 30 years she has been Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) philosopher-in-residence.
Greene earned her PhD. (1955) and M.A. (1949) from New York University and a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University (1938). She taught at New York University,Montclair State College and Brooklyn College. In 1965, she joined the faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University.
In 1973 she was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto II. As Philosopher-in-Residence of Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education since 1976, Greene conducts workshops (especially in literature as art) and lectures at LCI’s summer sessions.
In 2003, she founded the Maxine Greene Foundation for Social Imagination, the Arts, and Education. The foundation supports the creation and appreciation of works that embody fresh social visions. Its goal is “to generate inquiry, imagination and the creation of art works by diverse people.” Grants of up to $10,000 are awarded to educators and artists.
In 2005, she inspired the creation for the High School of Arts, Imagination and Inquiry in association with LCI and New Visions for Public Schools. The school encourages students to expand their imaginative capacities in the arts and other subject areas.
Greene is past President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Philosophy of Education Society, American Educational Studies Association (AESA), and theMiddle Atlantic States Philosophy of Education Society.
She is the recipient of honorary degrees in the Humanities from Lehigh University, Hofstra University, the University of Colorado at Denver, Indiana University, Goddard College,Bank Street College, Nazareth College (Rochester, New York), McGill University, College Misericordia, and Binghamton University.
She was awarded the Medal of Honor from Teachers College and Barnard College; Educator of the Year Award from Phi Delta Kappa; the Scholarly Achievement Award from Barnard College; AERA’s Lifetime Achievement Award; and received a Fulbright Program fellowship, which took her to New Zealand.
In 2004, the Teachers College Trustees created the Maxine Greene Chair for Distinguished Contributions to Education.
Other important works include:
Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast-member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1982, she taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton‘s inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy‘s inauguration in 1961.
With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou’s major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.