Shaun Rodgers joins the show to talk about drumming, teaching music in the Virginia public school system, and the University of Maryland’s music department.  Shaun is a former colleague and bandmate of hosts Aaron Sefchick and Joe McMurray, playing drums in their original band, the Kairos Quintet.  The guys reminisce on the collaborative writing approach and overall professionalism of that band.
Shaun tells us about the different bands that he is currently playing in around Northern Virginia including:
–  Broken Ground Band: a 1990s/early 2000s cover band (www.brokengroundband.com)
–  Half Pint Harry: a band featuring tiny instruments (www.halfpintharry.com)
–  FarAway: an acoustic duo (plus drums) (www.farawaysongs.com)
Shaun tells us about life as a general music teacher in the Virginia public school system.  He teaches Kindergarten through 6th grade and although it can sometimes be exhausting, Shaun points to the beauty of having a full-time salaried position in the musical realm.  We discuss why he is choosing to teach younger kids versus older kids (no after school programs!), semester planning, “Standards of Learning” (SOL), teaching young kids how to “school,”  teaching recorder in public schools, and the usefulness of the piano and guitar for teaching.
We then talk about melodic drumming, a topic that we have discussed in the past with Joe Hamm of El Sistema in Episode 038.  Shaun, who has an incredible ear, tells us about his past ear training and how it helps him to sing harmonies.  We also talk about the importance of designated listening for ourselves and our students.
[Music]
[Applause]
Welcome to Fret Buzz The Podcast. My name
is Joe McMurray and I’m Aaron Sefchick,
and today our good friend Shaun Rodgers is
here.
Shaun is an incredible drummer. He was the
drummer in our
project the Kairos Quintet and Shaun is
also a music teacher in the Virginia
public school system. So welcome Shaun.
Hey, that sounded exactly like
last time. Do you write it down?
We’re like, almost 50 in so… you want to
explain that to everybody? This is our
second take here, started recording the
first time… it is what it is. But we are
honored to have Shaun here with us so
yeah. We we all worked at Bach to Rock in
Chantilly South Riding Virginia Northern
Virginia and Aaron had this great idea
to put together a band of music
instructors that would meet on Tuesday
nights and we came in and produced some
really incredible inspiring original
material and Shaun was literally
instrumental in all of that. Yeah,
we left off I guess right before
we realized we weren’t recording we’re
talking just about we came in we worked
we didn’t really mess around like there
wasn’t any just like noodling we came in
with a direction or at least we would
write stuff down like hey we’re working
on this then this then this we would
storyboard out like our practices yeah
it was very deliberate yeah it was very
I was bullet-pointed you know everything
we had a mission we knew why we were
there and the collaboration was on
purpose yeah that was that was the whole
point of it coming together and making
the most out of the time that we were
there and really getting to the point of
you know any one of our collaborations
you know whether
whether it was something that Shawn
brought to the table something that
Joseph brought the tip something I
brought the table and that was it you
know you you would sit there with I know
for me I would write it out I would
write out a chart chord chart and I
would bring it to you guys whether that
was very open-ended or maybe there was a
section where I had a rhythm that I
wanted everybody to follow but as we
were saying before it was really nice to
be able to collaborate with teachers who
obviously because we were all teachers
we all knew how to lead you have to be
able to lead within a classroom and then
more importantly you have to be able to
listen and I think that that quality of
listening to each other and not playing
over top of each other which you know I
teach bands every day and that drives me
nuts is like when someone’s trying to
explain something and everybody someone
else is like wailing away on their
guitar and I’m like stop doing that and
then they turn down their volume and
they’re still doing they’re still
playing and I’ll call for it I’ll put my
hands on their their guitar I’m like
stop playing you’re not listening like
inevitably five minutes later we’re
gonna go in it okay here we go one two
three four and that one person’s like
wait what are we doing I’m like our
practice has always dissolved naturally
too like they were 3 E 4 ish hours but
it was never like all right it’s one
time to go home that would usually be
like that was never we never looked at
the clock and then decided it was time
to go home we’re usually like oh man I’m
tired all right what time is it now
right oh all right let’s get out of here
yeah yeah yeah we were very focused and
engaged and what was very cool about
that group was we’re you know one of us
might bring in a song that we had you
know fully written out or partially
written out written out but we were all
very open to other people’s input and
ideas and you know we were always open
like oK you’ve got an idea to change
this section or the transition or add a
different section or add a harmony or
something and we would try it and it
didn’t always work but you know everyone
was good at what they did and we we
produced
really really good music original music
and when it worked man it worked
yeah home and boy did it smell out
well spell out again too cuz that got
lost oh yeah yeah anyway look up the
Kyra’s quintet k AI ro s quintet yep
Cairo’s quintet the five of us got
together one and guys the Greek would go
ahead explain Kairos to them yeah Greek
Egyptian it was something it was that
was that me they found that there’s
somebody we were just looking for names
and it was a word that meant like
everything that when it all comes
together at once basically like and for
us whatever was the five musicians
coming together in that moment being
like we should try something and like
the first practice I think would be what
Kairos was like oh there’s really
something here yeah it’s like
serendipity basically here I just looked
it up on on Google Kairos is an ancient
Greek word meaning the right critical or
opportune moment there you go yeah yeah
and it was I mean awesome I loved every
minute of Kairos it was I’m glad that I
went through with it I had this idea of
you know bringing high-caliber musicians
together I was just waiting for the
right opportunity and I saw it and
seized it approached all of you guys and
said do you want to get together on a
Tuesday night and it happened man
I what we played for roughly two years
had a couple live gigs and on the back
end of it man like just some of the
material that we created it just gives
me chills to this day it’s just now for
all our listeners it’s not like it was
mind blowing or anything like that I
think it was the experience of being
around musicians who take your craft as
seriously as you do
I know there have been many bands that
I’ve been in in the past where there’s
always one or two members that don’t
look at it in this the the way that I
did the way that I practiced the way
that I dug into the material and then
showed up for next practice and wasn’t
prepared there was always that I mean
even in past bands has been a point of
contention where you know you get into
fights about who’s not practicing or
who’s not pulling their weight like that
and that was the one thing about Kairos
that really and that I never even had a
second thought about I knew that going
to practice that it was going to be
exciting because everybody had something
to bring to the table that was new you
know new ideas new things that were
happening we hadn’t we had an agenda and
if we got done with that agenda and
suite at the end of it at the end of the
session somebody might have some new
material that we get to work on and that
was exciting because now next week I
have new stuff that I can more play with
yeah that was like with retrospect you
know we had this kind of oh my gosh you
know like I was so excited that we you
know had this chord this chord
progression and and we were talking
about the similarities between dawn and
stuff like that I don’t care I get to
play with this as much as possible and
now I’m gonna go home and I remember
coming back that next week and play in
that riff overtop of what you guys had
and Ellison was like words for that song
changed every week key I mean we have
what hundreds of hours of recordings now
at this point and I know you’ve talked
about it on the podcast but like you
can’t overstate how how beneficial
recording is to everything that’s we had
those recordings and I would listen to
be like oh that doesn’t sound like
whatever I’m playing I don’t like how
that sounds I should do something
completely different next week figure it
out or this needs to be tweaked yeah
or the opposite you’d hear like some
riff that the piano player played and
you’d be like
oh I didn’t hear that live mm-hmm that
but I was focused on something else for
whatever reason in like all right you
bring that up and be like dude you need
to do that again now is cool yes yes
that would happen all the time whether
it was something drums or something on
you know guitar or whatever it was you
know you’d you’re so focused on maybe
maybe it’s me and I’m playing my guitar
part or at the moment I was listening to
Joe and what he was doing with harmony
off of what I was doing and then
listening back to the recording I heard
Shawn do something on the drums and I’m
like oh oh wait isolate that and that
Bashan because that was awesome yeah
that’s you did a couple times you like
do you remember when you did this no
right all right what was here in the
song okay cool I can do that again yeah
I mean I would literally I would go home
and all week I would just listen to our
session over and over again and pull out
all the parts that work cool that worked
i do-
track side boost people’s tracks I’d
take people’s tracks away just so we
could kind of focus and my thing was and
I know there were differing opinions on
this but my thing was is it it was all
about the music I really really wanted
the music to be the focus and not the
vocals so I never recorded vocals it was
always about individual instruments not
that I have anything against well you’ll
find that you’ll find we’re also like
the most kind of set instead like it
when I came in with a song that vocal
line is going to be the last thing that
would change
well if here’s the chords and I’m like
here’s the melody like part of what we
did then if you wrote the song and could
sing it you sang leave there was no lead
singer is just if you wrote the song and
you know how to do it we’re not gonna
spend time with that you know how to
sing it will make everything around it
better yeah
it was also a weakness like we didn’t
have a dedicated professional lead
singer no that would have been nice
instrumentalists or just vocal yeah I
mean a professional lead singer or if we
had spent like if me and you harmonize
me
Joe harmonized on a bunch of songs
that’s like if me and him ever sat down
for like an hour and like really
hammered stuff out but we didn’t really
do that just kind of came through like
if you were singing we all had mics if
there was a harmony you thought worked
he would just throw it in there see if
it worked and keep it yeah yeah we did
some vocal we did some vocal practices I
do remember that I remember going
through some nights and we would just
dedicate half hour hour to just vocals
work on harmonies and things like that I
mean – my favorite oh yeah I do I’m I’m
such a fan of instrumental music I I
feel like in you know modern culture
it’s very you know you very rarely
listen to the radio and there’s an
instrumental song like it’s all about
the vocals even though every other
instrument instrumentalist has put in as
much or more time as the vocalist the
vocalist is 98% of the time you know
given the spotlight in radio music and
it can be a little frustrating as
someone who puts so much time into his
instrument so it was nice that the
Cairo’s quintet did did put that
emphasis on the music while also making
room for vocals where they’re needed
into you know to tell the stories that
were needed that we needed to tell ya
retrospect is perfect that I mean vocals
is two and a half minutes and then
there’s three minutes of instrumental
afterwards doesn’t feel like a
five-minute song it just moves yeah I
mean what about Aaron’s what was it
called the the funky one oh no not
pardon party parties all that I wanted
yes that one Aaron like you have that
one the one-line poppy I mean for like
20 seconds three four minutes into the
song yeah it’s perfect it’s like its own
instrument it’s not meant to be a vocal
song but the vocals play a very nice
part there
I consider that song and instrumental
because that’s all you say is all that I
wanted to stay
right in front of me all that I needed
is standing right in front of me but
it’s every time that comes in I smiles
like how it’s perfect it’s exactly what
needs to be right there mm-hmm
yeah like it’s yeah man I loved it two
years of just pure awesomeness it’s I
really enjoyed the time that we had
together and you know maybe we’ll get
that back someday that was spent some
time today digging up some old
recordings yeah yeah so yeah by all
means if anybody out there is interested
search up kairos quintet we do have some
material out there we’ve done a couple
live shows but we have a whole bunch of
material that we’ve never published
maybe someday Kyra’s quintet search dawn
there’s our good example of the
instruments over the voice it’s like a
symphony for electric instruments yeah I
I submitted dawn to have Rick Beato
listened to and everybody was really
impressed by the by the by the track it
was it was very cool
that’s also no small feat you’re mixing
and mastering of that yeah we got mixes
from somebody else too and I still I
think I’d lean towards I mean in this
case normally I like somebody to mix or
master who hasn’t heard the material
before yeah so you get that outside here
but at the same time this was so like
vision specific that it’s like you had
to be the one said to do all the work on
it you knew exactly what it was yeah I
think having being so close to the
project for me and like I said weekly
just diving into all the different parts
and knowing where each person needed to
shine an outsider’s perspective may not
have that insight so that’s where I came
in as the mixer and mastering I knew
where everything needed to kind of be
pushed and pulled
so yeah I feel the same way obviously
I’m a little biased I like I thought it
was fascinating to hear to hear the
other mixed and here he he had accusing
he had levels different on different
instruments of different sections yeah
and I was like oh I never even knew that
part was there yeah so low in your mix
and then the main melody what I thought
was the main melody was really low in
comparison to something else it was
interesting to hear that yeah but you
had you know you had the greater vision
of what the yeah song sound like and the
other thing was the piano the piano
player where I kind of mixed because the
piano player had like a regular keyboard
I think there was an organ in there I
think there might have been two organs
in there instead of pushing all of them
up and letting letting them play with
each other I was doing a lot of pushing
and pulling and letting each part come
out so yeah there’s a lot of that goes
on in the original mix as well I am
taking I feel like from multiple
recordings cuz well he had the same
ideas every time it was never the same
like notes specifically so it’s just
like all day his run was awesome let’s
keep that from here but that in yeah
yeah no this is jazz so yeah
Kairos connect check it out it’s cool oh
by all means
Sean Rogers everybody this is our
reunion on air here so get a dose of how
happy we are to see each other Sean does
other things outside of the Kyra’s
quintet like the drums and he teaches so
uh let’s jump into some of that yeah our
listeners yeah so yeah let’s jump into
first let’s if we could let’s jump into
a little bit about drums we haven’t
really touched too much on drubbs here
at fret
so this might be a little bit of a
introduction for some of our listeners –
drums and what it all entails if you
could Shawn I know you’re involved with
a couple of projects right now you are
currently playing out quite a bit how
many projects are you involved with and
what are you doing drum wise and then
after that I’d love to just kind of get
into actual physical drums yeah
but if you could lead us off with a
little bit of your experience and what
you’re doing now currently yeah actually
so the first band that I joined when I
moved back to the DC area from a brief
stint in South Carolina was a punk band
and now they yesterday when I had a gig
I’m not in that band anymore they
actually opened for Less Than Jake
yesterday and annapolis was pretty cool
wow that’s a big name yeah at least
probably the biggest name of any of us
would have known to open for but so that
was a punk band now I’m in I guess I’ll
say three and like occasionally I have
other friends who if they need a drummer
for a show they’ll call me up but like
in the DC area I don’t although Joe you
you did more original stuff I’m very
much like a gig out in bars
ten-to-one whatever it’s always covers
we can throw one or two originals in
there but for the most part people want
to hear songs they can sing and dance –
yeah
one is a like 90s to early 2000s cover
band like blink 182 Green Day Foo
Fighters that group super fun because I
get to beat the hell out of the drums
when I play like it gets a really play
yeah it’s just a trio all three of us
sing so that’s something where while the
vocals might not be the most important
thing I’m looking at it is not like drum
guitar bass and three voices it’s like
six instruments if you want if we have
all three of us are gonna sing all three
of us should sing and like make that
sound bigger another band is a it’s sort
of the opposite it is a it’s a concept
band it’s tiny instruments the lead
guitarist uses an electric
ukulele the bass player uses a you bass
ukulele sized bass I have the smaller
they are and they’ve worked at they’re
easy to like it doesn’t it’s not nearly
as painful like if I pick that up and
play a song because I don’t have any
calluses on my fingers for that it’s not
nearly as bad I just have visions of the
Jimmy Fallon toy band it’s not far off
and then I mean I use the same kid that
I used in Cairo so I’ve been using
everywhere at the breakbeats we can get
in there I love that kid we can get into
that later but it’s very very small on
purpose to fit very small stages and
then I play in a group that I’ve been
playing with since forever
this husband-wife acoustic guitar duo
and then when they need drums on their
own called drummer they moved to
Charlottesville last year so like two
years ago I joined those other bands cuz
I knew that gigs weren’t gonna be coming
in as much so I was trying to fill that
space but then they keep coming up and
playing shows and like in the last I’m
somewhere in the middle of a 10-week
stretch where I have like 15 gigs on the
weekends it’s a lot yeah that’s good
that’s good money coming in it is it’s a
good way to supplement income yeah
coffee drink coffee I just this is just
water yeah but I mean that’s the other
thing though cuz with the teaching like
I work in an elementary school that’s
like a full day job and then what so I
had a gig yesterday or two days ago
we’re recording this on Sunday I think
so Friday I had a school wake up at
whatever time for school do all that and
then I have a gig night I get home at
like 3:00 I’ve been awake for 23 some
hours or something like that yeah 20
that’s the musicians life the gigging
yeah it’s probably I would imagine
teaching we’ll get more into teaching
specifics but especially working with
elementary school kids you would need an
outlet to play some more complex music
yeah eight hours a day you know teaching
the
six yeah cuz I don’t teach instruments
any more either like I went to school
for an instrumental degree but I teach
general so the instruments are those
like very small xylophones it’s like the
Jimmy Fallon thing that Aaron was
talking about that’s little classroom
instruments we do a lot of singing we do
a lot of dancing but I don’t like there
is a band and a strings teacher at the
school that’s not me I can help the kids
because I know how to play all those
things that’s what I did when I went to
school yeah but that’s not my job there
so my creative outlet
I call him Friday songs I don’t know I
feel yeah parents there’s nothing he’s
seen I take his tongue that’s popular on
the radio and I rewrite the words to be
about Friday and how none of us want to
be in school and want to go home and
take that I do that like every week but
I I try really hard to not actually
start it whatsoever until Friday morning
when I get to school so it’s like an
hour I have to find out what’s popular
on the radio learn it quickly rewrite
the words it keeps me sharp but it’s
also I mean like the kids think it’s
neat but I’m like if you can indulge my
vanity for about two minutes here do
this do you have them
no they I intentionally have them not
sing because they know the songs but
they don’t know like I switch up the
words so I say like if you sing with me
it’s gonna sound like mashed potatoes
because we’re not singing the same thing
right just sit here and enjoy that would
enjoy my my goofiness yeah basically
most of the time it’s I like it when
other teachers like if they’re picking
up their kids at classroom teachers I’m
here you should listen to a song cuz
this is more for the adults a lot of the
time kids are like we want to leave I’m
like you have no idea what wanting to
leave is how old are they how old are
your students I see the whole school so
kindergarten through sixth grade
