June 30, 2009

HOme Away FrOM HOme

Growing up in Africa as a young girl my only link to America was through the popular music that played through the few radios my family owned. By all intents and purposes I knew no English words besides that of artists such as Michael Jackson who's music covered the distance of continents. American popular music has had a profound impact on me at every stage of my life. Through its many different genres it has been the soundtrack to my every emotion, situation and relationship. I know I speak for many people in my life when I say music has shaped the way I think, act and in many cases live. A good song can challenge us all to do better i.e. "Come Together" by the Beatles or encourage us to let it all go and have a little fun i.e. "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga. Music has done a lot towards limiting the differences between us all, it brings people together and gives people the opportunity to really understand one another. Whether it is a privileged person learning a little about the ills of living in the projects around the world through hip hop music or a Muslim learning a thing or two about a different God through Christian gospel music, our eyes are opened and our opinions challenged through this major form of entertainment.

When I came to America I quickly learned that popular music was a way of life and through the lyrics of songs people found refuge, made friends and communicated with one another. The biggest artists were those who seemed to be able to communicate the most basic human emotions in a melody that everyone could readily remember. American popular music was not just for Americans. I can remember the first birthday party I attended in the States and being very nervous because I had only been in this country for a small amount of time and was looking to make friends but feared not knowing many of the games played and not being able to relate to the music. So imagine my joy at hearing Michael Jackson's song Bad as I walked in the door and being able to sing right a long with my peers although I was still having trouble remembering basic English words and sentence structures. On that day music helped me close the gap and made me feel included. Fast forward to my matriculation through junior high school in which, to say the least, I was very far from the swan I grew into and often times felt overlooked by the boys I went to school with. After having a long crying spell and talking to my best friend in depth about not feeling attractive, she played for me a song that I will always hold dear to my heart. She played TLC's "Unpretty" in which the three girls sing "...You can buy all the makeup that MAC can make/But if you cant look inside you/ Find out who am I to/Be in the position to make me feel so damn Unpretty", I cried and never felt bad about myself again. Music was there for me in that moment for so many moments after that.
Throughout high school music continued to shape my existence. Because I did not have the same upbringing as so many of my peers I often time used music to fill in the blanks that created the difference in how we all were brought up. Going back and listening to the artists and songs that my friends referenced as they shared memories of where they were or what they had done made me feel a little less like an outsider. Music was the glue for my sticking on to the culture of American youth. It helped me open up and feel accepted into this world that was so foreign to me for so long and it continues to do that for many people as they make the journey to America. American popular music has created a language that is universal like math and science. It is as important as anything taught in schools today because it encourages unity and highlights differences instead of blacklisting them. Popular music is important to me because it helped to give me an identity in this home away from my home.

June 27, 2009

MUsic Lessons Part II

In remembrance of Michael Jackson I would like to assign the students a sort of dance assignment. This lesson would be done after a workshop of different popular music and a look back into music, Motown, and all sorts of black popular music that all began in the 50's. As a pop culture icon Michael Jackson produced and profited of thousands of songs and was a international pop star. He sold 750 million albums world wide which is unprecedented for any artist African American, Asian American.... ANYONE. In this lesson the students will write a paper incorporating everything they have learned about Michael Jackson and the rise of Motown and how each one effected the world as well as their own lives. Through this assignment I hope to focus on the musical legacy he left behind and just how important it is to preserve that legacy.


What was the history of Motown?
Who was Michael Jackon?
What do you think about the ideas he expressed?
What were some of the things that he did that affected you?
How did it relate to your life?
What your favorite music video and how do you plan on performing it?

Rationale for Michael Jackson
To often stars fade when our legends die especially when they die young. Many times the work of legendary artists gets forgotten and so younger generations are not given the proper platform on which to appreciate the influence of late great performers (i.e. Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, etc..). What Michael Jackson did as a young African American child with his 4 brothers and well into adulthood as an African American man is monumental. He changed the world with his poise and grace and passion for perfection. His music has and is influencing artists in every country and in every single genre of music. He has broken every record there is to break as an artist and through his music there is a deeper appreciation gained for early music legends such as the Beatles, Elvis Presley, James Brown and many others. In studying his performances there are direct lines drawn between Jackson and early Hollywood musical stars such as Fred Astaire, who's stage presence and elegance is seen in every fedora tilting pose struck by Jackson, and Frank Sinatra who's "cool" inspired the work in Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal. This is an assignment that I feel mostly speaks for itself because there has never been or never will be an artist as big or influential as Michael Jackson. He is the King of Pop, the King of Videos and the King of Global Icons. His name is synonymous with music that touches people of all ages, races and walks of life. He is the greatest of all times and that is why this assignment is necessary.

Pop Culture Assignment

This lesson, entails writing about present-day pop culture as well as learning about pop culture of the past by using Cole Porter's song "You're the Top!" (1934) to touch on many issues relevant to a language arts classroom, especially the literary technique of cataloguing. The lesson also provides opportunities for student research on particular time periods. Students can include pop culture items from those particular time periods (relevant to the literature they are studying, for example) in expressing the "tops" in pop culture.


Students will
• work independently or in groups to reflect on items in pop culture of the past to determine items' place in pop culture.
• brainstorm "tops" in pop culture of the present day.
• use rhyme and rhythm to imitate Cole Porter's "You're the Top!"
• discuss and critique items worthy of recognition in today's pop culture

June 23, 2009

MUsic Lessons

Group Presentation Music Lyrics

There will be 8 groups and they will have to make collective presentations on areas of music. They will be assigned into the group each group will make both an oral presentation and submit a written summary of that presentation. This assignment will be given after lectures of different music types dissecting each in ways explaining how to find the texture the insight and the flexibility of the words used in music. For this lesson, students will find a song that is really lyrically inclined and poetic yet it can still be a favorite song or a song that they just like. This assignments isn't just to know what the song is about to dig deeper and learn how the words are put together and how that helps in convey what the song is about.
The presentation needs to include each of the 6 ways of reading music...
Saturation( the degree to which music creates meaning through language)
Structure(form, flow, rhythm)

During the presentation students will get to discuss their song lyrics and all the different imagery that they might get from it, or what they see that the rest of the class doesn't. They will go through each term and fully explain their thoughts on the song in comparison to others within the group.

Rationale for Music Lyrics Lesson:

The purpose of this lesson is to explore the poetry and literature of music really digging down deep into the speech and narrative of the music and the poetic form that it may take. The students will be able to liberate the words and examine their qualitative competence as literary works of art and their impact on our culture. The lesson is intended to leave students with a great list
Of music and their lyrical content of the way the music was made.

Music Sampling Lesson
In this day in age a lot of music is sampled from older songs that have been made. This less would be taught after a lesson dealing with older music from the 60's, 70's and 80's . It will ensure that students get a good thorough lesson on all the types of music that were popular and well known. For the lesson they will be able to once again bring a song that they like or a song that has special meaning to them so that they can diversify their knowledge of music history.

What is the song sampled from?
Is the sample a sample?
Is the original sample a different genre of music?
Does there sample song make the music better?
Can the sample song stand on it's own?
Is the main attraction of the song the sample part?

Rational for music Sampling Lesson
Popular music genres grow upon one another and it is imperative that music students understand the dependence of one on the other. For example, original hip hop came was birthed from many forms of both jazz and disco/funk music while original jazz came from many folk and African inspired music. With this said in order to know something about one genre of music you must be knowledgeable about the others. In order to fully appreciate some of today's best artist i.e. Coldplay, Kanye West or even Jay-Z, you must know where their music's inspiration is found. By including the students' personal favorites you can further peak their interest and through that open their mind to understanding other genres. Rock and roll fans will find themselves listening to classical music when tracking the sampling of everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Ya Ya Ya's. It is a simple lesson of music appreciation that allows the students to have a hands on approach to it all.

