Devereux Cleo Wallace
We are in the practice now of working hard on Mondays, and then Tuesdays having a lesson. This week was no exception. Four students recorded on Monday on two songs, meaning that each was a collaboration! The students who are recording are under time constraints, and up to now, have not wasted a single moment. A fifth student recorded on Tuesday, an original composition for guitar. We are consistently surprised at the quality of work from this group- each student bringing something unique to enrich our experience. Each are approaching difficult subjects with enthusiasm and determination, and are demonstrating the ability to learn quickly and apply what they have just leaned to the task before them.
We began Monday's lesson with a chapter from, The Dao of Wu, by the RZA, of the Wu-Tang Clan. The RZA produced much Wu-Tang's music and was influential in defining the East Coast sound in hip-hop. This book is a chronicle of lesson's learned by the RZA and brings together wisdom acquired via the many adverse situations and environments in which he found himself, many if which contributed to his successes. The chapter we read was named "The Island, a Parable of Solitude," in which the RZA comments on how living on Stanten Island, away for the other New York boroughs, was a blessing that he took advantage of- the distance and isolation from all that was New York allowing him, and the others of Wu-Tang, to cultivate a totally unique approach to music. We likened what the RZA had to say to the situation these students found themselves in. Being in residential treatment, the students are much like the RZA of Staten Island, in that they are removed from society in general, and have an opportunity to develop a unique sense of self, if they so choose.
Our inspirational video was a dub-step song on Monday, and a drum solo by Neal Pert, of Rush, on Tuesday. Dub-step has been a keen interest of some of the students recently, due to the underground popularity and newness of the style.
Because our lesson, this week, was to make a drum beat using one-shots cut form a single drumbeat sound wave/sample, it made sense to show the variety by which one can approach beat making, hence the second video. The students were asked to cut one-shots (a single hit of a drum, for example, one hit of the bass drum or one hit a hi-hat) from a full drum beat, then they were asked to rearrange those one-shots into a beat all their own. Lastly, the students were asked to make three variations of the original beat. Then, and only then, were the students free to work on their personal projects.
All succeeded in varying degrees, and we are most encouraged by ability of these kids to work together and try something new each time they come to class. Not all finished their assignment, but all put in hard work. And it is this hard work, this facing the task frustrated but motivated, this not giving up when the fun had ceased, this eye on the not yet tangible but believable, it is this that endures throughout our time together, and it is this which insures our successes. There were many smiles and hi-fives, and we look forward to what the future may bring!!!