[Dixielandjazz] Kids- A toot on my own horn

Geoffrey Davis artdept@ameritech.net
Tue, 06 Aug 2002 22:49:21 -0600

Though maybe not strictly YKOM I've had great success hooking kids on MKOM
and turnng out some great performers.

A brief history-

I began teaching 2 yrs. ago at a wonderful progressive inner city school.
One of the great things abot the program is that every teacher teaches a
class in something that interests them.  I volunteered to begin a OKOM band
with a group of middle school instrumentalists.  Being the new guy I was
somehow assigned a handful of boys that didn't seem to fit in any group.
They were also all elementary kids and didn't play instruments.

You can check out the website to see where we are noe (2 years later).  I
begged and borrowed ukuleles...this was my first instrument and I wanted the
kids to get a sense of jazz rythm and learn to hear changes.

I turned to a Hoosier institution for our inspiration...the Hoosier
Hotshots.  We play 8-10 Hotshot numbers like "The Dummy Song", "When there's
Tears in the Eyes of the Potato", "I like Mountain Music", etc.  We also
play a hape haole tune or two like "I Wanna go Back to my Little Grass
Shack."  We also play some great 20s novleties like "Crazy Words Cray Tune",
"Mysterious Mose" and "'Tain't no Sin to Take off Your Skin and Dance Around
in Your Bones"

The kids, other students and parents cannot get enough of it!  These kids
are seeking out Hotshot, Louis Armstrong, Spike Jones Albums and learnig the
songs.  We've moved two kids to upright bass, another plays a great tenor
banjo and we have a great drummer that plays on the rims.  I am so proud of
what these kids can do.

We've become a fairly hot commodity in Indianapolis.  We've played the black
tie gala for the opening of a new museum.  The governor had us to play on
his lawn.  Tomorrow morning we are the band selected to open the State Fair.

We are the only school based music group, that I know of, that covers our
own budget with money that we earn playing.  We charge for gigs and we have
a kitty when it's not tacky and folks are generous if they like what we do.

We've great plans for the future.  We're expanding our outreach program.  We
already play at other schools, but we're now exploring ways to provide
instruments and instruction to other schools.  As these kids get a little
older and begin instumental music we will add horns and evelove into what I
started..a traditional jazz band.

Take a look at our website...these kids are great!


Geoffrey Davis
Organizer - The Midwest Ukulele Festival
Director and Sponsor - Key Strummers - A Red Hot Novelty Jazz Band
Key Learning Community
Indianapolis Public Schools