The Next Level program continued into the second day, and continued to be quite incredible. We began the program with a couple of icebreakers to help introduce verbal and nonverbal communication and expression.
We got the entire group into a large circle and played the game “telephone.” DJ 2Tone explained about the filtration of messages, and gave the group a hip hop phrase (“hip hop, it started out in the park”); The phrase got passed around the circle and return in a quite different form. He discussed how messages change when filtered through different lens.
Then, he explained about how crowds communicate through motion and nonverbal messages. He explained about “The Wave” at sporting events. Then we held hands, and sent a wave through the circle. We continued two more times, going faster—then slower. Finally, while holding hands, we passed along a hand squeeze from person to person around the circle.
After the last exercise, we pulled the group in close concluded the program by discussing verbal and nonverbal communication. I explained that there are many ways of communicating both verbally and in a nonverbal fashion. We saw that basic messages can get misunderstood when passed through a long distance; we also saw that we don’t need to speak to communicate energy and meaning. I spoke about how hip hop began in communities that felt that people were not listening to their problems, or were not understanding their messages.
I talked about how hip hop offered an avenue to share their feelings about society around them through verbal and nonverbal messages via hip hop music and dance. I also explained that these communities in New York used hip hop to deal with issues in their own communities as a form of nonviolent means to deal with conflict, and tied that to India through Gandhi’s practice of nonviolence through symbols of verbal and nonverbal communication.
We took a break to do a yoga session led by one of the St. Karen faculty with the students.
We then divided up the students into two groups, and alternated them in 40 minute workshops on DJing and beatmaking.
DJ 2Tone Jones conducted a workshop on a brief history of Hip Hop and the DJ’s role within the culture. He explored some of the differences in sound and style between some of the genres that have influenced Hip Hop ranging from Disco to Reggae, as well as some Indian music. He spoke of how it was teens the same age of the present students that helped create hip hop. He spoke of hip hop as a lifestyle and a culture. DJ 2Tone also spoke of hip hop artists as “street journalists.” Lastly, he emphasized the importance of self-expression within Hip Hop and our expectations for the students to express themselves through the music, dance and performance that we will be creating throughout the Next Level program.
Meanwhile, beatmaking Ko setup a projector so he could show the students a video about the history of sampling, talked about break beats, and then had the students stomp and clap a simple “We Will Rock You” beat. The class then tried to transfer it over to the drum pad and he briefly explained the use of a click track/metronome. He had a few students take turns overdubbing drums into Reason. Finally they sampled a Bollywood song a student brought in, chopped it up and took turns playing it over the drums.
After the sessions, we finished the day with the PSA workshop session. Similar to yesterday, we dismissed the teachers to make it a safe space for the students to discuss their issues. As I mentioned in my previous update, we gave the students homework to come write out 3-4 lines on a issue that they felt was most pressing in their lives/community.
Today, we had the students pair off, and discuss the problem they had selected with a partner. After 5 minutes of discussion, we called them back and had them go around the circle and speak about what their partner thought was the most serious issue.
We received many variations on the topics we had identified already as fodder for the PSAs. We were very heartened to see a number of boys who brought up the issue of gender violence and gender inequality. We also had many answers related to the environment, as well as child labor.
We gave the students homework tonight of finding one verbal and one nonverbal example of how the issue that their partner chose was tackled around the world– in any medium (film, photo, music, theater, dance) that they could identify.