Friday, April 22, 2016

Year 6: Week 31 – A Lesson On Prince

Today I taught my kids about Prince. Here’s the lesson that I gave two of my classes.

8th Grade: 

Yesterday Prince passed away and the world is mourning this loss. Like David Bowie, who we discussed when he passed away, Prince was a brave individual.

We’re working on “American Skin (41 Shots)” by Bruce Springsteen and learning about the death of Amadou Diallo. Sadly this type of injustice has continued in our country. One such incident last April was the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Yes, Freddie Gray had a record, but when he was arrested for carrying an illegal knife (which ended up not being illegal), the police had no cause to take him into custody.

Being in police custody is supposed to be safe. You are surrounded by police officers.  Gray suffered injuries to his spinal cord when he was in police custody and later died. This sparked angry protest in Baltimore. In response to this, Prince, played at a concert and through music brought the city back together, brought attention to this issue and honored the spirit of Freddie Gray with this beautiful song that was both critical and optimistic.

Think about Prince’s message; notice the wonderful music and intricate arrangement. This is the artist that we are saying goodbye to today.

3rd Grade & 5th Grade:

Remember this song that I taught you? “Starfish and Coffee”? Let’s sing it.

That’s a Prince song. I start the year with that song, because it’s fun, joyous and reminds me of what I love about Prince and what I love about music.

Prince expanded the way that people saw the world. When we think of guitarist, most of us think of Caucasian musicians, even though some of the most important guitar players like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters were African American. Prince expanded what we think of when we think of guitarist. At the same time, Prince redefined what it meant to be an African American musician playing different styles of music and dressing in fantastic and wonderful ways.

Some people thought he was weird, but that Prince have the courage to be himself. I feel very lucky that we are at a school where being different in honored and encouraged. It’s not that way in many different schools. Being yourself can feel very lonely. But when you see an artist like Prince being an individual, it makes you feel less alone. That’s why he means so much to so many people.

His music is unique, fun, and glorious.

This is a performance of “Purple Rain” from a Superbowl halftime show. We talk about color swith emotions, like if you are “blue” you are sad.  Prince uses the color purple to express emotions, but it's not just one feeling.  Purple is sad, but also, hopeful and happy. This is how I feel about Prince. I’m sad, but we get to listen to his great music and that’s something special that I feel fortunate to share with all of you.

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