Boots and Cats: An Intro to Beatboxing
One of the very first lessons I do with a new class is something I call “Boots and Cats: An Intro to Beatboxing” where we learn the history of beatboxing, the anatomy of a drum kit, beat patterns, and a sprinkling of mic technique. I love being able to do this with my classes towards the beginning of the semester because it allows us to jump right into making music without any software, theory, instruments etc. It is an engaged way to prove that we do not need any of it to make meaningful noise. That we can put names to the sounds we already innately feel in our bodies as opposed to having to learn the dialect first.
Music is not just for musicians. It is for everyone. It is wildly ubiquitous and being experienced around (and by) us every single day which makes it one of the most consumed mediums within our culture. We also receive messaging about how we are expected to act, feel, exist, and move throughout the world. With that comes the responsibility to recognize its history, intricacies, and power to either oppress or liberate. The democratization of knowledge and information builds pathways for us to connect. To build. To have access to every possible tool to start and finish an emotional process. To heal.
"Lessons we teach in the classroom are always through the lens of music but are never about the music, they are about the lessons we learn in life."
I’ve been primarily a vocalist my whole life and picked up beatboxing as an extracurricular “hobby” one day. I started to watch YouTube videos, I learned about the history and evolution of the art form within hip hop, I learned the beat patterns and figured out what groove really meant. It allowed me to believe that I could be more than just the hook-singer. I tell my students how beatboxing has elevated and shaped me as an artist and as a person. Lessons we teach in the classroom are always through the lens of music but are never about the music, they are about the lessons we learn in life.