okay live to eleven twelve Wow
it’s I mean I’m really trying to think
about like the kindergarteners when they
enter and even still they’re like
preschool or still there so you know
kindergarten you’re learning how to do
everything
yeah in sixth grade you’re like pretty
close to a young adult lady that
it’s completely different people yeah
yeah kindergarten you like you’re trying
to explain the treble clef staff and
you’re like the space notes spell face
and they’re like I don’t know how to
spell face right right let’s face I have
to work on a basic English here yeah
where we can get to music yep yeah
that’s interesting too cuz I try to do
stuff like that treble staff but that’s
a little bit ahead of I mean they just
want to know like if they can say staff
by the end of kindergarten and I want to
try to get note reading and stuff in
early but their classes of 2530 it’s not
like individual lessons and so so much
of me sitting with all of that training
is like I know that the earlier you
start anything the easier it’s gonna be
the more it’s gonna stick so I’m trying
Graham like it’s not gonna if I have
whatever just some student who’s just
singularity off like freaking out in the
corner now I have to address that I
can’t be doing whatever we’re doing here
all right yeah just try to keep it
together that’s a completely different
like from Bach to rock that’s you
touched on this in earlier podcast it’s
after school because when kids take
music lessons they can’t do it like
you’re not gonna get pulled out of
school to go to a guitar lesson right so
just in doing that that’s that was all
music all whatever one-on-one you could
start things younger do whatever and
then now like in in public school
you’re like a sort of a psychiatrist
sort of or whatever this that the other
thing like there’s so many parts of my
job that I didn’t realize we’re part of
my job that are arguably more important
than just the teaching music in the
classroom yeah so is this is this what
you want to do or do you aspire to get
into a program teaching at a middle
school or high school what’s your what’s
your short-term like where would you
like to be in five years and where would
you like to be in 15 years 20 years you
seem a little exasperated
now it’s anybody who I don’t know how
anybody does like any job for whatever
40 years and then you retire that seems
insane that you wouldn’t want to like
switch something up like where you guys
were talking about the crossroads like
Joe took the leap and went in full-time
playing like I would love to do that who
wouldn’t but I also went to school for
music this is a good job it’s got great
benefits it’s good for me and my wife
it’s what I want to do at least to a
degree like I went to school for music
and performance and immediately drop the
performance degree and I found through
my first year there it’s frustrating and
stuff but I think this is more of what I
probably should have been doing it fits
my personality I got to be goofy with
the kids it took a year and a half two
years to really chip away at how
sarcastic I would be because five and
six-year-olds don’t understand sarcasm
and need like even the sixth graders
didn’t understand the sarcasm that I
would use when I was teaching like a
high school orchestra even something as
simple as they would finish and like
great guys really really outstanding and
then like sixth graders hear that and
they go oh really look at my eyes do
they look like happy eyes well I’m
saying would you be able to like be run
a band program or something yeah I mean
I would have to do a lot more practicing
building stuff back up again I try just
to every so often look through like
finger charts of stuff so I still
remember how to play clarinet just in
case you phoneme student soon it Bach to
rock I did I can file in yeah how do you
see him I had a violin I had a flute II
had a viola I think and then like drum
bass guitar piano that was I mean I
think part of why I got that job I don’t
necessarily know if that might have been
serendipitous to that they had like five
students coming in and they interviewed
me and I just so happened to be able to
teach all of those instruments like
perfect bring him in
them all up yeah it’s fun teaching
multiple different instruments like
giving you break and you get to baby
sharp yeah you get to like kind of learn
how to play that instrument you get to
practice that instrument yeah or and
like maybe you’re not gonna be able to
take them to an advanced level but you
get to keep your basics sharp like
you’re saying yeah I can I can teach
everything to like a middle school level
and then that’s where you kind you have
to know that you have to be able to
explain expression but also technical
stuff and then like high school to a
point yeah it’s assumed that they either
practice or they have the technical
aspect down so like I’m not the best
violin player but I know what you need
to do to make it sound better but I I
wouldn’t be able to do that myself right
whoever it is like just the bow needs to
be longer like because you can
understand technique without actually
playing it like yes I know what Travis
style finger picking is but my technique
for it is not accurate I don’t think
yeah yeah no I agree with that it’s like
same thing with like for me sweeping you
know I can show you how to sweep I can
take you through exercises how to sweep
but me in terms of me being a little
sweet button now like I don’t have a
need for that so I don’t practice that
every day but yeah no absolutely it’s
like yeah right right right it’s like in
sports I mean if all these like tennis
you’ve got the some you know fifty to
sixty year old guy coaching some twenty
year old who’s the best in the world but
they still have a coach that’s not
nearly as good as them but that coach
understands what they need to do to play
better yeah outside opinion yeah I mean
it’s at college yeah so you still
haven’t really gotten around it like
what is your what do you think it’s
gonna corner you show no I know you and
I yeah boy I went to school originally
to teach the instruments and stuff but I
found that this fits better for me like
I I mean every day I hate it but that’s
part of I think every
does with any of their job really unless
your I mean Joe there’s gotta be gigs
where you like I don’t want to go play
this and then but you like I won’t gotta
go yeah that often sometimes its effort
maybe you’re just not in the mood but
when you’re there it’s rarely is playing
on yes fun that’s true it’s always I
want to make here whatever it is yeah I
like it yeah I think it depends on what
you’re doing and who you’re working with
I know for me I’ll fully admit this
there are times when you know there’s a
split second where I arrive at work and
I sit in my car and I go just because
you know like if you had for me cuz I’m
teaching students if I had fully engaged
students I wouldn’t ever have that
feeling you know if I had I know if I
had you know people that I was going
into who are excited about what they’re
doing
it’d be a different story but because
you’re going into people who you know
you’re sitting there going I am gonna
walk into that classroom and they’re
they’re not gonna have anything done and
we’re gonna do the same exact lesson
plan as we did last week
where’s on you yeah oh that does it
wears on you and that’s that moment of
sitting in the car going like I love my
