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Rapping 101: The New 'Schoolhouse Rock'

From Alexander Mayer | 04:17

A middle school in North Hollywood, CA is expanding its music curriculum beyond the traditional orchestra, band and choir. Oakwood Secondary School is now offering “Rapping 101” as a music-elective.


A middle school in North Hollywood, CA is expanding its music curriculum beyond the traditional orchestra, band and choir.  Oakwood Secondary School is now offering “Rapping 101” as a music-elective. 

Hey guys, How are you…”

Music teacher Justin Fabillar welcomes his students into his classroom. 

So today were going to focus on the “Group Rap.” ...its sort of similar to the sypher.  We haven’t had the chance to really write raps.. So today I’m going to play a couple videos of group rapping and were going to write.”

23-year old Fabillar is passionate about his subject. He says that hip-hop is like any other art-form: it allows students to express themselves:

Math, science, is all very important. But if you graduate high school and you don’t even know who you are, what you are, what you want to do… that’s more important in my eyes.”

According to Fabillar, middle school students have many academic expectations, but no creative outlet:

I think that self-expression should be something that everyone, not just kids, should have a firm grasp of.”

Some schools see hip-hop as more then just a form of self-expression.  Blake Harrison is co-founder of “Flowcabulary”, a Brooklyn-based business that develops hip-hop curricula for elementary and middle schools.

Students learn best when they’re engaged with what they’re learning. And so we create educational music and learning materials to teach students the kind of content they have to learn in school, but we do that through hip-hop music”  

…Content like math, science, language arts, and history. Blake’s company has even created raps that teach Shakespeare.  One of his songs, for example, takes its lyrics directly from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Teaching complicated subjects through pop-music isn’t new.  In the 1970’s, ABC Television developed “School House Rock”.  According to Harrison, music has always played a central role in the pedagogical process:

Rhymes are just so powerful as memory devices. …what we learn in rhyme, we retain far, far better then if we learn something outside of rhyme.”

But rap music, in particular, has been largely neglected by many educators. As Flowcabulary’s Blake Harrison says, educational hip-hop wasn’t an easy sell:

We found teachers and administrators to be very hesitant. They were pretty reluctant to believe that educational hip could be something that could teach. But when we show people that we can raise state test scores with hip-hop, they are much more likely to say that this is something that I can bring into my schools and after-school programs.”

At Oakwood Secondary School, Justin’s students are practicing their own raps, raps that have little to do with Shakespeare, or the circumference of the equator. This 7th grader, Jack, isn’t necessarily concerned with raising his state test scores; he just enjoys rapping.

“I really like this class because you can be creative… It’s cool because you can express what you want to say.”

Planned Parenthood Rally NYC

From Alexander Mayer | 10:10

Rally to renew federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

110223 New York, NY – On Saturday, February 26, celebrities, elected officials, musicians and women’s health leaders will join thousands of New Yorkers in Foley Square to rally and stand up for women’s health.
The rally comes on the heels of last Friday's passage of the Pence Amendment, a dangerous piece of legislation which, if made into law, would eliminate basic health care and education services for millions of Americans – and according to Department of Health estimates, 800,000 New Yorkers.
This Saturday, thousands from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, along with celebrities, musicians, non-profit organizations, and elected officials, will stand up for women’s health, and encourage Senators to reject the Pence amendment, and send a clear message to members of Congress that attacks on women’s health are attacks on all of us.