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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Teaching to the Future


Students enrolled in St. Ed's History of Rock and Roll, Concert Band and Jazz Combo courses, accompanied by Associate Director of Performing Arts and Director of Bands Mr. Angelo Kortyka '98 and Performing Arts teacher Mrs. Lisa Hirzel, went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to participate in the Rockin' the Schools program this week, a unique program that exposes students to rock music history and how it continues to impact our lives. The program not only offers an interdisciplinary opportunity that connects music with art, literature, social studies and science, but also a chance to explore the museum and perform alongside other musicians to create a more engaging and interactive experience. During the program, Edsmen attended a presentation called "The Message," which explored the beginning of hip-hop music, its relevance to rock and roll and the social forces behind the music.

"The history of rock and roll class combines music, history and sociology," says Mr. Kortyka. "While watching 'The Message,' students were acquainted with the sociological developments of the Bronx in the 1970's, how those conditions created hip-hop, and how early hip-hop innovators were not only community leaders and a positive force for change, but also technological innovators who ultimately changed the course of American history and music forever." After the presentation, students found their way to "The Garage," a second-floor space that encourages fans to test different instruments from a 6-string Fender Telecaster guitar to a Ludwig floor tom drum or to jam out with friends with a full band setup and audio/video recording gear. "Catching Mrs. Hirzel on the keyboard, Zach Simmons on drums, Tyler Incorvaia on bass, and Jackson McKeigue and Andrew Bushok on vocals jamming out to Rick Astley's 'Never Gonna Give You Up' was my favorite moment of the day," says Mr. Kortyka. "I was so pleased to see our students get involved at 'The Garage' and throughout the whole program and to come back with great revelations about applications for their own musical skills. Students become better musicians by realizing that many of the artists in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are not classically trained, but still share a similar path to musical excellence."

While touring the museum, students found artifacts and memorabilia that directly connected with musicians and music history topics they're learning in the classroom, sparking great conversation and dialogue to further understand the power and impact of music. "We can talk about music, it's importance, and how to perform it all day. We can make our own music, listen to 'the greats,' and talk about what makes it so special. But seeing the instruments, fashion, original lyrics, and videos of performers at pivotal moments in their careers provided invaluable insight," says Mr. Kortyka. "There is no better way to convey the gravity of the impact that rock and roll has had on our culture and society. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame helps us better understand the power of music through aesthetic education."

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