Teach the Beat!

Bringing the distinctive D.C. sound of go-go into the classroom.

Teaching for Change is honored to work with D.C.  area schools and the authors of The Beat! Go-Go Music from Washington, D.C. to develop lessons and share teaching ideas for infusing the history and music of go-go in middle and high school social studies, language arts, math, music, and/or D.C. history classes, and to bring renowned go-go performers into D.C. classrooms.

"Go-go has stayed true to time-honored cultural scripts such as live call-and-response, live instrumentation, as well as its locally rooted fashions, slang, dance, distribution and economic systems. Simply put: Go-Go never sold out. There is a grit and texture to the music that gives voice to the communities where it was created." –Natalie Hopkinson


September 27: Ju Ju at Garfield Elementary


Fourth and fifth graders in Mr. Brach Cobb’s music class participated in a go-go workshop with the legendary go-go drummer, Ju Ju House on September 27. Ju Ju introduced himself and shared some history of go-go music and then said to the children, “But today I want you to teach me about go-go music. This is your music. It comes from you and belongs to you, so I want you to teach me.”

Ju Ju proceeded to call students up in groups of four to improvise on various percussive instruments. He guided each one of them in discovering the rhythm for their instrument. Once each member of the Go-Go quartet knew their part, he asked another student to call “One, Two!” and the rest of the class would respond “Gimme that beat!” Each group of four would synthesize their parts and share their unique go-go rhythm. This became a “battle of the bands” and students were thoroughly inspired and engaged. During the final round, everyone danced and celebrated the creativity of one another. Everyone finished feeling like a winner.

Copyright  2013 The Beat. All Rights Reserved.

Website developed by Teaching for Change with support from
the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Image credits: Thomas Sayers Ellis