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.