job I wouldn’t rather do anything else
because you know Here I am getting to
play guitar and rock and rollin awesome
yeah great but at the same time like oh
I had an interesting conversation with a
like a classroom teacher so music are PE
were specialists whatever classroom
teachers are the ones who I mean in the
classroom with the desks but it was an
interesting conversation because she was
posted something like on Facebook about
like I do this because I love teaching
they’re like do you love this job and I
was like I like it
they’re like what do you like but I
to play out like theirs if you see me
like when I’m playing a gig or something
like that like when I’m playing when I’m
really getting to play like the 90s man
playing something hard fast whatever
singing you see then like oh there’s
love there’s passion there and it’s like
I do love the teaching job but when you
compare I mean it’s not the same so it’s
like no I can’t I don’t I have such a
high standard for what like if I got if
I could do that forever I would like if
I could play a gig every night and
supplement income and live off of that I
would but yeah it’s not that easy and
this job is still in the field I wanted
to do it’s still what I like and every
traditional sense of go out get a job
whatever it’s what I wanted to do so I’m
not like I really can’t complain and
elementary school is good because when
I’m done at the end of the day I’m done
yeah I don’t have like marching band
after school or like on Fridays if I did
high school band you have football games
or basketball games whatever right and I
can’t do that because I got gigs right
or countless out even if you were doing
like high school
you know countless hours of grading
papers and all that I’m still I’m always
there before and after my contract hours
whatever I think we’re only contracted
seven and a half hours a day cuz that’s
like how long the school day is and plus
like plus or minus 10 minutes but I mean
if you’re not there like nine hours at
least you’re not getting anything done
there’s so much to do all the time right
do do you have to use all the Virginia
like the standards of learning and write
out like today I’m my lesson plan is
gonna use Sol standards of learning 10.2
E and I’m gonna do this in order to
teach the kids this thing in the
curriculum yes and no in elementary
school it’s advised that you should have
anyway an agenda or like whatever like
put up what it’s gonna be I don’t
necessarily have to write like so
standard of learning this right but I
can just say like for first grade it can
be like play bar to instruments DNA and
they’re just playing DNA on a beat
whatever it is I don’t have to write
down the specific that’s
like 1 /b slash 37 students learned to
play it it’s there we have a program of
studies and Fairfax County is is really
is a really really good County for music
like nationally recognizes they’re
they’re pretty supportive so it’s
fortunate there but so we have like a
standard thing and it’s just we go
through that we make sure myself and the
other music teachers in the school at
the start of the quarter with each grade
whatever it is what are we trying to
learn what are the lessons we know that
can teach that so you present your
semester before you at the beginning of
the semester yeah yeah it’s there’s a
lot of I mean everything’s a lot of
planning but there’s a lot of like
reactionary stuff too so we’ll look and
go okay we we want to hit these topics
like we won’t do instruments with the
younger kids for maybe the first nine
weeks or the first two nine weeks
because we want them to
I mean kindergarten we want them to sit
in their assigned space that’s the nine
weeks which is doing things like
learning how to do school right spend so
much time just doing school with the
younger kids and you get into the music
and it’s like oh okay
now we can like have fun after just
months of like nope we’re gonna practice
coming in silently no no go back out
we’re gonna do this again that’s not
silent and you’re just drilling routines
that makes me think of that Pink Floyd
the we don’t need no education or videos
the meat-grinder
yeah it’s not I mean it’s not that bad
obviously was different from Shawn’s got
a ruler and I wish you can’t do that you
just you find other ways to you
discipline and I’ve got and um
Blake’s there at times my wife will be
like hey don’t talk to me in teacher
voice and I don’t realize it yeah
because I have to like I went from just
kind of talking however to being like
it’s there’s a deliberateness to
everything you say in elementary school
to kids will take things very literally
and we understand sarcasm there’s a way
if you tell the kids I need you to do
this they won’t listen nearly as much as
if you straight up go you need to do
this then it’s what they’ll be much more
reactionary to it because the onus falls
on them it’s not like them doing you a
favor
there’s a lot of weird little things
like that and I’ll say something
whatever it is I’m like I don’t know if
that was the most successful thing and
she’s like don’t use teacher voice just
say it yeah teaching it’s interesting
that’s for sure mm-hmm remember in
school I was very I did not like the
standards of learning that that aspect
of like lesson planning like having to
plan to that the giant book of stuff
somebody who wrote this thing our group
of people wrote out this incredibly
detailed thing I was like this is not
how music is supposed to write work look
making everyone learn this detailed
curriculum I mean I I get why they have
to do it but it was not I didn’t enjoy
having to plan around that and like they
would make us like in school we had to
write out which standard we were gonna
teach and how it was gonna how what we
were gonna teach was gonna you know
teach the kids what they needed to learn
for the state’s curriculum yeah yeah we
have that and I mean like I hate
recorder but we have to teach it like
it’s a county requirement and I hate it
every year I teach more of it than I did
the previous year because I’ve gotten
better at it but also like it’s my first
year I was really just trying to avoid
it as much as possible her teacher was
like dude you have to do like you’re
gonna have to do recorder Austin the
kids loved it they loved it for like a
year because they get to play an
instrument and then the next year they
can sign up for strings and then they
play like real instruments if you will
and they don’t necessarily care for a
recorder then I get it like it’s a good
tool it helps reinforce learning how to
read notes on this staff so late
we do all that the kids can read e to F
at least like the staff before we even
give them a recorder
however faster slow they can read it
they can read it because you have to
figure out then like you have to if you
don’t know the note like you’re not
going to be able to look at that without
a label and go okay so if I see that
note my fingers have to go this way to
make this specific sound and like when
the kids hey what happened to the
letters like they’re not there anymore
why cuz they won’t be there when you
read real music they’re not gonna write
yeah I mean you can sit if you really
want to and write out the each note like
the letter of each note but then I’ll
hand them like a piece of using go do
you want to do that for all of this and
they’re like no I always ask a kid I’m
