the blues…emotions and music

Last week was a bit rough for James.  He expressed that his eyes hurt a lot when he does RPM (spelling his thoughts and answers on a letterboard) so we had to back up a bit and not do quite so much spelling.  I think the stress and strain of getting out everything that he wants to say can get to him.  On Thursday when his teacher asked him why he was crying and complaining during the course of a normal conversation she and I were having he said it upsets him when we talk to each other but not to him. She said she understood communication was really important and that he needed to talk. He said I TALK TO GOD.  She asked if he wanted to share what he talks to God about and he said TO HELP ME TALK. 

This week and next James and his teachers are finishing up their American Classics unit so today they looked at a poem by May Swenson called Water Picture and also discussed Blues Music. His teacher asked him from just hearing the poem what he thought imagery means and he said SPEAK IN PICTURES.  She asked what he thought the mood of the poem was and he said CALM. She said the poem had a nostalgic feel to it-the feeling of looking back fondly at something.  James was asked to use imagery to describe a time or place he remembered fondly. Here is what he wrote:

WILLIAMSBURG.   A SUNNY DAY.   I AM ALL DECKED OUT IN BLUE AND SMILING WIDE.

What are the Blues? Was the title of the lesson on Blues music.  Here is part of the lesson:

Blues music began as the primary artistic expression of a minority culture: It was created mainly by black working class men and women. Through its simplicity, poetry, humor and irony it mirrored the qualities and the attitudes of blacks in America for three-quarters of a century.

Teacher: What does minority mean?

James: SMALLER, LESS PEOPLE

Teacher: What does state of mind mean:

James: MOOD

Teacher: What do we mean when we say someone has “the blues”?

James: SAD

Teacher: Why would someone want to sing about “the blues”

James: MAKE THEM FEEL BETTER

Teacher: Why do you think “the blues” originated from Black Americans?

James: DISCRIMINATION

They discussed some of the blues artist’s names including Muddy Waters, Bo Didley and Lightin’ Hopkins. He was asked to make up a blues name for himself and he said HAPPY JAMES.

The teacher said there is an ongoing debate among blues enthusiasts: Can people who are not African American truly enjoy or play the blues?

James: REALLY EVERYONE FEELS SAD

Last but not least James was asked to come up with a line or two of his own Blues song.  Here it is:

TALKING

HOW I WANT TO SPEAK MY THOUGHTS AND BE HEARD

Final thoughts from me:

I think we have a generation of afflicted children, who as they mature and are given a means to express themselves will generate art, music and literature the likes of which we have not yet seen; for it will be born from the womb of an imposed and imprisoned silence.

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