Each year, the John Lennon Education Tour Bus visits schools throughout the US to help elementary, middle school and high school students learn different ways to express their creativity. They teach them how to write songs, and then help them record those songs. Taking it one step further, they then help the students create a music video featuring their newly created song and the students that created it. My wife and I were very fortunate last week to be able to tour the Lennnon Bus while it visited E T Richardson Middle School in Springfield, PA as part of the Support Music Coalition and NAMM Best Communities for Music forum. The Lennon Bus itself is a technological wonder, with a full audio recording studio, full video recording & production suite plus living quarters for the three onboard engineers who literally live on the bus 10 months out of the year.
First we arrived for the "Support Music Coalition" forum that began at 8:30 AM in the school auditorium. The forum was a outstanding panel of folks including representatives from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA), National Association of Music Merchandisers (NAMM) as well as music teachers and parents of music students. The panel also included the Superintendent of the host school district, Dr. James Capalupo, who is an outspoken supporter of music in schools with the quote "Support the arts, ALWAYS, cut the arts programs, NEVER". Dr. Capaulop is part of a growing trend of Superintendents across the country who started their own careers as music teachers.
The "Support Music" panel discussion centered around the benefits of music education in the schools, what it does for the students, both academically and for their confidence and social skills. The panel also touched on some ways that schools and communities can help with the arts programs in schools. One method that has been very helpful in the Springfield School district is the non-profit parent and alumni booster organization that helps rally the community with fundraisers and other activities to help keep the focus on the arts.
After the forum we headed outside into the light rain to wait for our turn to get the official Lennon Bus tour. There was a tent set up outside with music equipment including a full drum set, keyboard and guitar. I couldn't resist the opportunity to jump on the keyboard and I played a few songs with Bryce from the Lennon Bus keeping the beat on the drums. If my voice was awake that early in the morning I might have started to sing as well, but I'm pretty sure the frogs were still in session :)
After a brief wait, we jumped in on the last general tour of the bus before the students began to line up for their days activities. Peter, one of the 3 Lennon Bus engineers, then demonstrated some of the videos that the students had done, including a high school group with a polished, MTV-like quality to a fun and quirky music video done by an elementary school group - something about saving themselves from the "Land of the Stashes" in reference to mustaches and beards. This is the cutest video, and you can tell the kids had so much fun creating it. This was a story the kids made up all by themselves and the Lennon Bus team helped them create & record the song and then film a 3 minute music video to help tell the story. The resulting music video is colorful and entertaining and would be a big hit in any grade school classroom or even as a Nick Jr segue way in between shows.
Springfield's ET Richardson Middle School was previously chosen as one of the 500 schools in the nation to have the best music education support. Each of these schools was asked to submit a short video about "What Makes Music Education Great in Your School" for a chance to win a visit by the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. For more information on upcoming Support Music events and John Lennon Educational Tour Bus visits please visit SupportMusic.com and LennonBus.org . Here's the winning video sent in by E.T. Richardson Middle school which will then also play into videos that some different schools have created during their own visit by the Lennon Bus. Emjoy!
That's all for today folks - It's Music Monday and the Monday part is almost over - I'll be back in a few days with more musical fun and infotainment for you - Until then let the music play on!
Music, Love & Laughter,
Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com