like I’ll write the letter E and I’ll be
like what letter is that and they’re
like it’s an E I’m like how did you know
it was an E you know like because it
looks like an e I’m like no it has a
vertical line and three horizontal lines
coming off of it you see that now so now
look at the staff you see this line on
the treble clef second line up that’s a
G you have to just remember just like
you recognize the shape of the letter e
you’ll learn to recognize the letter G
on the staff I’m gonna steal that e
thing that’s really good yeah you can
use any letter you want yeah but you how
do you know because it has this this
looking for the specific things yeah I
love looking at they’re like a little
kid their face they’re like what do you
mean how do I know that’s an E mm-hmm is
this look of confusion yeah the thought
process that happens I found that you
know it tends to give that anyway when
it’s like something or like one plus one
is two how do you know that well because
like you taught it like that’s it’s one
plus one what do you mean it is it would
be it would be really cool if they could
take in instead of recorders if they
could have you know if they had the
funding to put a keyboards in every
class yeah I think that would be
potentially more useful in the long term
the general student body yeah that’s
everybody I tell the kids to is they
hardly ever see me play piano because I
can’t play piano so if I’m ever doing
something you can play piano and you’re
nope this is the extent of my skills if
you’re taking piano you should stay with
it if you’re not taking piano you should
probably start because the thing I
regret the most I had no idea though
like when I was growing up drumming and
stuff that I was gonna end up like being
a music teacher and by the time I knew
that it was like junior high school
senior you’re doing auditions and stuff
but I still thought that was like band
orchestra I had no idea that like the
one instrument that I really didn’t
learn is the one that would be so
beneficial to this job didn’t you have
to play marimba and xylophone vibes in
college yeah as a classically trained
percussionist mostly so like doing
drumset now’s a lot of fun but the thing
that I spent the most time on just
growing up was marimba xylophones like
concert snare concert percussion but
mostly the melodic instruments I was in
the percussion ensemble and I was one of
the better like marimba players for
melody marimba so like my skills were
needed there and people who were better
at just the straight-up battery stuff
would be doing the harder like regular
percussive parts and then at school
that’s part of it too you have to go
through whether or not I was training
for like an orchestra audition we would
practice all of the excerpts any famous
thing that we would do for Orchestra
auditions so xylophone timpani work drum
set is the thing that I had the least
amount of formal instruction on in
college we did some but a lot of times
like the kids who play drums in college
where the jazz drum majors like that’s
what they did was just kit so they would
said their lessons were just drumset my
lessons were like 15 things so here’s a
here’s a crazy question coming from your
perspective and if we want to transition
we can transition or we can stay in the
education field if we want to but coming
from your experience
having marimba and almost like a tonal
approach to percussion yeah how does
that play a role when you sit down and
play a kit like how do you hear a kit
totally and and the how what importance
does that play when you’re playing
mm-hmm it’s I I know that it’s a huge
part of like how I play the drums and
person who taught me drumset when I was
growing up to like before college and
stuff he was also very very musical
taught me to like listen to music
sometimes we did lessons I remember my
mom would be like what the hell am I
paying the money for if you just sat and
listened to like kind of blue for an
hour I was like well we were there was
more to it than that that’s right like
picking things up but the
classically-trained this so having
having a like an ear for melody and
stuff and going through college and
playing Orchestra pieces where I would
pass it for minutes at a time I get to
hear the orchestra and if nothing else
is started with being like I didn’t have
to count my rest because I would hear
Owen the French horn does this lick I
have four measures until I have to play
right so things like that and then it
translates I’m just trying to think like
in the Cairo song train rolls fast the
riff doing better nananana boom I go
around the Tom’s to do doo doo doo doo
boo like to compliment
so I things like that like when I I
don’t think I’m I mean I’m certainly not
the best drummer I know I would and I’m
not the most technical but like the
thing that I would bring to abandon I’ve
said that like when I reach out to other
bands they hears stuff what I do if I’m
trying out for a band and like what I’ll
bring up I might not be the best one
that you have in terms of like playing
faster chops but I will be the most
musical people that you like try out
with well if there’s a hit on the e of
two I’m gonna like I’ll hear it and I’ll
pick it up and whatever it is a little
kick to accent your thing – yeah yeah
how about well how about like individual
drums and like when you’re playing the
kit in terms of like tuning or symbols
in the different the different tones
that you can get out of a cymbal yeah
that’s yeah I mean it just depends and
what’s nice in all these groups that we
have practice so I get to really mess
around with stuff and figure out like if
I want to use the bell of a cymbal
that’s gonna have that really sharp like
ping on the ride as opposed to just like
something more smooth and mellow like
toms there’s ways to tune them where you
can tune them to set pitches I try not
to tune them to any specific set pitch
they’re gonna have a tone like I think
my upper Tom sounds closer to a B but
it’s not that wasn’t my intention that’s
just where it sat and started to sound
good at like the the depth I wanted it
to sound like mm-hmm because if it’s I
mean if you tuned too much like well I
can’t what I’m gonna want like trash
Carter Beauford or like Neal peered who
have the kits with a hundred and fifty
thousand drums but they’re like two
specific pitches right so like I’m not
gonna hit this Tom that’s an a if we’re
playing a song in G sharp right things
like that so to avoid X I only have two
Tom’s I try to have it so that it’s just
basically snare like low sound lower
sound without any specific pitch okay
because it will sound weird that’s why
you’re otherwise that’s why this the
ride cymbals are have all the like the
random hand hammered ding so that
purposely doesn’t have a pitch yeah
exactly gonna conflict with the key of a
song or something yeah like via the bell
at the start of train is I’m rings
closer to a C than anything else and
it’s mostly fine except one time I tried
to use it in a song in d-flat and like I
hit it oh my god this is this is
horrific those of you that don’t know
Shawn’s got an incredible ear I think
like you would always I mean you’re
close to close to perfect pitch only
when you have very good relative pitch
right yeah
pretty good pitch oh that’s came from
high school senior year during study
hall I would hang out down in the music
