Posts Tagged ‘Ukulele’

imageAre look for a great holiday gift? Perhaps a great family activity? Consider taking ukulele lessons on the Palladium stage at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana. For just $27.50 you can enjoy 3 one hour lessons filled with great information, music and fun. Dozens of folks have attended and they just keep coming! Beginning Monday, December 2 we will meet for three Mondays. Ukulele 101 (beginner) will meet at 6:00 and Ukulele 103 (advanced beginners) at 7:15. You will need to bring your own uke. This class is offered for mid teens and adults. For more information email 50littlebirds@gmail.com

Registration information is available at http://www.thecenterfortheperformingarts.org

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That Tiki Thing


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From the current issue of TravelIN.

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I’ve been working with Traditional Arts Indiana for many, many years–performing, running workshops and demonstrating.  This Thursday I will be joining my daughter, Hannah Davis and Traditional Arts Indiana intern, to talk about social networking.

My initial reaction, when approached to do this, is that I’m no expert in social media.  Upon reflection I do have something to talk about.  I’ve been networking with traditional artists since I began writing letters to wooden boatbuilders in the late 1970s.  The internet has made these kinds of interactions cheap and immediate.  I’m no expert, but I do have something to share.

From the Traditional Arts Indiana website:

Social Networking for Artists and Performers: Developing and Maintaining an Online Presence

Want to use social media — sign up for a Facebook page, begin to tweet, start a blog — to promote your work, but don’t quite know how? Feel like what you’re already doing isn’t quite enough? Join TAI and Hamilton County artist and social networking afficionado Geoff Davis online on April 5 at 4:30 p.m. EDT (UTC−04:00) for our next webinar.

Davis, a woodcarver, musician, and educator, will introduce sites and explain how to use them, describe the best methods for attracting more fans and followers, and explain new opportunities to sell work online. In addition to covering the basics, Davis will also introduce new tools to improve what artists are already doing.

Read the rest of the article here.

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This is a very exciting time for me.

On my not-so-very-good-days I’d say it differently.

I’m scared as hell!

The face of public education is changing.  My job (urban grade 5-6 teacher in a once progressive school) is no longer to inspire and challenge kids. I’ve become part of a test giving data analysis machine.  Once I’ve digested the data I follow (often) pre-prescribed lessons and procedures to plug the holes and raise the scores.  I see no boat building, inflated cities or working hovercraft in the future (These are all projects that I’ve completed in my classrooms at this school).  Much of the joy has left the building.

I was going to teach for five years.  I was going to do something exciting and creative at the end of those five years. (To build wooden boats was the plan then.  It’s still on the list.)

Things happened.  I bought a house and a car.  I married a lovely women with two lovely children.  We had two more. I got stuck. I’ve been teaching 27 years and I have no regrets, but I’m stuck!

This morning I began to plan my way out.  It’s not the first time and probably not the last, but by sharing in a public forum I hope to build a little dialog and some accountability.

Jim Eck, a ukulele and carving student and friend, and I exchanged a few messages yesterday.  We were sharing a bit about being stuck.  He ended his last message with, “You have such amazing talents.”

I’ve heard this stuff before.  Three hundred and fifty years of Quaker heritage make these kinds of statements roll off my back.  This time it didn’t.  It was what I needed to hear — an unintentional pep-talk. (Thanks Jim!)

So this morning I began to really examine these talents.  Along with the Quaker thing, I’ve a very informal approach to learning and teaching so I don’t often give my “amazing skills” the importance and weight that I should.  They seem to just be things that I’ve picked up along the way.  I also carry a very old load of weight from a grandfather and a father (both engineers and both named Keith Davis)  that completely discounted most of my skills and talents.  (My father once told me that I wouldn’t understand my parents’ failing marriage because I was only a teacher.)

An older teaching friend (and wise sage) tried to convince me of the value of my skills many times.  I always shrugged and blushed a lot and went right on my way.  (Hazel, you’ve always been right.)

Anyway, I began cataloging talents this morning.  I didn’t get far.  I listed a few that are particularly strong and that I do better than most folks.  There are others.

I then focused on three, ukulele playing and building and carving birds.  Now I’m brainstorming ways to make these skills into meaningful and creative work.  Income.  Fulfillment.  Joy.

I’ve spent a lifetime learning cool stuff.  I’m an expert at teaching this to others.  This formula should work.  It has to work.

Thanks for reading this far.  I need your input and help.

I’ve a few ideas that I’ll share later today.

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Earlier this week I wrote about my sadness regarding the end of Pods and my ukulele program at the Key Learning Community.

My principal (a wonderful and supportive woman) is not ready to give in.  She sent an email yesterday letting staff know that she has a plan that may preserve Pod in some fashion.

We’ll know more soon, but I’m very hopeful!


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(There is an update on this story here.)

The word came down today.  It’s the end of an era.  There will be no more Pod at the Key Learning Community.  No pod means that I will no longer have a ukulele program at my school.

The loss of our pod time can be blamed on a number of things.   The long and short of it is that our students are under-performing and we are being required to spend more time on Language Arts and Math.

I came to the Key Learning Community, an Indianapolis Public School, from affluent Carmel-Clay Schools.  I believed (and still do) that in order to educate children that thrive and love learning we must care for and nurture their creative selves.

The Key Learning Community focuses on the whole child.  We were the first school to implement Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (M.I.).  We worked directly with Dr., Gardener and are still considered the model for M.I. schools.  We also worked with Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and his Flow Theory.  Flow is an important concept, especially in understanding highly motivated and creative people.  We have two Flow teachers on staff that teach Flow Theory and teach children to seek experiences that produce Flow.

Pod class themes include everything imaginable:  dance, gardening, boatbuilding, paper arts, puppetry, violin, choir, sculpting, school newspaper, model trains — You name it!

Most years I used this time to teach ukulele.

My first Pod, a ukulele pop, grew into the Key Strummers.  The Key Strummers exploded onto a new ukulele scene.  We had 16 adorable kids that performed funny songs on well played ukuleles.  For eight great years we performed at national ukulele events (as far away as San Antonio), the National Governors’ Conference and with Garrison Keillor at the Indiana State Fair.  In addition to this we hosted three large successful ukulele festival in Indianapolis that drew crowds (yes, crowds) from Europe and Hawaii.

The Key Strummers performed with many of the world’s greatest ukulele performers and brought them to Indianapolis: Pops Bayless, Jim Beloff, Joel Eckhaus, Bryan Tolentino, Byron Yasui, James Hill and the great Jake Shimabukuro.

But I’m writing about pods in general.  Pods make school important.  Pods make school bearable.  Pods make school relevant.

Every student (and teacher), with every ability level, with every motivational level, with every degree of school success could count on spending 40 minutes (on most days) spending time with like minded folks that were excited about learning something special.

My pods were filled with geeks, jocks, gangsters and misfits.  When we began to play this wasn’t important.  The arguments with teachers and lost homework were forgotten as these children spent time doing something relevant.

This morning (after I learned that Pods would be no more, but the students had not yet learned.) a student came to class with Jim Beloff’s Book, The Ukulele: A Visual History.  The book was well above his reading level, but he was reading it!  He struggled with most words, but was reading it because he wants to learn everything he can about ukulele.  When he learned about the people in the book that had a relationship with our group and our history he was even more motivated to digest it all.  That’s authentic learning.  That’s how we really learn.  That’s what schools, everywhere, should be doing.

We are teaching the creativity and love of learning from our children — It’s a crying shame!

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