Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Sing: Part 3, song choice

Sorry for the delay! Life happens. Blogging gets put to the back burner. 

You can read part 1 here and part 2 here

Part 3: song choice

During my job interview, my principal asked me "How do you feel about pop music?"

I told her I thought it was great. I thought pop music was the way to keep music in our schools, and that keeping music relevant and connected to our kids would bridge the gap between real world learning and school learning. I told her I thought it was our place as educators to make careful choices about lyrics and artists such that we're choosing age appropriate pop, but ultimately I liked the idea of incorporating music kids were already listening to into the curriculum in addition to the various genres we already studied.

Was that the right answer? Who knows. It was my answer and it was in sync with how my principal felt so I got the job. It's also the attitude that had so many people talking about me and the songs I picked after the spring sing.

Some of the artists we sang were:

The Beatles
Michael Jackson
Green Day
Natasha Bedingfield
Owl City

We sang the real versions of the songs done by the real artists. There were no "kiddie" versions dumbed down or rearranged. We rocked the house. I had third graders moonwalking across the stage and sixth graders belting out like they never felt self conscious in their lives (ok at least most of them).

My secret formula? Sing songs kids like and songs parents approve of. And that you like.

When I had three classes per grade level practicing each song two times each week for ten weeks, I listened to each song about forty-five times. Probably more when you count the recesses and lunches I spent working with soloists. So yeah, I picked songs I like.

Well songs I liked. I like them less now. A lot less. 

I fretted for weeks about what songs to sing. I worried about the lyrics and the key and the length and the rhythms and balance of female and male artists. In the end I had all my songs approved by the principal and I sent copies of the lyrics to each teacher (lest anyone have the chance to complain they "didn't know" we were singing that) and I still worried someone would say something.

It turns out people sure did have lots to say. Most of what they said to my face was good though!

They said "you sure picked fun songs" and "wow those are songs from the radio" and "hey wasn't that song on Glee" and "Isn't that from American Idol" and "my kid loves that song I can't get him to stop singing it" and "I don't really like Michael Jackson, I know what he did!" and "Is Natasha Bedingfield really Rock N Roll" and "my kids know these songs from playing Rock Band" and "I'm so glad you're singing real songs now."

Hey, at least I gave people something to talk about. 

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