Louis Braille School Welcomes Blues in the Schools to Summer Camp
by Julie LeMay
Back again, AND AGAIN, by popular demand! James “Curley” Cooke and Annette Taborn came to the Louis Braille School summer Braille Camp twice, much to everyone’s delight.
To start the second session off, Curley asked for some definitions of the blues. Yes, it is a state of sadness and it is a color, but singing the blues does not always mean that one is sad or melancholy. As Annette explained, you can sing a blues song to cheer you up.
The first song on the agenda was one written in the 1920’s called “Working Blues.” Curley requested that the children stomp their feet in time with the rhythm. As soon as the first note was struck, campers wasted no time in clapping and stomping and laughing. Annette sang the lyrics and played the harmonica between stanzas.
Harmonicas for each child were passed around, and Annette explained that the low notes were located on the left side and the high notes on the right. She taught them that the sounds you make when you draw your breath in were different than the sounds when you blow out. The cacophony during the “practice” session was quite amusing. “Hound Dog,” the ever-popular song that was a hit when the Blues visited the Louis Braille School last year, was greeted with the same excitement. There was howling and barking aplenty, along with all harmonicas sounding off at once.
“Who wants to play the guitar?” inquired Curley. Explaining how the pick works, he strolled around the room as each child had a turn at strumming. There were many proud faces around the circle.
Annette explained about her case which held eight harmonicas, all the same in appearance, but with different musical keys.
Percussion time! The children chose a tambourine or a gourd. Curley and Annette performed “I Got My Mojo Working.” Annette explained that a “mojo” was a Southern term for a magical charm. The children joined in on the chorus while furiously shaking and banging on their instruments.
Whew!! Time for the last song. “Iko, Iko” is a rousing New Orleans song performed during Mardi Gras. Again, the children joined in with their harmonicas.
Thanks, again, Curley and Annette, for another great blues session.
The Blues in the Schools program continues to be a part of the curriculum at the Louis Braille School.
Julie LeMay is a Louis Braille School Volunteer