Sunday, March 14, 2010

Classroom Management...I mean, Amazing Concert Experience

Tonight I saw Butch Walker perform at the Paradise. It was the first time I had seen him play in over five years and well worth the wait! No, he is certainly not a musician that is trying to key into the iGeneration market, but he did something...well, a few things tonight that provided me with some very significant "AHA!" moments. In addition to watching someone play the drums with a tennis ball (and not as part of some experimental art battle show in Williamsburg), I witnessed a classic Butch Walker move. He let his band leave the stage at the end of the encore and stood at the very edge leading the audience in a medley of LaLas and BahBahs. We sang together for what could have been thirty minutes but felt like a brief instant. He calmly walked through the crowd leading the group in song. No one rushed at him or knocked him over. The song seemed to keep everyone entranced. He stood up on a ledge and slowly made the group sing quieter and quieter. I became anxious knowing that at any moment he could stop and the peaceful magic would break. We continued to sing until he lowered his hands to signify an ending. Within seconds he had disappeared backstage, and we were stunned. It took a few moments until people had realized what happen and then the applause started as the house lights came back up. When I finally "came to," I thought about how amazing that experience was and then realized that I do that almost five days a week. Kindergartners love singing simple melodies. I'm learning that keying children in with song is a great way to focus their attention. Dan Anderson's research on audio cues supports this. Butch Walker took a classic classroom management skill and used it on hundreds of adults. Brilliant!

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