Last night my high school music teacher and inspiration for Yellow Bike, became a finalist for the first-ever Music Educator Grammy Award. He’s in the top 10 out of 30,000 entries! And Kent Knappenberger has shaped and changed my life in so many ways. (I’ve written a little about it here and here if you want to read some) One of the huge ways that Kent has changed me is that Robin, my main character in Yellow Bike, is an incredible folk musician, under the direction of Mr. Knappenberger (or Mr. K, as his students call him). She’s part of a group called “The McClurg Street String Band,” which is a real folk ensemble made of high school students in the tiny town of Westfield, NY. Keep in mind, this high school graduates classes of 65 people. Kindergarten through 12th grade are all in the same building. But amazing music that comes out of this itty-bitty school, thanks to Mr. Kent Knappenberger. See the fantastic community that Robin comes from!
This video is the girls chorus, the Firecrackers, and the McClurg Street String Band itself! (skip to 6:24 to go right to the McClurg Street String band) Remember: these are high schoolers. I was so blessed to part of this program.
This video is the select choir, the Westwinds, and the guys’ chorus, the Ape-Men. Any guy who wants to be part of Ape-Men is welcome to join. (skip to 6:57 to go right to the Ape-Men). And speaking of Ape-Men, it’s too bad they’re not throwing bananas at the audience in this clip, because they’ve been known to do that.
And this video is the 120-voice, anybody-can-join chorus performing Rock Lobster by the B-52′s. Not particularly challenging, but a WHOLE LOTTA FUN! (and it’s being accompanied by students, too) If you want to see them perform more challenging stuff, go here. And for some holiday music, go here. PS- In the youtube links, the guys’ suits are bought and owned by the music department, because many of the guys in the community don’t own one and Mr. K wants to show them what it feels like to dress up and perform. Because it’s special- it’s a privilege.
And for a little more impressive fun: here’s the handbell ensemble. And seriously, this is one to watch: