Here are some pieces I’ve written about Mr. Clark’s Big Band recently, as well as a link to a review:
Music Lessons from Mr. Clark: A column I wrote about the lessons I, a non-musician, learned from watching Jamie Clark teach his students over the course of a school year. An excerpt:
When the Big Band performed an aching rendition of “Kaleidoscope” — the jazz piece composed for them by Erik Morales — at the Eric Green memorial service in June 2013, in front of Eric’s family in a packed auditorium, I, personally, graduated from music school, the school of Mr. Clark. I didn’t learn how to read sheet music. I still couldn’t sing. I couldn’t blow a note on a trumpet, but I learned, firsthand, about the stunning power of music and one teacher to give young people the guidance, safety and comfort they desperately needed in order to move on.
Mr. Clark’s Big Band — A Year of Laughter, Tears and Jazz in a Middle School Band Room: The blog Michigan Mom Living reviewed the book saying,
Not an easy book for O’Brien to write since she was personally touched by this story and then to take the time to spend an entire school year figuring out the WHY of Mr. Clark’s jazz band being possibly therapy for the students’ grief? In this story, O’Brien writes the daily on-goings in the band room and regarding jazz band performances. Some stellar, most were not as she was trying to unravel the meaning and tightness of this band and their band leader. Why was it that everyone loved this class and respected the band leader, Mr. Clark, so much? Was it because he pushed them, believed in them, made them feel they had something more to share? Join O’Brien as she daily reflects the monotony of practices and performances of achievement failure and closure in this non-fiction [book]. This novel is geared toward adults, but highly recommended for Middle School and up as it will touch some great points for students.
5 Lessons from Mr. Clark: How Risk-Taking Teaching Can Benefit Kids: A blog post I wrote for SmartMusic about how Clark’s unorthodox teaching approaches to his students helped them get through a difficult year. This includes quotes from Clark’s colleagues and former students. A sample:
Tom Griffin, a teacher at Trottier, said students are drawn to Clark’s honesty. “I think they adore him,” he said. “He is so open with them and truthful. They are willing to go to the ends of the earth to do what he wants. … They trust him beyond all belief.”
Former student-teacher [Scott] Morrill said students tolerate Clark’s frankness about their playing because they say he cares deeply about helping them perform their best. “I think, a lot of time, teachers sugarcoat,” he said. “You know something, they needed [the honesty]. A lot of times, you get from teachers, ‘That’s good.’ What is ‘good?’ Sometimes you need colorful, graphic language.”
Image credit: SmartMusic via Twitter.