So, as I mentioned in a tweet earlier this week, I had been planning to play a few "Jazz Now"-ish tracks for my elementary school kids, just out of curiosity. Today was the first chance I had to do that, so I grabbed it.
In truth, it wasn't much of a chance. Our classes are a fleeting 30 minutes long (I know, I know), and of course there are other things on the daily agenda with each -- so basically I had to steal time from an already limited period.
I decided to focus on the older kids (4th through 7th grade), because I wanted them to respond to the music in writing, and I wanted them to provide as much detail as they liked.
I played two tracks: Led Bib's "Shower" (not sure if Led Bib made it onto anyone's Jazz Now list, actually -- but what the hell, I dig them) and Polar Bear's "Tomlovesalicelovestom." Assuming this is going to be an ongoing exercise, I'm starting across the pond, I guess.
A few words about the sample: all of the students I played this music for are at the very beginning stages of learning to play an instrument. When I have polled them about their musical taste in the past, they have tended to skew toward heavy metal, hard rock, rap, and pop. I did not tell them anything about what I was going to play for them (I did not even use the word "jazz") -- I simply played the track, cold, and then asked them to answer three questions:
1. Did you like it?
2. Why or why not?
3. Would you like to hear more music by this artist?
I encouraged them to be honest.
Out of a total of 19 students:
5 liked "Shower," and wanted to hear more.
8 did not like "Shower" and were not interested in hearing more.
6 were not sure if they liked "Shower" or not, and were not sure if they wanted to hear more.
Here are some of the comments from the students who liked "Shower":
"It sounds mysterious and Egyptian."
"It is very calm and helps take the stress out of you. I also like old-sounding and looking stuff."
"I think that it's a jazz theme. I liked it. I'd like to be good like those guys. I like that it was slow."
"It's soothing I guess, and its a nice mix of instruments."
And the haters:
"It's just not me."
"Horrible song, too may instruments at one time."
"A little weird."
"I don't like it that much. It's because it's boring and does the same thing over and over. I hate when songs do that."
"It's better than nothing but I like words. I don't like saxophone."
"It was too slow getting to the part I like."
"There's no singing and it's not exciting."
Then I played "Tomlovesalicelovestom."
12 kids liked it (some, in fact, loved it), and wanted to hear more.
4 were on the fence, but 2 of them were interested in hearing more.
3 were sure they didn't like it, and didn't want to hear any more (as one wrote: "MY HEAD HURTS").
Excerpted commentary, pro:
"THAT's what I'm talkin' about! It's groovy and funky fresh. I'd listen to it more." (This student also said it reminded him of the B-52s.)
"Yes! Yes! I like it because the beat and choice of instruments. But I only like the beginning to the middle."
"It sounds classic."
"It is so random. I love things that are so random, with old music."
"It's like a lowish jazzy song [...] or it sounds like an Aztec feast."
"It is kind of weird but I like how alternative it is."
Excerpted commentary, con:
"It's horrible it sounds like monkeys." (A reference to the balloon noises in the second half of the tune -- which were assumed by other students to be dolphins.)
"I don't like jazz or whatever this is."
"I hate jazz. It's boring."
And there you have it. That's what you call science, beyotches.
[photo credit: NIOSH]
9 out of 10 researchers recommend the Industrial Jazz Group's fall fundraiser, in support of our October tour. You can find out more, and contribute to the cause (for as little as $1!), here.
And: contest mania! Check out the remix contest, and the IJG "The Job Song" video contest.