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A Plug & A Thought.....


Dr. J
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THE THOUGHT :

There's been a lot of talk lately about the state of live music...most of it negative...poor draws...venues closing...bands quitting etc. there are many reasons (social/financial/musical etc)for this and no easy answers, but, as a long time educator, I have to believe part of it is that we don't teach (hook?) our kids early enough on the beauty of great music...live and recorded. When I was growing up in Kingston (a helluva long time ago), there was a live band (or 2) at a different high school every week. Who was coming where was a topic of hot discussion & sure some folks went for reasons other than the music, but for many of us it was where we developed a life-long appreciation of live music. And we're not talking just local bands, but some of the country's best bands at the time...Lighthouse, The Guess Who etc. To this day, some of the hottset shows I've ever witnessed were Canada's original punks the Ugly Ducklings ripping the roof off a school gymnasium.

In the schools where I've worked, live music was not the norm (except for the odd Xmas assembly or Battle of the Bands). Dances were DJ's and Video and that's not a financial decision. High school dances are money makers. Student Councils think nothing of plunking down $1200 for a video dance. Raised on MTV, it's what they know...cookie-cutter songs & disposable pop stars, but it doesn't have to be that way. i'm not suggesting that bands start rushing out to do high school dances, but get involved. In my last school, the traditional music progarm had been expanded to include guitar courses, and courses that included all aspects of music... history, performing, recording, promoting , songwriting etc etc. All of these involved artists from the community! What's the school where you live or work doing? Talk to them! We need to reach our young people. We can't ignore them and then wonder where they are when they turn 19. Don't know...just a thought.

THE PLUG :

On Sat. Nov 27 the Spades will play an all ages show in Perth. The show is being organized by a group of young people(in conjunction with the town). Money raised will go towards skateboard equipment for the local park. Opening the night will be some of the kids themselves. And believe me they are talented and sh!t crazy excited. Sure they could have sold chocolate bars or held a raffle but what a lost opportunity that would have been ...for everyone. I would encourage The Spades (and I do...my son's in the band) to work with young people whenever the opportunity arises and I would encourage other artists to do the same. It's an investment that will benefit us all.... OK someone kick the gd soapbox....

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hey Dr. J - good thoughts.

the highschool i went to (in b.c.) had a solid music department, and i was active in a few of the ensembles... but as far as initiating a transition between orchestra, jazz band, etc. and getting a group of friends together to play music of our own choosing... well, that didn't happen much at all. the live music scene was not talked about at my school, i had a couple friends outside of my school that got me into going to punk shows, cause that's all that was happennign for the youth.

i totally agree wiuth your tyhoughts though - introducing students to live performance other than 'concert band' and 'orchestra' rehearsals is a great idea. unfortunately my school gave the impression that you've gotta be in business or science or you're nothing. music was a nice pastime, but not to be taken too seriously. i wish that hadn't been the case.

blah blah

anyway, that show in perth sounds like a great idea - i hope they get a good turnout and build a kickin skate park!

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Sorry cc can't help you with the drum lessons, but you're looking for the right person. Been nights I've watched Winchester lay down an absolute clinic on those things. Actually my son, James, plays guitar.

Thanks also for your comments, Moose. It's a topic I feel strongly about. We spend millions & millions & millions of dollars in this province to force our kids thru standardized tests each year that accomplish dick-all, but we can't find the money to provide them with working musical instruments to learn how to play music or adequate equipment to learn how to properly record it. Part of the problem is educational (in tough economic times, the Arts budget is usually the first to take a kickin') and part of the problem is musical (in Canada the 4 major music companies control most of the music our kids hear,see and buy and of course most of it is a complete sham...Ashlee Simpson???). Obviously I'm not the first person to recognize this...Ottawa has introduced a successful Blues in the Community program, and a large chunk of the money raised last Sept by The Hip, The Sadies, The Spades etc etc went to the musical lending library in Kingston which provides instruments and lessons to under-priviledged children. Some may recall producer Bob Ezrin's (Pink Floyd etc) talk at last year's Juno's. Things can change which is why I encourage our musicians not to forget about our young people. You know the old cliche about being our future yadda yadda yadda....

