Black History as Seen Through Music

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This project once again features ‘Hurricane’ Andrew Larsen a talented blues pianist dedicated to working with kids. Together we set out to develop a historical timeline from Blues through Jazz to contemporary music and the influences each era spoke to. Andrew is an old time piano player in that he can adapt to almost any piano. When he sits down at the keys he can immediately correct for anything out of tune. And in my portable, we had an old honky-tonk piano. The finish had been stripped off and it sat on a back porch for a couple years. But Andrew made it sound sweet.

Prior to his visit, the students in small groups reproduced a series of USPS stamps based on Black Heritage. The stamps were projected on large poster paper and students penciled them onto the poster. Then they colored them in. These served as the teaching tools and visuals for the performance.

Following a prepared script – narrated by Andrew’s uncle who also visited – Andrew walked us through the evolution of music from slave ‘call and response’ to blues, gospel, N Orleans, ragtime, spread of jazz, and the influence blues had on rock ‘n roll.

While I’m proud of the musician poster we made, having the music come alive through Andrew’s performance enriched the history immensely. The quality of the presentation was such that I thought it should be “Takin’ on the road”.

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