rooms like in the music wing and I’ll
just go into the piano practice room
turn my back to the piano push a note
and then alright is that G turnaround
crap it was he and like I just did that
for 45 minutes a day basically and by
the end of my senior year I could like
if you go hey what’s B sound like beaten
hmm B he’s pretty close to there now
that’s that’s cool though I it seems
like the benefit of that to you in that
Wow Wow
so uh that was incredible not only is
that a good party trick but in Cairo’s
rehearsals Shawn was able to pick out
and sing harmonies very very efficiently
and in tune like it was a great skill to
have so it is worth your time as a
musician to develop you’re here yeah
yeah that’s another thing that I burn
and like to bands for my Sam the musical
drummer I guess to touch on that Isis
man it’s weird talking about yourself
someone but like you’re on the musical
couch Shawn I get really though but we
were playing harder to breathe by maroon
5 and the guitar player yesterday he
instead of doing Bonham he was doing
bunneh
like in the major he’s like I can’t
figure out the riff what’s going on no
no no go down a half oh I reached out
and took his finger went in that fret
and they got burn it hug you’re right
you’re right yeah yes so I do that or
I’ll remember like how songs go I have a
good memory for words and structure and
stuff and I think drummers in general
kind of get that because you’re not
playing anything melodious if you’re
like in rehearsals for stuff when even
whenever we were trying out ideas in
Kairos
would mostly just be there on two and
four at first to hear how stuff is
pickup accents pick up where things go
so I think it works that way I mean you
just you hear because the drum like if
at its base you need to keep good time
if you can do two and four and keep good
time like you’re set because the music
will sound good around you but if you
can actually like listen to you
everybody else the drums are that says
accents everywhere it might not
necessarily be melodious but I like to
think of songs that I play you could
follow the drums like is if they have a
melody to yeah this is what we were
talking about with Joe ham of El Sistema
last week or a couple weeks ago I was a
drummer a jazz drummer I recently played
with you came on the show we plays
everything but I remember in particular
we were playing st. Thomas team by Sonny
Rollins and like he took a drum solo and
you could absolutely hear he played the
rhythm of the melody perfectly and he
chose his drums so it’s like you really
could pretty much hear the melody at
least if you had ever heard that melody
like I didn’t have to count that you
know during his drum break I could hear
it right like you hear it in in jazz too
if people are trading for whatever the
guitar sets up a lick and then the drums
will be like oh if nothing else
rhythmically it might be something that
compliments yeah yeah it’s like triplets
going up maybe he’ll do triplets going
like around the Tom’s do to do like to
go in the opposite way but it’s call and
response type of things yeah I mean you
just gotta love we all love listening to
that’s like listening to music
I think that’s if you don’t if you don’t
like to really listen but you like to
play you’re not gonna play as well yeah
that’s very true and why we try to
reinvent the wheel there’s so much good
music out there to listen to and learn
like mm-hmm it’s sometimes I think
sometimes I wonder if it’s like stunting
my creativity because I’m not coming up
with my own thing but then I stop and
think like oh
I could spend the next year trying to
develop my own like unique thing or I
could just listen to like what this
other amazing player did learn their way
and modify that a little bit and it’ll
be way more efficient with my time yeah
thing is incredibly important yeah you
don’t want to like take from your
influences or like emulate somebody
specifically but at the same time like
like what you said I’ll do that too I’ll
be like all right I’m not gonna try to
start something new how’s this person
playing this listen and then you’d take
it and kind of chip either part of their
technique away or you put more of your
stuff into it yeah so you try to take
something that night so this is somebody
else’s like style but I’m making it into
my own little thing because how many how
many new ideas really can there be in
music like I know technically there’s an
infinite number of notes and stuff but
there’s there’s 13 notes like there’s a
finite number of ideas and stuff where
you can go like oh no I swear this is
completely original well how come it
sounds like Beethoven cuz everything
sounds like Beethoven like that’s why do
you okay in public school do you get to
listen with your students is there a
designated listening time no I try to
make it for the older kids we we have
like we will designate there’s no like
music appreciation class but like in the
general music we have we’re pretty
flexible that curriculum is pretty broad
our admins supportive of they’re just
like if they come in they want to see
that we’re working they don’t
necessarily know music they’re they’re
trusting that we can do our jobs which
is really nice and that’s part of that
we’ll do we’ll listen to stuff and link
with the sixth grade we listen to Aaron
Copland hoedown bent Internet no no no
no no no no no no no no no like what do
you think um they go it sounds like
Cowboys I’m like yes that’s the point
need stuff like that so you try and like
um a lot of times my listening
activities are sub plans if I’m not
there I’ll have like whatever songs like
I used to do this it the first job I got
right out of college it would just be
like maybe there’s a Beethoven song and
then maybe there is a song by like
blink-182 or something more appropriate
for school but like a punk song and it
would be like you have whatever the
question like why did the drums do
whatever or write down instruments you
hear just any sort of thing that they
have to do some element of listening
even if it’s in a vague sense of oh I
heard a violin I heard a cello yet get
them to actively listen rather than just
kind of passively
yeah yeah yeah if they have to zoom in
and try to figure out each instrument I
like that exercise too do you have
restrictions so if you were to play if
you were to take the time and make sure
that a blink-182 to song didn’t have
anything mm-hmm any you know lyrics that
were inappropriate you’re allowed to
play that for the kids yeah well I don’t
know if you mean from like a legal like
a copyright reason technically anything
we do is like legal to a degree because
it’s used for educational purposes so
that’s you get to do that and skirt any
sort of like copyright thing so like
when I do the Friday songs people think
you should make a CD of those now no
because you would want to buy it and as
soon as somebody pays even a dollar for
it becomes the whole copyright thing as
opposed to just being a fun educational
tool I think it’s it’s school to school
playing a seminar admin kind of lets us
do our thing which is nice so like they
trust our judgment and that’s I mean
that’s good in bad for me like if that’s
if I do something like I haven’t I’m
assuming because I still have a job or
whatever I haven’t played like a bad
song mm-hmm and that would be like and
made a poor choice because then that
comes back to oh we heard this in mr.