June 19, 2009

Chapter Three Resonse

Within this generation music has a huge impact and is very prevalent throughout many cultures and societies around the world. For most people music is a form of art and poetry that you can make and mold from your own thoughts and experiences in a non arbitrary way. I think that music it's self is such a big influence that adding an image to it has not only made it better but made it possible to not only appease the aural enjoyment of people but also satisfy peoples visual appetite as well. For me I am not a very big music buff, yet I do enjoy listening to all sorts of music. I may not know the song by name but I can recognize songs that I really enjoy and at times sing some of the lyrics if I've heard it enough. As a very visual learner I always need to see things before I can fully learn or relate to them, and that's what I think music videos has allowed for my generation to do. I was always one of those people who grew up with TV, who learned to do their homework, listen to the radio and watch TV all at the same time. For people like me, I think they needed to create a something that was non-linear, using mood and emotion to create a symbiotic atmosphere.

With Goodwin's explanation on synaesthesia it made me understand why music videos and music both fit so comfortably with one another and how big the impact of MTV's decision to air the first music video was. " Employing the concept of "synaethesia" the process whereby sensory impressions are carried from one sense to another in this case the visualization of musical sound...argued that the images of music videos were frequently connected to the music as a series of sonorial connotations, impression and extra musical significations"(88). I think that this is a very good explanation of the connection of music videos and music because it goes deeper into what the connection really is and the physical resemblance the both have and signify.

I really like music videos and could not imagine a world without them. In fact In the late 1970s, rock music had become so stale and stagnant before music videos. Radio stations were merely just cycling through the songs on their play lists. Revenues from record and tape sales had declined more than 10 percent from 1978 to 1979, and those in the industry did not know what to do. Bob Pittman, was then employed by Warner Communications, came up with a solution: behold the creation of music videos!

June 15, 2009

School of ROck

After watching the School of Rock I was very moved by Jack Black’s character Dewey Finn. The reason I was moved by his character was because of the complexity his character brought to this story. When we think about teachers in movies, as stated in the instructions, we usually think about those teachers who are totally disliked by students and are totally out for themselves. Then on the other hand we see those teachers who are all for the students, and they throw their own personal agendas out the windows in order to better the well being of the students. In this movie we are subjected to Dewey Finn, who though has his own personal agenda, is very dedicated to making sure students feel empowered and esteemed. This is very contraire to what we see in most movies as far as the depictions of teachers.
When discussing the values of Jack Black’s character Dewey Finn, I think we can all agree that his initial value is money. If it wasn’t for this concern Dewey would have never been intrigued by the opportunity to substitute teach. Once Dewey is kicked out of the band his value seemed to become very self-centered. He was so enthralled with the chance to compete in the Battle of the Bands that he used the students in his class in order to fulfill this craze. I think at this point in the movie, most would agree that Dewey’s values were very much self-absorbed, but at the same time we never see the students really angered or upset with Dewey. I believe the reason for this was his positive interaction with the students. He encouraged the students to be the best at whatever they were doing. Those who had musical talented were very much impressed by Dewey’s encouragement and excitement he got from their talents. I personally thought Dewey was very genuine in his encouragement of the children to be the best performers they could be. He recognized talents and he taught the students to value their talents. He taught the students that their talents were very worth pursuing, and he also taught them that their talents could make them the coolest kids in school, which every student wants to be in the 4th grade.
I think pop music plays a major role in the teaching of our youth. In today’s society I think the youth is very influenced by music. I think they receive their ideals and values from pop music, and this is not always the most beneficial to our society. I think in pop music teachers are usually labeled as not understanding, or not being able to relate to their students. For instance there are numerous artists in pop music who feel education and teachers are not bettering our youth. One prime example that comes to mind is Kanye West. His album College Dropout really knocks the educational system, and he takes numerous stabs at teachers and professors for not realizing the talents and passions of students. I think students do by into this notion that teachers just don’t understand students, and it makes it very difficult for students and teachers to get along. I think these pop stars with their platforms should praise the work of teachers and professors. I think it’s very disheartening when pop stars knock education, because everyone can’t become a pop star, but these artists portray this lifestyle that students believe is easily attainable.

