Devereux Cleo Wallace
August 23, 2010
We have finished two programs in the last two weeks and are taking a break from all but Devereux, where we will continue while attending to administrative duties. The class is really starting to take shape, and there is a sense of permanence and consistency beginning to form. The music is already impressive and is a direct result of many of the students taking great interest production; some are interested in the vocal recording aspect, but understand that in order to get to that point, they must first earn the privilege by arranging an original song. We prefer the students record vocals over original music because the two processes, recording and production/arranging, are unique and offer the opportunity for the students to learn different skills, all the while reinforcing the lessons learned through diligence and labor, that are found in all we do together.
In a meeting with the staff at Devereux, which included the principal and direct supervisor our class, we, together, clarified how important Youth On Record can be as a tool for behavior modification. We have always envisioned the host program using our program as a tool/incentive to further the student's treatment and it is important to us to be an as effective means of change as we possibly can. In fact, this very class, one of our most enthusiastic students came to class and rushed by a staff member, who had just explained to me that this student would be unable to attend due to his behaviors. As the student grabbed the headphones, I explained that this class was a privilege, and that in order to attend, he would have to make better choices throughout the week. As a program, this is exactly what we want to see happen, in the sense that the student immediately associates his choices with certain privileges. We want these students to earn the right to participate, for this is the reality they will likely encounter once they leave treatment.
In the meeting with the staff at Devereux we also discussed how the students in our program would be able to earn high school credit by attending our classes. In order to earn credit, the students would have to attend out class for a total of 3.75 hours a week. This works very well for us, because on of our obstacles in the past has been the short class period. This is something that Devereux has worked very hard, on our behalf, to achieve, and we are most grateful. The other issue that we addressed was solidifying the class roster, which will be done this week, the beginning of the new semester, giving us a total of ten students.
The inspirational video for this week was a video by the hip-hop group, Dead Prez. We chose this video for the following reasons, among others: it demonstrates how music can be a political statement, it demonstrates how a video can be low budget and still very effective as a means to portray an idea, or re-inforce an overall theme, and it demonstrates the ability of effective lyricism as a vehicle for the delivery of a message, or to re-inforce an overall theme. What we are also attempting to do by showing and critiquing these videos, is to make the processes of music making and idea presentation, understood, and therefor accessible. We want the students to believe that they can make their ideas a reality- that they have it within themselves!
One of the students recorded an original song on his guitar. The classroom that is usually set aside for recording was unavailable, so we held the recording sessions in the utility closet/store. This was great because it allowed us to improvise and demonstrated to the students that if there is a will there is often times a way. We make do with what we have, and because our intention is honest and our efforts are consistent, we, together with the many with whom we work, including the students, continue to accomplish many great things.
After the first student recorded his song, two students attempted to record rap vocals over one of the student's original beats. Although they ran up against the clock, they were able to get more than half of the vocals recorded.
It was a great day!!!