We are in full swing, at capacity at all of our schools, and steadily implementing our lesson plans. The students are remarkable, picking up the program with surprising ease, the youngest group being no exception.
We began the week at Devereux Cleo Wallace, introducing the first of three lyrics classes. The students were introduced to a couple of different rhyme schemes, ABAB and ABBA, and their assignment was to write lyrics using each. Afterward, the students took turns on the microphone saying the lines that they had just written. It was an impressive display of ingenuity and confidence, with almost all of the students participating. Once all the students had had their turn on the microphone, the session continued with the students free-styling until class time was over. The room was electric with excitement and promise. It was the first time many of the students had used a microphone in the class, and it seemed to empower those who stepped up. Many of the students in this group have recorded each week, and we are noticing great improvement in their cadence and eloquence. It was the first week for a few students, and their acclamation to the class has been greatly helped by those already participating. We, as an organization, have always hoped that the senior students would assume leadership roles, but this group has done so without prompts on our behalf. Whats more, is that the new students, with this direction, are already making some impressive music.
A couple other neat things transpired this week at Devereux: one, we began a dialogue regarding censorship and the rights of the students to say what they want. At Youth On Record, we are committed to working under the specific guidelines of each of the host facilities, yet, we are also committed to creating a space in which the students are able to express themselves honestly. Because we encourage the students to record lyrics, often times prior to lessons on lyrical content, there are times that they say things that perhaps may be offensive to those who are unaware of the context of our program. More often than not, the students, once the subject of censorship arises, will censor themselves, yet this is also an opportunity to explore these issues, not only with the students, but with all of our partner artists at Youth On Record and Flobots.org. We, in lieu of a lesson for next week, will have a class discussion with this group of students, exploring the topic of censorship. We will then take what we have learned from the students and incorporate our findings into the discussion we will have the following day at our staff meeting, regarding the same subject. Then, we can bring our conclusions to each of the programs we work with, thereby formalizing our efforts into policy.
On Monday night we had our third lesson with the Savio House. These students were able to finish, or almost finish, their first group of song,s which they were then able to burn with the hopes of possibly recording lyrics next week. This group is a lot of fun and we look forward to continue working with this group. Our youngest group, in many ways, is the most impressive, we think, due to their age. We believe that this is because they are yet to be defined by a particular social group, and therefor open to all possibilities musically. The students at the Shiloh House are picking up a very complicated program, with relative ease. Each burned a CD at the end of class. They were stoked, and it was a great way to end the week!