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ok, so now moose and I are having a Spades debate

are you thee dad who lit a fire in an old drum !? hehe

she says it was written about some kid who was on an arson kick around these parts, but it sounds so much like a personal story

btw...i too love to burn things ::

i'm the guy who sits at the back of the bar waving my hand in the air everytime they end the night with that tune.

wish i had caught the show last night too

see ya out there sometime

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Dr. J,

As a high school teacher and a live music lover, I very much support what you are saying.

When I was in high school, many of the school dances had bands playing. Unfortunately, I think that with live bands came some problems and issues for school administrators ... band "groupies" and older fans showing up at school dances was one of the issues for sure. Personally I don't think that this is necessarily a problem and it certainly could be managed in a positive way, but many school administrators are uncomfortable with a bunch of older people showing up at a school dance. This becomes an even bigger problem if the people are drunk or high.

It is very disappointing and frustrating for me to see how much money gets shelled out for DJ's at school dances, but school adminstrators like DJ's for the same reason that many clubs and people in general like DJ's ... they know exactly what they are getting. It's low risk, and unfortunately it's what most young people are used to hearing.

I have and will continue to try and expose high school students to live music, and some day may find the time and energy to make it happen even more. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day ...

Peace, Mark

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Indeed i am the Dad who lit a fire in an old drum. The part about a friend lighting a farmer's field on fire is also true, as was our concern for James when he adopted rock & roll as his religion in high shool. Now let me tell you about the shed that stood in the field....hehehe :: Thanks for the invite,Moose, but living in Perth we seldom get to a MoHo show, sad to say. When we have it's been incredible. I've seen this band in large venues, with huge crowds, but it's not the same as a Friday night at the MoHo. The dynamic between band & crowd there. It's what live music is all about! ;)This year, New Year's Eve is a Friday nite and I think the boys are planning a rock & roll welcome for 2005. I'll be there. Maybe see some folks then.

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when i was in elementary school the highschool band (small rural canada childhood) would go around to all the local schools around christmas and play carold and cool songs...the band was definitely the cool thing to do when you were in school. it for sure helped.

i mean come on...how can kids NOT love james brown instead of class?? we played (and heard) 'i feel good' and many other non james brown songs...cool times.

that's all it takes...and that helps the highschool students have fun and get out into the community and gain confidence.

way cheaper than standardized testing.

when the boomers are all out kids will really get to learn.

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I have and will continue to try and expose high school students to live music, and some day may find the time and energy to make it happen even more. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day ...

Hi Mark

Great to know there are people like yourself out there who have a passion & appreciation for quality music and who are working with the kids. I'm sure your enthusiasm alone has an effect on them...probably more than you know. Each of us does what we can...keep the faith & keep on rockin'

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"Each of us does what we can...keep the faith & keep on rockin' "

Right back at you Dr. J!

And I just went to neroland to read one of Velvet's nero logs ... here's part of one that he wrote about nero playing at my high school at lunch a couple of years ago:

"... so we agreed to come to his high school and play a set during their lunch hour in the music room. Caffienated and somewhat presentable, we got to school about twenty minutes late (some things never change) and got some kids to help us load in. It was a classic high school music room; carpeted with a stereo and the same old posters that hang on thousands of music rooms around the world. Quickly set up with no PA and were ready to start with the lunch bell as the cue to begin. Beep (is there a school in the western world that still uses a bell?). And they’re off! The energy and sound level of lunch time at school is akin to a small nuclear explosion, and this time the blast had a soundtrack. The room soon filled up, and the guys played a solid hour of fine music. It’s funny, most of the kids seemed to really dig it, but you had to look pretty close to see it. If there is anywhere in the world were it is crucial to be cool (I learned too late…) it’s in high school. And cool means not visibly rocking out within the confines of the school walls during daylight hours. Not even if a good band is rocking their faces off eight feet in front of you. All of the teachers that showed up were bobbing and tapping. Shows how cool they are. Mid-set Jay asked if anyone had any questions on what it was like trying to make a living as an independent touring musician, and of course there was no takers. At the end of the set a bunch of kids crowded around and stared at us while we tore down and asked Dave gear questions and stuff. Got some kids out of class to help us load and we bid “Mr. Tonin” farewell with many thanks. Really fun way to start the day."

-----

It was a very positive experience from my perspective, and definitely made an impression with some students ... one of them actually brought it up with me last week.

Time to get back to some marking ... :(

Peace, Mark

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