June 2: Ju Ju at Phelps Architecture, Construction, and Engineering High School
Marching Band Students at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School (Phelps ACE) in northeast DC were incredibly grateful to have legendary go-go drummer Ju Ju House facilitate a rhythm workshop for them after school on June 2. Music teacher Andrew Green requested Ju Ju because of his expertise and ability to “help his students take their performance skills to the next level.” Specifically, he was hoping Ju Ju could teach the students how to separate the rhythms of Bounce Beats and Pocket Beats to different parts of the drumline.
Ju Ju did just that and so much more. After an introduction of himself and his generational history with music and go-go, he immediately launched into the lessons. He first listened to the songs the band played during the recent Emancipation Day parade in D.C. From there he worked with the students to understand how to improvise and enhance their part with bounce, pocket, and go-go beats. Through consistent affirmation of their hard work and talent, he worked with students individually, in sections, and with the entire band. From the guitar and congas to the keyboard and brass instruments, Ju Ju helped them to understand how it all comes together with the percussion and traps holding the beat. He held them accountable and assessed their understanding through a demonstration of the different beats. These focused students were up to the challenge and impressed Ju Ju with their skills.
Finally, through a series of questions and conversations, Ju Ju and the students improvised and created their own tune—a mix of go-go, funk, and reggae—that the students decided to call “Ju Ju-Phelps Beat.” They promised to fine tune it and perform it if Ju Ju promised to come back and jam with them. He happily agreed. The visit was funded by Office of the Chief of Schools of DCPS.