One of the nice things about our gigs at schools is that certain schools invite us back every year to play for one grade. That’s what happens at this Middle School in Berkeley Heights, NJ. We get the new crop of seventh graders and we are comfortable in knowing the school, the drive and the general quality of the student population. So it is with this MS.
We were in the gym with about 200 kids in the small bleachers pulled out. As it turned out, one side was predominately girls and the other side boys. That provided some contrast – the girls were immediately moving together while the boys were conversing among themselves. By the end of the show, though, the kids were actively engaged.
For the first time at this school, there were few teachers in the audience and I usually use them in the course of the show. I had to change a few things and deal directly with the kids.
When we do I Like Peanut Butter as a doo wop tune, I invite four kids to come up, don shades and sing the chorus. I had four good kids up when I noticed one small, challenged girl who had been quite physically engaged during the show. She came up on her own and I naturally brought her into the line on stage. Later in the song, I get each student to sing “I like peanut butter” into my hand-held mike. I saved her for the last and she sang it with a little dance move included. It was simply precious and everyone felt the love. It’s these small surprises that continue to amaze me and keep me open to ‘moment’, and how they focus an entire audience. Bang.
The band has fewer gigs than usual but we maintain a very high quality performance level.