This week I visited Martin Luther King Elementary in Benton Harbor, MI.
When we got to MLK, I set my harp and gear up in the center circle of the basketball court. That’s what that circle is for, isn’t it — it’s the electric harp circle, right?
We added lights and amplifiers – and – BOOM! – Transformation. Gym/cafeteria/auditorium became a concert hall!
The kids filed in and filled the bleachers. Principal Freddie McGee laid down the law: anyone disruptive would leave.
The lights went down. The show began. The kids – and the teachers – were INCREDIBLE. Listening, singing, asking questions. Coming onto stage with me – becoming a dance troupe, playing the harp. Wow!!
I was so proud to be there! So impressed that the Southwest Michigan Symphony and the Director of Fine Arts for the Benton Harbor Area Schools, Denisse Santos, made this project happen; that it was funded with a grant from Berrien Community Foundation; that the CAMAC harp company made me an instrument so light, strong and powerful that I can bring anywhere, can literally put it into the hands of kids, who can hold it and play it – and then I can take that same instrument and play a symphony concert with it. I loved that MLK Principal McGee and every teacher took this experience so seriously. I loved that we could all create a moment of focus and connection in a gym in Benton Harbor and transform that gym into a real concert hall.
And when one student asked the question “How do you get so good at the harp?” I stopped and asked myself how do you get good at the harp. And right there – right then, I suddenly knew the answer: that it takes only two things. Only two things you need to do anything: Focus … and practice.
(Say it again: Focus … and practice.)
That’s what I learned at MLK Elementary today.
But … there’s just one other thing.
That principal – Freddie McGee — wow, wow, WOW! Why did I not have a principal like that??!?!! Focused and firm … and …
… and … AND HE COULD BREAKDANCE!!!!
Why did my principal never … ever .. not even once … breakdance in the middle of a lecture on appropriate behavior???
And that’s the second thing I learned at MLK Elementary this week: I want to go to the principal’s office RIGHT NOW and learn to breakdance with the harp!
OMG what an incredible experience to have you visit our school!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this happen for us!!! You are a true inspiration to us all! And you are welcome to visit our principal’s office and learn how to breakdance at any time!!