Monday, March 10, 2014

Chapter One - Out Of The Box for Innovation (Part 2)

This book is both a support for and an explanation of how and why I was compelled to create such a tool, called the Blue Alligator Blues and Other Video Songs for Integrative Learning, as a way to reinvent and incorporate my past experiences as a teacher with a “new” way of presentation in order to meet the needs of students in an inner city after-school program.

I was a retired teacher, minister, and business owner and sixty-five years old when the phone call occurred. I was being invited to come “down to the club” and take advantage of an opportunity to share my love for music with their children. I said that I would think about it . I actually did think about it for more than two weeks and then I made the decision that I was too young to be done (with working) and old enough to not worry (about my personal fears) - so, I entered the world of Midtown. It changed my life!

This was the inner city. It was a part of town that I had never even driven through. I was both anxious and filled with anticipation as I hiked up the steep front steps to enter the unique building set on a busy street and surrounded by shops like “Lorene’s Fried Fish”. I had taken the path less travelled and was about to embark on an adventure beyond anything that I could imagine.

The building was teeming with children of all ages and there was an incessant booming of deep electronic sounds and vibrations (ostensibly from a music recording studio) that reverberated off the cement walls. Girls in leotards and ballet shoes dipped in and out of the one girl’s bathroom and older children literally ‘hung’ out in the dark recesses of this strange physical structure which was a renovated Quonset Hurt, complete with corrugated steel semi-circular roof set upon a cement block foundation. There were no windows even though one million dollars had been spent in renovation to convert this building for the children’s program. During the 1940’s the facility had been a historically significant theater that featured famous traveling musicians and actors for the black community. There was one cavernous space which had originally served as the performance venue and now resembled a dark cafeteria with a wall of stairs that served as seats along one wall and a small stage on the opposite side. There was a dance studio with mirrors and movable bars, the recording studio, and two other smaller rooms. The smallest was referred to as “the music studio” and there was a broken drum set residing in the middle and an old upright piano against one wall. The cavernous room in the rear was connected to the front entrance by long hallways that ran the length of the building. It was not an accommodating environment.

Click to Read Part 1 of Chapter One
Click to Read Part 3 of Chapter One

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