June 8, 2009

Week 1 Sunday June 7 Women In Media

In today’s world of technology the female body is paraded as a prop, a gimmick or secondary thought. Although the body is celebrated it is done in a demeaning fashion, women are not encouraged to be fully dressed and covered they are encouraged to live by a simple deliberate rule “less is best” also in other realms of entertainment women who do hold power do so in a very delicate mix of using sexuality paired with the very real superwomen creating and standard that is just an arms length out of reach because it was an illusion to begin with. Just looking at the way that black women them selves are portrayed in media can give you a sense of how all women can be put into stereotypical categories and images.
The Jezebel, Mammy and the Superwoman are three stereotypes that built up the power of media. When these images are portrayed to the audience it creates an invisible layer of predetermined assumptions that African American women must continuously and unconscientiously work against to market their true selves in society and media. It forms an expected behavior of black women that is completely unjust and in no way truly reflecting the essence of Black women or women in general. It also does not allow for the freedom of movement that other groups of women get to experience, movement meaning a space to wear many different hats and move around as she wishes without being perceived as deviating to far way from what she. The degrading image of Lil’ Kim in the “how many licks video” marginalizes black women into a small box of expression that is approved to be appropriate for them, further more if you choose to deviate from the role given it raises questions about your authenticity as a black women. Suggesting that these qualities surly cannot be represented by the whole group you are the anomaly.
While on the surface it seems that the media is taking the right steps to change stereotypical views, it really is just a collage of the stereotypes pressed together creating a new one. We have a prime time line up of the Reality TV jezebel who is gunning to get the inherence of the next rich rapper that wants extra exposure, doing whatever it takes to get his attention.
Although characters of the pass the reality is that the Jezebel, Mammy and the Superwoman have not left us yet in 2009. These stereotypes are living, breathing and functioning under new names but with the same old faces. One of the strongest ways in which characters are perpetuated is through the entry point of media. Media many times works against positive images of black women usually operating on one end of the spectrum or the other. There is not much room for the personalities in between. Unfortunately over the years something tragic happened, as a culture we decided not to care. Now the Jezebel is hiding in plain sight she is found on Bet, Mtv and many other vastly popular channels. The mammy appears on house hold products that we support and buy each day. And the superwoman lives on not even knowing she was created to be incompressible under pressure with the public being highly desensitized it is no wonder that many of us sit in front of a television, laugh at a movie or read an article that once again brings these stereotypes right into the comfort our home without question about where the lingering images were created and why they are still here.

June 5, 2009

Week 1

American Pop Music has taken on many different forms dating back to the
Civil War. The many different genres and branches of popular music that
have formed through the many centuries of music development is awe inspiring. My favorite
genre to discuss in the journey of American Pop Music is the journey of hip
hop because I think it has its on special journey especially when dealing
with the inclusion of African Americans in pop music. If the first form of
pop music was linked to something as degrading and damaging as minstrelsy
and blackface to see a culture created in just a few centuries after is
incredible. Reading the evolution of american pop music is also a testament
to where the evolution of America not only as a place of tolerance but as a
place of inclusion and acceptance. With ragtime, blues, jazz, rock, R&B,
doo wop, gospel, soul, funk, heavy metal, punk, disco, house, techno,
salsa, grunge and hip hop being included in the definition of american pop
music there is no one left behind in the enjoyment of american
entertainment. Broadway doesnt seem to be a part of mainstream pop culture
the way it is presented in the article because mostly it is an American
privilege not always enjoyed by all.
The question of whether pop music is an end in itself or a means to understanding traditional literature can be addressed. It is suggested that the teaching of the poetry of rock can be accomplished without neglecting the poetry of poetry, and that teachers can move from pop music to profound music without leaving a negative impression of pop art forms. For teaching popular music in my own class I would incorporate the well know instincts of the way information can be relayed from generation to generation especially through music. From culture to culture you can find most stories of history and legend. Culture and information was and still is passed from generation to generation through song and the art of storytelling. I think the use of current popular music has to be the most productive way to incorporate learning. One thing that students can identify with in this culture is music. You can often see almost all students with a Ipod in their ear listening to what ever music speaks to them the most. Using similar formats to musical expression and linking them to subjects within the classroom will make the information catchy and easy to learn. I think instead of trying to bring students “Back to the Basics”, students are forced to memorize and regurgitate information, students need to be encouraged to associate their music to things they learn. if they listen and practice the information they learn in school as much as they listen to their music one can assume that their ability to retain the information will improve. I believe students will be able to take more away from their educational experiences and be more able to apply it to their everyday lives which I think is the main goal of education. Making sure students retain information more so then memorizing it for the time being.