Monday, April 27, 2015
They were from the far east side of town, and we were from the far west. Our lives, our experiences, and our schedules were worlds apart despite the few miles that separated us. It’s not that we couldn’t have been friends; it’s just that our paths would never have crossed. That is, until “The Project,” that cast us all on the same team, transitioned from dream to enactment. Two very different fifth grade worlds were about to collide and in that collision, be called upon to create and then perform a rap depicting the story of our city, our shared story. It was to be a part of a much larger original musical work entitled, “Hometown History,” and was dreamed and written to be shared by children to an audience of all neighbors from all neighborhoods of our hometown. It was to serve as a big affirming hug to a city besieged by violence, unemployment, and fear. It was to be just one step toward building a bridge of hope and trust between neighbors. The first meeting of the fifth graders occurred at the west side school and although the air was filled with a certain amount of tentativeness, a pinch of suspicion, and a good dollop of curiosity, the lengthy laundry list of tasks to be accomplished while together served to quickly focus us all beyond our piddily concerns and doubts. We attended to the business of getting the job done and that demanded immediate cooperative effort; all hands on deck, so to speak. We worked exceedingly hard, we learned, shared, collaborated, laughed, perfected, discussed, fell short, tried again, cheered each other on, applauded ourselves, supported, encouraged, questioned, explained, tried harder, kept practicing, saw progress, high-fived, and, after a couple of hours, enjoyed a pizza lunch together with these precious new friends. The next few weeks were committed to practicing on our own at our respective schools. The second meeting occurred at the east side school, and the air was filled with excitement, anticipation and warmth as we reconvened our awesome fifth grade team. The local news media showed up to capture the joy of this creative team of fifth grade bridge builders as they zealously rehearsed their proud rap, and sang, danced, played, and laughed as all children should and do from every side of town in every town around the globe. Music brought us together. Music brought balm to hometown afflicted with fear and distrust. Music brought laughter, peace, joy and friendship. Music built a bridge of hope and possibility. Music always does. Music levels the playing field and invites each one to play. Music is a universal language that transcends circumstances and disengages exclusivity. Music links us, binds us, welcomes us, and calls us into a shared joy. Why music? Because it heals our hearts and makes us better.
If you, as a parent or a teacher, need sweet, heart-warming original children’s music to bring joy, esprit de corps, and celebration to your family or to your classroom, please visit the Teachers Pay Teachers store, One Arts Infusion Collaborative, to find simple sheet music and mp4 files of seasonal and curricularly-relevant songs.