September 30: Sweet Cherie at Tyler Elementary School
Sweet Cherie played the piano and Robert Simmons, the Tyler Elementary School (DCPS) music teacher, played the Conga drum. Together, they created a musical relationship that improvised current songs while explaining the history and form of go-go music. Sweet Cherie came into the classroom with a wide smile, full of welcoming energy. She used this energy to lead call and response songs, improvise beats with Mr. Simmons, and guide them in using their own instruments. The two musicians worked easily together. As the conversation of the student’s musical knowledge flowed, Sweet Cherie and Mr. Simmons created a party-like atmosphere that called for everyone, including the teachers, to become involved in making the music.
As a testament to Sweet Cherie’s skills as not only a performer but also a teacher, she effectively engages students of all ages, as demonstrated by her unscheduled session with a pre-school class at the school. After Simmons engaged them in a movement song and dance, she asked for their favorite songs. With the help of Simmons, she created a go-go beat to the popular Mickey Mouse Clubhousetheme song. By using a go-go beat with a song of their choice, she defined the genre in a way that was relatable and easily understood by preschoolers. Then she handed out instruments so that the children could join in on the performance. [Description from Teaching for Change volunteer, Zanso Dalili.]