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Students and tutors at the Church of the Covenant


Tri-C's Passport Project Entertains and Educates

On November 22, 2003, the Saturday Tutoring Program wrapped up its fall semester with an in-house field trip entitled Move to the Groove, which was presented by Passport Project, an affiliate of Tri-C's Jazz Fest.

With all of the children and tutors seated on the floor in Covenant's dining room, a performer recited the poem, "i live in music" by ntozake shange. The students were mesmerized! Three dancers repeated the whole poem while they moved in ways that expressed what the poem meant to them. The poem began,

i live in music
is this where you live?
i live here in music
i live on c# street
my friend lives on b-flat avenue
do you live here in music . . .

Three musicians added music one instrument at a time. The drummer played a steady beat. Then the electric bass player joined in with deep-sounding rhythms. Finally the saxophone player filled the dining room with colorful notes. As the poem continued,

falls round me like rain on other folks
saxophones wet my face
cold as winter in st. louis
hot like peppers i rub on my lips
thinkin they waz lilies . . .

The musicians went on to explain how blues and jazz developed over time. They asked the students what kinds of music they liked and played samples of their favorite styles. The musicians helped the students understand that there are many different styles of music, but all forms of music have a steady beat—a heartbeat!

Next, the performers showed the students dances from various parts of the world, including step dancing from Ireland, a traditional dance from Ghana, and modern dance from North America. The kids asked the dancers why they were barefoot. They explained that in many cultures, dancers do not wear shoes because they want to feel connected to the Earth.

Then it was time for the kids to move to the music. The dancers showed everyone how to wave, wave, wave, clap; wiggle, wiggle, kick. The students discovered that those same movements seemed very different when they were set to faster or slower music. Their bodies became one with the music like the poem stated,

i got 15 trumpets where other women got hips
& a upright bass for both sides of my heart
i walk round in a piano like somebody
else be walkin on the earth . . .

The students took part in a drumming workshop. The musicians taught them how to play small African drums similar to a djembe. To play a low sound, the kids hit the drums with the palm of their hand. They played a higher sound by striking the edge of the drum with their fingertips. They played in unison and then took turns playing solos. Listening to the teacher's instructions, they worked together to play quietly, loudly, and quietly again. As the poem said,

i live in music
    live in it
        wash in it
i could even smell it
wear sound on my fingers
sound falls so fulla music . . .

In a dance workshop, pairs of students created their own movements to express one line of the poem. After some rehearsal, the students came together in a circle and performed the entire poem, which concluded,

ya could make a river where yr arm is &
hold yourself
    hold yourself in music . . .

For many of the students, music, dance, and poetry are ways for them to express their feelings, find comfort, and have fun while learning.

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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Cleveland, OH 44106