Mad Hot Classroom

...just posted on 1015 about Mad Hot Ballroom, a documentary about ballroom dancing in NYC public schools.

Now I'm curious about contributors' experiences with music in a classroom environment and how those experiences affected the rest of your schooling and life after school... basically, did you take any type of courses dealing with music? When? Why? How long? Still play? Anything... Please share in the comments.


Blogger Marta said...

i'm reminded of my childhood suzuki cello classes with professor's wives in birkenstocks with their unusually named children (me included) and any other registered democrat living in az at that time. I enjoyed naming my cello "rhonda" and the way the sun would shine on 12 cellos in the same room on a saturday morning. I hated getting charged 25 cents for every finger nail i didn't trim by my teacher who was a bit of a sadistic and of course an overworked grad student who then would administer the nail clippers zealously.

4:25 PM, May 17, 2005  
Blogger jess said...

I was deprived a musical education as a child, but dance, that happened for me. I started when I was 10 (like those kids in Mad Hot....I saw the movie, btw, and truly loved it), it was a typical dance school, not in my public elementary school, but it definitely set the path for me later on in life. I went to art school as a dance major, I became much more confident was able to take criticism despite my shyness in school (I shocked everyone by performing in the talent show...they didn't know I had it in me), and I realized my love for music because that is what inspired me to dance in the first place. I learned to deal with others judging me and am very comfortable performing on stage.

8:46 PM, May 17, 2005  
Blogger mary said...

I went to sign up for drums in junior high but they wouldn't let girls play drums so they sent me to the orchestra and gave me a violin and ever since then I've been unable to play anything with more than four strings.

however, our slightly-deranged orchestra teacher did introduce me to the joys of KLEZMER. for which I am forever grateful.

11:17 PM, May 17, 2005  
Blogger george said...

I tried to learn saxophone in 5th grade, but at the time I was more interested in pretending it was an exotic gun than actually playing it. Sigh...boys will be boys.

Later in junior high I joined the Chorus and loved it. Of course we sung a lot of cheesy musical theater pieces like "Memories" and "All I Ask Of You", but our chorus instructor Mr. Volpe also snuck in a lot of really cool shit. We learned all these amazing obscure choral pieces from the 17th century, but the best was singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" every year for our Christmas concert. I got to conduct it my senior year and I consider it one of the highlights of my musical life.

By the way, I also saw Mad Hot Ballroom and it was sooo good. SEE IT NOW.

8:04 AM, May 18, 2005  
Blogger d said...

in elementary school we had a remedial type intro to music class taught by a red faced man who handed us all recorders. I believe I made a fool of myself by being really into it. then in 5th grade, I started taking cello lessons. when they weren't offered in school anymore I started attending the prep program at mannes college of music in nyc. I was certainly the worst cellist in the history of that school. I was outplayed by 4 year olds who could barely speak but were somehow capable of playing vivaldi. I kept that up all through high school as well as doing glee club (we were more highbrow than show tunes). I think, that like anything that's taught, children are at the mercy of their teachers. I don't believe my musical education consisted of being told that I could do it but rather "this is something that is only granted to a select few". perhaps this is why I was a terrible music student, I didn't believe I could be part of such a lofty group.

10:58 AM, May 18, 2005  
Blogger Phil said...

Oddly, though Christina and I never met until 2003, we both performed in the same concert during high school - the New York State Student Music Association's all-county recital. I was playing trombone in the band, and she was singing in the chorus. She made it on to all-state. Not me though.

Anyway, look where it's gotten us now: screaming and jumping around with the devil's music.

12:07 PM, May 18, 2005  
Blogger Tavie said...

Me and sis took violin lessons, along with the boy who lived downstairs, starting at age 4. Suzuki classes at Brooklyn College. I kept with it until I was 9, but Kirsten dropped out by kindy-garten. I was easier to boss around, so they could actually make me practice. But I hated it.

Piano I started in kindergarten and managed to stick with that until age 11 or so. Again, the practicing. I don't think I had much of a knack for either, or I would've absorbed more.

I'm glad I can read music (slooooowly and painstakingly) and I loved my teachers, and every now and then I dust off Siggerson, the old violin, and screech along to tv commercials and to drown out Andie MacDowell's voice in those shampoo commercials. But a musician I ain't, and never shall I be.

8:25 PM, May 18, 2005  
Blogger Tavie said...

But the best classroom experience with music was our junior high music teacher, Mr Rosenberg, who taught us the Beatles, Crosby Stills and Nash, Harry Nilsson, Simon and Garfunkel, and others of that ilk. He made us memorize lyrics and quizzed us on subjects such as "What year was Simon and Garfunkel's concert in Central Park?" and "Fill in the blanks: "Picture yourself on a ________ near a _______ where rocking-horse _______ eat ________ pies"...

My favourite unit was the time we spent a week studying the "Paul is Dead" phenomenon. And every music class ended with us all screaming along to "Frank Mills" from "Hair".

8:28 PM, May 18, 2005  
Blogger punk ass g said...

Played the cello in the third grade until I dropped it. Not like "dropped it in order to play softball," literally dropped it. On the floor in my living room. The long end broke off from the base and I was sure I was going to be expelled or shot or something befitting such a horrible offense. To her credit, Mrs. Lyman, looked at the pathetic remnants the next day and said something like "oh," in a way akin to someone seeing a pancake shaped like Elivs. She actually managed to glue the cello back together, but I soon lost the faith and switched to the clarinet.

Played the clarinet for three years. I was bad. My band leader in middle school, Mr. Schneider, was a bastard so I quit. Mr. Schneider was also my teacher one year in Exploring Music. He got mad one day when he thought I wasn't paying attention (I was actually copying down something he had written on the blackboard), and grabbed a folding chair and held it up to my face. I didn't feel much like exploring music after that.

12:42 PM, May 20, 2005  

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