Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oh When Will They Ever Learn?

As the kittens Cheech and Chong continue to search for the treasure of the Sierra Madre under my bed at a speed of Warp 95 billion, I would like to tell you about school.

Not middle school, because there are no particularly good stories yet, save for the fact that my child will need therapy following the nervous breakdown she has from having to memorize the combinations to 97 different locks.

Not TunaU, where everything except traffic and trains are moving at the speed of light. Tonight I had no less than 7 work related emails from professors. I'm a hard worker and all, but there isn't much work I can accomplish five miles away from my place of employment -- and in my pajamas.

This week marked my return to the Scottish college, and all things singing.

Every fall I teach a class voice course, where they learn the basics of singing through a variety of musical styles. It's always a fun class. Most of the students are freshman, so they are all fresh-faced, excited and energetic. PLUS they voluntarily participate in class discussions. I know it's a temporary condition, but still I say, Halleluia!

In the first unit we focus on folksongs because generally speaking, they are easier to sing, and the kids are familiar with more of them right off the bat. In addition to singing, I have them do a great deal of listening so they can tune their ears to vocal and instrumental styles.

Last year I made the grave error of playing the unofficial six-minute and fourteen-second Tuna Clan anthem, The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald. Much to my horror, practically nobody knew it, and then I was informed this music was played on OLDIES radio stations. Well, let me tell you, I wasn't about to make THAT mistake again. Today I walked into class with my CD of Peter, Paul & Mary (THE most well-known folksong artists in the history of ever), and I played "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" (One of the most well-known folksongs in the history of folksong-dom).

Out of a class of 12, NOBODY knew who Peter, Paul and Mary were.
Out of a class of 12, two had heard the song before.
Out of those two, one only knew it in German -- and she was from Bellaruss.

Mein Gott Im Himmel!

I've decided I'm going to campaign for a new college course, entitled, "Every Song You Really Just Ought to Know -- BECAUSE I SAID SO." At least then maybe I won't feel like such a fossil.



Mensch71 said...

I'm turning in my diploma. Gack. Damn kids.

Anonymous said...

Does it make you feel any better to know that my 5-year-old knows who Peter, Paul and Mary are? He likes "Puff, the Magic Dragon", "Light One Candle," and "Don't Laugh at Me". He's heard me sing "If I Had a Hammer" (generally whenever someone says "If I had . . ." thusandsuch), but I'm not sure he knows it's PP&M.

Jay Ann Cox, PhD said...

Hi GT, back from summer brain/blog vacation.

I had this similar thing come up, only it was 1991 or so. I asked them, "what movie has probably changed your life?" This to a class of 25 18 yr olds. More than 8 of them said, "Cocktail." That's the Tom Cruise (FREAK) movie of drinking, doing the boss's daughter and aspiring to hang out in bars.

I wanted to pack it in. How can you teach George Orwell to those who aspire to toss margaritas? (either the cocktail shaker, or after consumption, in the parking lot). Feh. These kids today.