These inner city camps are hard, but I enjoy the challenge. I feel the cultural divide acutely, me being an old white guy, and mostly everyone else young and black. I try to connect through the music, my humor and accessibility and my bag of instruments.
Today I had two sets, the first with the younger kids. Even though there are a few kids who aren’t willing to join in, or unwilling to do the silly stuff, I get them involved as best I can. Eventually we connect using tunes like We Gave Names, Peanut Butter, Giants, etc.
The older kids are tougher and I can’t rely on my little kids jive, so I called on doing My Girl, with hand motions, male/female singing on the chorus, etc. I used this one right up front and early. It worked. I handed out tambourines and maracas, gave them two techniques of play (beat and shake…), we did some exercises with different rhythms and then did I Heard It Through the Grapevine with them. Some good workshop stuff that engaged them as mature folks as well as worked on the ‘sound’ of the group’, getting them to listen to what we made. It was a good way to dig deeper, control the sound (only two instruments) and interact.
It was two solid sets and I found my T-shirt soaked from the upper room in an old church, a July morning and old-fashioned work. I have two more visits to Trenton this summer and I have some things set in motion for them now.