During a week-long special session at the Washington International School, sixth and seventh-grade students participated in a workshop on go-go music organized by educator Allie Wilding. Students were introduced to go-go at the start of the session through an interactive gallery walk which provided background information on the music genre. The legendary William “Ju Ju” House then joined students for the second half of the workshop to teach them how to play go-go music.
Ju Ju taught students that go-go music is unique because it sounds like everyone is playing at the same time but in actuality, everyone plays at a designated time. At first, Ju Ju provided a visual demonstration to students, and then he showed students how a go-go beat is different than a bounce beat. Students were then called upon to play the drums, congas, and the cowbell. Ju Ju approached each volunteer individually and taught them to play the instrument. Ju Ju also taught a student who brought their guitar how to play a note during the performance.
Every student in the class had a chance to perform and before playing Ju Ju would say, “one, two” and the audience would respond, “Give me that pocket!”
During the end of the session, Ju Ju showed students a beat that is paired with the phrase, “chop barbecue and hot chop barbecue,” made famous by the founder of go-go, Chuck Brown. Three students who play the trumpet were invited to join the performance, and Ju Ju taught them a note that went along with the beat. With direction from Ju Ju and encouragement from their classmates, the trumpet players mastered the note.
As Ju Ju gathered his belongings to leave, one student, inspired by his teaching and impressive musical talents, asked him to sign her ukulele. At the closing of the class, it was evident Ju Ju left the students buzzing with energy and inspired to learn more about go-go music.