We can hardly wait until school is finished for the day because it is time for Miss April’s After-School Music Emporium. We have to be at least in the fourth grade and as old as the sixth grade to participate.
We have to have signed permission slips from our parents to be enrolled in Miss April’s after-school music program. But even after we hand in our
permission slips, it still doesn’t mean we’ve been accepted by Miss April.
She makes us sign a contract (and our parents have to sign it, too)! We never had a class where we had to sign a contract! She says she doesn’t want students in her class who are not committed to the group effort, and committed to learning.
She’s a cool teacher who knows all the groups we listen to, but she doesn’t let us get by with any “shananigans” in her class. She says music is a gift, and we have to work to develop the gift. If we break our contract with her, we’re out of the class.
We learn to sing blues, jazz, and songs from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Our
favorite music is from Motown, though. We have four choreographers: two
boys and two girls. They get to make up all the dance steps we do.
Some of us were shy about dancing, but Miss April says music is for the
whole body. She asks us how many girls would be screaming for Ricky
Martin if he didn’t move while he was singing? And what about N’Sync, The
BackStreet Boys, or Hannah Montana? OK, OK, we get the message!
She makes us pound out rhythms, read treble and bass clef notes, learn about quarter rests, dotted notes, and dynamics. Every class one of the students has to stand up and sing the song they have written. They must
start with the rhythm, and we pick it up, then they must sing the music and words they have written. We do some hiphop songs, some blues songs (mostly about our parents who won’t let us stay out late), and jazz songs. She also makes us “collaborate”. That means we have to work in groups on one song.
She brings tapes and CDs for us to listen to. Her favorite is Della Reese (from “Touched By An Angel”) singing lues songs. She met Della when both of them were entertainers, and she says no one can sing the blues like Della! She teaches us to put feeling into what we sing. She calls it “ringing every bit of moisture out of that note.”
She’s not afraid to dance around, either! (She says she’s over 350 years old in “dog years,” so if she can dance, so can we!) She makes us forget how self-conscious we are, and we are having fun before we even know it.
Miss April says anyone can write a song, and she proves it to us by helping us with our songs. When she was 14, she wrote a song that was recorded by some big singing star, so she doesn’t accept any excuses.
She says the voice is the best instrument you can play. She says God gave it to us for free, we don’t have to pack it up and carry it anywhere, and we can do things with our voices that no one else can do with their instruments. She’s really serious about it!
We understand it is a privilege to be in Miss April’s class. She makes us feel like we’re just as good as the high school kids. We’re glad the PTA brought her to our school so we can learn to be special people: performers.
Last year the winners of the song-writing contest were Paul and Erin. Erin did beat-boxing while Paul burped the melody. It was way cool! They even got their pictures in the newspaper and got to perform at the High School. This year we all want to win with the songs we write!
Miss April is way cool for someone over 30!
(c) 2000-2008 April Lorier