Friday, September 7, 2012

All week long we've been featuring "Music of the '60's" essays as submitted by the students in the class taught by Forgotten Hits Reader Shelley Sweet-Tufano.  In all, we featured ten entries (Essay #5 had to be eliminated) ... now it's time for you to let us know which one YOU think best explains and describes the music of the '60's.   

I asked Shelley to give us a little more lowdown on her class.  (The topic has come up a number of times over the years in Forgotten Hits ... this time we just decided to capitalize on Shelley's final fifth grade assignment!)

>>>I would LOVE to teach a class like that.  Hey, maybe Forgotten Hits could write the book on the curriculum?!?!?  (kk)
Do not laugh about writing curriculum. It could happen. School starts tomorrow, and I had a professional development day today where I ended up at my school in the afternoon. Awaiting me were parents and parent requests to get their kids in my class. I don't have a 'class'. My primary assignment is working with high potential autistic students in natural classroom settings. It is an intense program so each of the three of us only has two students apiece. If they need extra instruction in math, reading, writing; there is a fourth of us who "pulls them out" of class and they meet in my (our) classroom for that. Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy are sometimes added to their day as well as Social Skills for 45 minutes each day. It is during these pull-out times that teachers have requested I take one or more of their reading groups and "do my thing" with the 20th Century Music in reading program. I have five different teacher requests so far to fill a possible two hours a day slot. Kent, I think we need our own school. My principal, librarian, 3 music teachers, and 8 regular education teachers say if I go, they are coming too. Looks like we have a good start. hahahahaha ... perchance to dream!

I also asked Shelley to elaborate on the make-up of her class ... how are kids (at the fifth grade level) eligible to attend.  Etc, etc, etc.  I also encouraged her to let the children (and their families) who wrote these essays know that we would be running them on our website ... it might be something they'd like to save in their own scrapbook.  (Think about ... Forgotten Hits has become regarded as an expert source on '60's music ... and, with nearly two million website visitors, and countless deejays and recording artists on the list, we offer a pretty valuable and unique perspective on this musical era.)  How cool is it to think that one of these kids' essays got published on our site?!?!?  I mean, it's really pretty awesome!!!  And I wanted to be sure she let them know that they could find these here.

Here is a bit more information that she shared with us:

"Shelley, are you working in Monica's room this year? My daughter is in there and I wanted her to have you for reading. She would LOVE you for reading."

"Well, I only have fourth graders this year so I don't know if I'll be in 5th grade at all this year."

"Oh no! I wanted my daughter to have you this year. She would just love having you."

What a great way to start out a school year. This was just a few days ago and I have some good news for this parent. I am working out a way to work with her daughter's fifth grade teacher again this year. This is just one example of the FUN created in learning by incorporating music into curriculum. How did it start? I work with special education and learned long ago that even though we could not memorize "Paul Revere's Ride", we could SING the Raiders song at the top of our lungs and use the information to "Ace" a test. Add to that mix two principals (one who has gone on to become Assistant Superintendent of Schools) who supported me and basically told me there was nothing I was not capable of; and an idea with meager beginnings transforms into a full-fledged SRO program. What do we do? We add reading, in the form of "Music in the 20th Century", to History, in the form of topical songs that help to explain the "flavor" of the time, and even to math to remember formulas and equations. The two sentences my students hear all year is "Everything goes better with music" and "I've got a song for that!"

The reading program starts in the "Double Decades" of 1900-1920 and progresses to the current time. A background of instruments from different cultures that play a role in the development of cultural styles starts us off and then we hit the ground running! We read, mark timelines, get info about the culture involved in that decade, listen to music from the time, and watch videos. Documentaries, Concerts, Interviews -- as much first-hand information as I have been able to hunt and bring in, along with accounts from witnesses, and other writers. We take notes, keep a loose-leaf notebook that we constantly add to and take quizzes and write essays. How do I choose students? I don't. They seem to choose me with the help of their teachers. They might be included to give them enrichment opportunities. They might be chosen as a "bribe". (You cannot attend my class if you are behind in your work) They might have parents/family who are rich in the arts. They might....oh who knows?? There are many reasons a child is chosen. Good news, however, is that I also do whole group lessons from time to time so that everyone may participate. There is so much more to say and explain, but let's stop here with one last thought: The feelings and thoughts expressed in the essays come from each individual's heart and mind.
A parting thought for my students: The time I have spent with you is priceless and I will miss each of you. Just remember: You CAN make a difference. You MUST make a difference.
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano

In this day and age when "the arts" seem to be the first programs to go when schools evaluate their budget and teaching needs, I'd LOVE an opportunity like this to help further the education of interested students regarding the music of our lives in the 20th Century ... as it pertains to the rock and roll era. 

VH1 has been doing their "Save The Music" campaign for years now ... raising donations to help support the music and the arts in schools across the country. 

As we've all seen time and time again, music is the savior for so many of our spiritual, cultural and emotional needs ... the power of music should NEVER be underestimated. And exposing new generations to the feel-good music that we grew up with is paramount to this process. Sure, every decade had its own impact and influence ... but the music of the '60's was the most innovative of any time ... and it's every bit as strong and powerful today. Growing up then, we all believed ... and I mean TRULY believed ...that  we could change the world ... and ultimately we did ... maybe not exactly the way we planned or the way we thought we would ... and maybe not necessarily always for the better ... but there's been no music that has ever even come close to this creative and prolific period.  Good, timeless music, yes ... life-changing music?  Maybe more than you ever even realized.  

Shelley Sweet-Tufano teaches at Meadowside Elementary School, located on the Connecticut coastline, about halfway between Bridgeport and New Haven.  Thank you so much for sharing your students' essays with our readers.  

Now let's pick a winner and send them a '60's CD compilation! (kk)