Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meet The Electric Rebel Monkeys

Like most financially strapped Chicago public schools, my youngest daughter's grade school is always trying to raise money. A few months ago, as part of a silent auction, I offered to conduct a songwriting/recording workshop for two small groups of kids.

The first group, now known as The Electric Rebel Monkeys, just completed their original song, "Stop Driving Us Crazy." The Monkeys are three CPS students (2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 6th grade) whom I had never met until they showed up at my house one day last spring.

Before they ever got around to christening themselves The Electric Rebel Monkeys, the kids spent a couple of Saturday mornings talking with me about songs, poems, and rock-n-roll. We listened to old records and talked about song structure. Most of all, we had fun.

Eventually, the kids put pen to paper and knocked out their song, telling their parents (in jest, of course) to get off their backs. As you can see from the video, these kids rock, and they had a ball rocking out.

Every time the Monkeys came to my house, I was reminded why we need to make sure we have music and art in our public schools. All kids should have the chance to sit around a table and brainstorm about song ideas. Not because they need to become musicians or songwriters, but just because it's a great way for kids to learn about teamwork, effective communication, storytelling, and constructive criticism.

Along the way, the Monkeys also needed to reach deep inside themselves to tap into vocal abilities they weren't sure they had at the start of this project. There's certainly something to be said for getting the opportunity to take those kinds of risks in a safe environment.

Finally, the kids learned that it's simply a lot of fun to create something from nothing. That's why "Stop Driving Us Crazy" by The Electric Rebel Monkeys is this week's "pick to click."


Stop driving us crazy
We're doing our best
Quit saying were lazy
Just give it a rest

You give me spinach every night
To make me big and strong
I don't want another bite
The taste is so wrong


You make me study every day
Until my brain is gonna burst
But all I wanna do is play
'Cause homework is the worst


You throw me in the bath
To get me squeaky clean
I start to feel your wrath
Do you have to be so mean?


1 comment:

GSarchet said...

Like: "The first group..."