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Rock 'n' roll class has a distinctly academic tone

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Rock 'n' roll class has a distinctly academic tone

Post by Admin on Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:34 pm

Rock 'n' roll class has a distinctly academic tone

Nov 03, 2012 (The Arizona Daily Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)

Rey Vasquez's students gathered around a long conference table in their classroom as the teacher prepared a video to play on the class's laptop.

The side conversations and distractions during class ceased when Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video began playing on the computer.

Their excitement increased as the video played, with Vasquez intermittently giving background information on its origins and contribution to the music-video genre.

The students' excitement dampened a bit when, after watching three more Halloween-themed music videos, Vasquez assigned them to write a critical analysis on each video while jokingly reminding them that "assignments are fun." Assignments on music videos are the norm for the students, who are attending a Rock and Roll History class at Eastpointe High School, an east-side charter school.

The class is part of a pilot program that allows the students to learn the evolution of rock 'n' roll and how it influences other genres such as rap and pop music.

The class, which began this semester and counts as an elective credit for graduation, also helps students analyze how songs and albums are made and arranged.

They also learn other aspects of the music industry, such as artist development, marketing and sales, management and stage production.

"This class has introduced them to the roots of their music," Vasquez said.

One week, the class studied The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, culminating with a listening party.

On another day, they watched Ice-T's hip-hop documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap." At the end of Wednesday's class, Vasquez played guitar while a student sang the Beatles' "Oh! Darling." The course combines lectures, written assignments, projects and, of course, videos.

Despite any temporary moaning and groaning about the homework, the students are willing to do the assignments.

"When I hear anything about music, I jump on it," said Theodore Roberson, 17, a senior.

Vasquez learned about the pilot program after searching the Internet for music education material, he said.

He came upon across the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, which was created by Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

"They were looking for schools willing to teach some of the curriculum," he said. "At first, they were looking at middle schools, but I kept bugging them." Vasquez not only teaches, but also plays guitar and once played in a local band called "The Little Kings." His students attend the class for different reasons, with some who want to pursue music and others who take the course for fun.

Roberson plays drums for a band outside of school.

"Not many people really think about the history of music too much. It's good to have a class that throws you into it," he said.

Britain Hackeborn, 16, has recorded music in a studio and performed at venues around Tucson.

She attends Eastpointe because the school's flexible schedule allows time to pursue her acting and modeling goals.

Hackeborn, a junior, said she eventually wants to perform on the television talent show "X-Factor." "It's a good class. You learn to use your creative side," she said. "It teaches you to listen to music, not just hear it." On StarNet: See more photos at azstarnet.com/gallery School show What: Eastpointe High School will host its "Music Fest 2012." The event will feature performances from students who attend the school's Rock and Roll History class.

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Personal note: I am very pleased to know this is taking place in HS's - I have posted many topics covering the University level studies which are based on MJ however this is the first time I have learned that a HS is offering this type of course utilizing MJ as a study of MJ's genius of composition and process of arrangements and creation of music! This is a good omen for the times to come IMO! We need more positive teaching especially as a curriculum that is truthful and respectful of Michael's true gift to humanity!! Kudos to this faculty!

Michael Jackson transcended our imaginations and continues to uplift our souls and spirits through his tremendously meaningful life well lived.

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