The Gypsy Carpenters and Tom Moran did three solid hours of music enrichment yesterday at the Palapa Society in Todos Santos. I am not sure who was enriching whom. The three hours were split into three age groups and the main goal is the development of English language skills through a variety of activities. For our first class we showed up open minded and sans agenda. What developed was fun and hilarious and physically draining. I led the Hokey Pokey in two classes but a total of four times. Once to show. Twice slowly (it is not native to Baja culture) and third time with the kids calling out the body parts. The last time was with a group of teenagers so embarrassed we couldn’t make them do it again. So with a goal of using music to teach music appreciation and English what do yo do? What we did was sing nonsense phrases to the youngest kids in a call and response format. With Burt and Tom beating out a rhythm Burt, Serena (the teacher) and I rapped about Blue hair and pink toes and one apple, two apples, three apples, apples grow on trees, my dog has fleas…we were down with the rapping until finally the coup d’grace: my dog is made of spinach. Yes, that winner of a lame phrase of absolutely no use came out of my mouth. Spinach dog killed the vibe and the song. Such is the life of a beginning rapper. I recovered myself with a rousing call and response of nonsense sounds used as vocal exercises.
By the last class Tom had run off to an adult gig and Burt and I were facing the manifest disinterest of a wall of teenagers. Teenagers are the same everywhere. Adults must be brave. I decided the Hokey Pokey would be done and with Serena’s fortitude added to my own we gave them the Hokey Pokey. Strong arm tactics were employed. Most of the kids did some semblance of the dance and all of them were laughing by the time I was sticking my hips in and out of the circle and shaking them all about. After that we demonstrated rhythm (el ritmo), melody (la melodia) and harmony (la harmonia). The kids named various styles of music they liked and we played some reggae, jazz, rock, and folk for them. They kindly gave us their attention. Bad Moon on the Rise, Three little Birds and Let it Be were chosen as songs to be sung as a group in future gatherings. We also ended this group with the vocalization exercises we used on the wee kids. They liked making funny noises.
So our goal this year is to develop a list of songs that are age appropriate and can help teach English. Any ideas are welcome. Please, send them in. We’re even thinking of a performance of some kind of musical, maybe something with a mishmash of tunes to tell a simple story. More ideas, please. Pat Owens! Wake UP! You and your Portal buddies are experts at this stuff. Next year we might start an instrumental education program. We’ll see how the singing classes go.
You can read more about this great organization here: www.palapasociety.org.