Teach the Beat Go Go Lesson

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Langdon Elementary School (DCPS) kicked off Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action in DC with a Teach the Beat lesson from international go-go artist, William “Ju Ju” House on February 4, 2019. Thirty fifth graders took turns jamming on Ju Ju's rototom drum set, a hands-on experience that taught them all about the pocket, Chuck Brown, and go-go's wider influence. Ju Ju explained:

This is your home music. New York made hip hop, Atlanta has down-south trap. D.C. has go-go. Go-go is important because it was created here by the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, and it is something that you own no matter where in the world you go! 

Students drummed out the classic go-go bounce beat with their hands and feet, and cued in their classmates who were playing the drums with a loud, "One! Two! Gimme that pocket!"

 
 

After everyone took turns in groups of three of four, Ju Ju took their questions. The adults in the room were surprised to see how little students knew about go-go. In response, JuJu issued a challenge: if they could sing five go-go songs on his return visit, he'd buy them pizza.

Principal Kemi Husbands, who is a D.C. native, said:

I'm so proud. There are so many myths aligned with go-go — that it's just for the younger generation, or only 'certain kinds' of people listen to go-go said When I tell people I used to stay at the go-go, they say, 'What! You?' I hope my students get more appreciation of go-go as a true art form.

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Iche Buchanan, fifth grade math teacher, said:

[Teach the Beat] sparked their interest. Now when they hear go-go on the radio they will make the connection. Go-go was made by Black people, and it shows our importance in this world. Without us there would be no go-go music! 

See more photos and video clips from the visit to Langdon Elementary School and from more Teach the Beat classroom visits in D.C. schools.

The Teach the Beat visit to Langdon was made possible by a donation to Teaching for Change from the Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation.

Mon2019Mykella Palmer