Rogers class and then it’s like oh right
but most things and like the kids will
say hey can we do like I want to hear
this song or whatever and I gotta hold
on I punched in and I look up the lyrics
and if nothing else I will read the
words and I’ll just make a judgment call
that I know we can’t listen to that okay
there’s a bad word in it and then the
sixth graders are like we hear bad words
all the time and I don’t you
but there’s a thing called context right
hey I know and I’ve heard you say bad
words to each other on the playground
but you notice how you don’t say them in
the building yeah why’s that cuz adults
are around aha
it’s like there’s also adults around the
adults too so we don’t get to like say
or do the thing like there’s there’s a
level of appropriateness that everybody
has to like adhere to yeah and obviously
sometimes even if there isn’t
language within the song it would be
about the context of exactly what
they’re actually talking about yeah who
wrote that it wasn’t that worried yeah
that was okay well anyway I’m glad bit
to know that you can play modern music I
like it astounds me how a little kid I
mean maybe it shouldn’t like they’ve
only been alive for five six years and
maybe their parents don’t listen to good
music but and that’s brought you know
good music is personal taste but I would
say most parents music well there’s
something scientific about how when you
get older you’re genetically predisposed
against the younger generations like
music tastes so like when I go oh they
don’t listen to parents their parents
that are about my age but if they didn’t
grow up listening to their dad’s records
the way I did we’re gonna have very
different taste in music than like who’s
your favorite band I’m like like
Zeppelin or Hendrix or something like
that I’m like who’s your favorite band
and like with Travis Scott hot right now
I don’t you’re just saying words oh it
kills me is when you ask a student you
know what do you listen to and they’re
like nothing you know like what are your
mom and dad listen to
they don’t really listen to music here
and that happens more often than not and
that it’s our job to come in and fix
that and I move it you and other public
school teachers continue to have the at
least the flexibility to play a song
that has appropriate content you know he
writes you to kids some you know if they
like listening to music they’re gonna be
more interested in playing music right
it’s gonna set off the snowball the
they’re gonna want to be musicians or at
least take an interest if they if all
they ever get to listen to is Aaron
Copeland you might lose a kid in those
critical years when they might decided
they wanted to really practice an
instrument but instead they just weren’t
really inspired by the music they were
hearing yeah
as I’ve tried to use modern stuff for if
I mean anything even if it’s the younger
kids and we’re just practicing like
moving to a steady beat one of the songs
I’ll do is something in the oh I know
that song cuz then they’re engaged if
nothing else like which song it’s just
anything if we’re just practicing moving
to a beat I’ll take something like
what’s on the radio right now and if
there’s something that’s popular or like
when I can’t stop the feeling came out
that was everywhere and I used that
constantly because the kids all know the
song they all love this song it’s fine
for school yeah but it’s it’s modern
it’s new it’s something they want to
listen to there’s also still musical
elements to that like yeah I did
small sixth ring class and we broke down
how like the top like six songs on the
radio all sound exactly the same I’m not
gonna go there nevermind but I was one
thing I was gonna say is I do I my
four-year-old daughter
within literally the past three days I
caught her singing young blood by 5
seconds of summer and I was just like
how you’re you’re like four years old
you’re singing this whole like you’ve
got the melody down you’ve got the whole
structure of it actually going on and
I’m like that’s she’s clapping to the
beat that’s that’s awesome that’s music
that does that though more than like
words don’t stick we’re teaching fourth
grade right now and like one of my
favorite units we do follow the drinking
gourd it’s a slave song and we teach
them about hey it’s a whole map from
Alabama up to Canada how you do all
these things they’ll take you to freedom
and then when we’re like why would you
sing it there’s a bunch of reasons but
then I go we’ll think of it this way I
mean when I talk to you how many words
do you really hear of them to get like a
little laugh then I’ll go to the piano
and play like the McDonald’s jingle and
they go that’s McDonald’s I’m like I
didn’t have to tell you that you just
knew that from the melody like that’s if
I sing something to you and I get
whatever it is whatever directions if I
can sing it to you in a way they get
stuck in your head you’re gonna remember
it because you can’t get it out of your
head yeah I’ve mentioned it before
still podcast called 20,000 Hertz and
they did an actual episode on jingles
why they stick in our heads and how
effective they are for branding and
panasonic’s Gilman yeah it’s crazy it’s
crazy
and that is where we’re gonna end it for
today join us next Thursday as we
continue the reunion with Sean Rogers in
part two of our episode while I have you
don’t want to say thank you for
listening if you have a moment go over
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song challenge it’s a pretty cool this
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trying to come up with new material
every month and challenging yourself as
a musician all new material nothing old
so it’s all fresh stuff and pushing
yourself to the limits only you nobody
else no collapse and then join us on
YouTube at the end of the month for a
live session as we give feedback on all
of our submissions and talk about what
we’ve done it is definitely a good time
so yeah thank you for joining us once
again and we’ll see you next week on
fret buzz the podcast

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