Student Quotables…

I think that by now, a lotta y’all know that I’m a Music educator at a charter school in Washington D.C. Honestly, if you are lacking in the sense of humor department, you won’t last as a teacher at this school… or ANY school for that matter. So with that being said, allow me to introduce you to some of my students and their special ‘quotable’ moments… They are always saying something crazy… or memorable, I should say. These joints are coming off of the top of my head, so I’ll be sure to keep this going with a part two sometime soon. Step into my life for a minute…lol

• On November 5th, 2008, the day after President Obama’s victory on Election Day…
Student: Mr Ferguson, you hear that Obama is gonna be President?”
Me: “Yeah, I believe I heard something to that effect”
Student: “That means we ain’t gotta deal with no more white muhfuckas no more!”

• Student sees paper pinned on the wall under “Honorable Mention” (where I normally put papers that receive a “B” grade)…
Student: “Mr. Ferguson, you terrible”
Me: “Huh? Why do you say that?”
Student: “You put my paper under ‘Horrible Mention'”

• The Grand Epiphany
Student: “Mr. Ferguson, I just realized last week that ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ was about Tina Turner and her husband Ike”

• I showed one of my classes the movie ‘Ray’ and the part came up where they showed Ray (Jamie Foxx) and his wife holding their first born child…
Student: “Mr. Ferguson, is that (the real) Ray Charles’ baby or Jamie Foxx’s?”

• Noticing the way that one of the students was rubbing off negatively on the other students, on staff member said, “That boy is a CANCER.” The student overheard what she said and responded, “I ain’t no cancer… I’m a Capricorn!”

• During bus dismissal…
Teacher: “Excuse me, do you ride bus two fifty-eight?”
Student turns around with a neck and eyeroll… “NO.. I ride bus two-FIVE-eight!”

• Payment plan?
Student: “I’ma sell enough weed to pay for my college intuition”

• One of the little 9th grade kids came up requesting his internship check in ‘all ones’
Teacher: “Now, why do you want it in all ones?”
Student: *In his high-pitched voice, while throwing both hands in the air over his head* “So I can make it raaaaaaain on them bitchesssss”

• A student was looking for a staff member and finally found them and said:
Student: “Where you was at to be fount?”
Teachers: “HUH?! What did you say??!”
Student: “Ohhhhh… My bad. Where you was at to be foouuunnddd-DAH”

Download YahZarah’s “Why Dontcha Call Me No More”

I took an overnight trip to Raleigh, NC in late December armed with just a change of clothes, a few toiletries, and my bass guitar. The mission: Play on a couple of joints for YahZarah’s new album The Ballad Of Purple St. James. Phonte picked me up from the airport, we made a couple of stops before heading right over to SoundPure Studios to meet up with Yahz and guitarist/engineer Chris Boerner. I had already done my homework on the joints, learned all the changes and nuances in hopes to knocking um out in a single take… Drummer Lil’ John Roberts walked in and was ready to work… BUT, first things first, we ordered some sammiches, ate, and we were finally ready to go. John cut his drum parts first and was ridiculously on-point – Hell, the brotha has already worked with a who’s who of kats, including regularly touring with the one and only, Janet Jackson. I was next up on the bass… A couple of takes later, it was knocked out.

Editing took place throughout most of the night and “Why Dontcha Call Me No More” was born…

Music (Class) Appreciation…

I had a chat with a good friend of mine just last week about how silly it is for people to say things

“Aww man, you don’t know nuthin’ about that!You’re too young to know about that music!”

Exposure and education are two amazing components when applied, aren’t they?I guess if we were too young to know and learn about ‘old’ things, then history would be completely irrelevant, huh?Fortunately, I had the pleasure of being exposed to some excellent music growing up courtesy of my music-loving parents.But even with all of the music that was receiving rotation in my house, I am still getting put on to new older music by groups I’ve never even heard of and even some by very well-known artists.The learning process is one that is never-ending and one that I love and appreciate a great deal.So naturally as a music instructor, one of my main goals is to expose my teenage students to music they may have never heard if not for my class.There are days where I will sit with a class and just listen to music, but in the midst of listening I’ll sneak in an original song that has been sampled and see if the kids catch on to it.I had one of my classes last year so amped up after one of our “sample day” sessions that a couple of them said that they were, “Mad with hip-hop,” to which I had to clear the air by then explaining the art of sampling, why it’s done, and that it has been a part of hip-hop since day one.But these kids are getting exposed to different types of music and becoming much more knowledgeable in regards to the roots of current artists.

One group in particular that I have an extremely easy time exposing to my students is The Temptations.They have a movie about them that the kids have seen at least two or three different times on VH1 or TVOne, their catalog of music is not only classic but in many circles it’s damn near considered to be a standby.Their lyrics are simple, yet catchy, while the music is undeniable – It’s like, if one of their joints comes on and you aren’t singing along, bobbing your head, or at least tapping your foot, I would be forced to place a mirror under your nose to check and see if you are still breathing.I mean, who doesn’t have a favorite Temptations song?It’s no different with my students.I show The Temptations (1998) movie in my class every year whether they have seen it or not simply because they ask me so many questions during the course of the film.It definitely helps my classes feel more connected with not only The Temps’ music, but with their accomplishments and fully established legacy.So the fact that my 4th period came to me last month with the idea of wanting to play and record the 1971 hit “Just My Imagination” wasn’t very surprising to me – Actually, I was more proud of them than anything…


My fourth period class ended up understanding and playing that music so well that the video shown above was presented to the entire school as their “Ode To Motown” assembly for Black History Month.

The craziest thing about Motown music is that it is very deceiving. You listen to a song like The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and you may find yourself saying, “It’s a pop song… very simple.” Wellllll, not the case. Have you ever tried to play that bassline? Matter of fact have you ever analyzed the bassline for The Four Tops’ “Bernadette?!!” Wheeeeew!!! (James Jamerson)… All that to say, my first period class requested to learn how to play “My Girl”… sounds easy enough right? While “My Girl” may sound simple and straight forward, for a couple of kids who just started playing instruments weeks ago, I warned them that it may present a challenge. The piece that leads into the key change where The Temps are singing, “Hey heey heeeeeey!!” and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra brings the strings in is tough on a beginner because of the movements that must be executed on the instrument. But after two weeks of running the song into the ground, I was able to get them in front of the camera for one helluva take…

I think this exposure thing is working out for the better for these kids… Just my humble opinion. We will continue to build in class… and I’ll continue to update.