One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the focus on remote learning. To maintain physical distance, schools are more offering classes online. This is nothing new for the likes of institutions like Khan Academy, but now the process has become more widespread. It is quite possible that this approach to education may be part of the new normal after the pandemic subsides. This is a good thing because as strategic foresight practitioners for Autodesk, our team sees lifelong learning as part of everyone's future. Technology and the world are changing so rapidly that no longer can someone go to school for four years, learn, and then put that learning to use for decades as they embark on a career. Today, continuous learning on the job is what is required to do the job. So any technology that helps people learn, such as classes taught via Zoom, is a great addition to society. Learning can apply not just to the job but to any aspect of life.
Alameda is a small town in California near Oakland and San Francisco. When I say small town, I mean it in that it's often referred to as the Mayberry* of the Bay Area. I lived in Alameda for decades. Rhythmix Cultural Works is located in Alameda.
Rhythmix Cultural Works brings people of all ages together to experience and explore music, dance, visual art, and educational opportunities. The organization seeks to build community by inspiring engagement in the arts as a way to learn about each other and the world. With a strong commitment to providing programming relevant to the local population, Rhythmix strives to promote cultural awareness, encourage participation in the arts, and support artists in the presentation of their work.**
Though I am not a musician, I enjoy listening to music. Years ago, I took a class at Rhythmix that covered the Beatles White album. The class met for 8 weeks on Thursday nights. Rhythmix was not far from my home, and classes were held after work, so the decision to take the class was easy. I enjoyed it very much.
Now I live in Cypress which is the northwestern part of Houston, Texas. With nothing like Rhythmix nearby, I had assumed my musical education was over. Thankfully, pandemic-induced remote learning entered the picture. I am currently enrolled in a class called "It's All About the Song." The class meets on Thursday nights, 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm in my time zone. I attend classes via Zoom. Most of the attendees are from Alameda, but there are also students from Seattle and Salt Lake City. People from all over the world can continue their lifelong learning journeys with Rhythmix. Rhythmix Cultural Works is no longer confined to the small town of Alameda.
Our course is covering songwriters (one per week) and the contributions they have made to the history of rock 'n' roll. The syllabus includes Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, the team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Brian Wilson, the duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell. Through the use of audio, video, stories and live in-class performances, our instructor leads the class in looking at, listening to, and breaking down the musical and lyrical components of songs by these composers, so students can better understand and appreciate the artistry, insight, and social context these songwriters brought to popular music. I don't have a musical background and don't play any instruments, but I totally understand and enjoy the class.
The class is $25 per session. There are 6 sessions left.
So far, we've covered Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. In addition to listening to their songs and examining their lyrics and melodies, here are some fun facts that I picked up.
- Chuck Berry's first hit was "Maybelline" but the original title was "Ida May."
- Chuck Berry wrote "Roll Over Beethoven" because his sister was hogging the family piano to practice classical music, and he wanted a turn to practice rock 'n' roll.
- Chuck Berry invented his famous duck walk as part of a performance for the movie Rock Rock Rock!.
- The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson felt that "Surfin' USA" was so inspired by Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" that he gave Chuck partial writing credit and shared the royalties of his own volition.
- Holley is the correct spelling of his last name, but it was misspelled on a contract, and it stuck.
- Buddy Holly was one of the first artists to write, produce, and perform his own songs.
- Buddy Holly borrowed $1000 (a huge amount in the 1950's) to buy a Fender guitar and an amplifier. The cost was only $450, but he didn't tell his brother that.
- Buddy Holly's song, "That'll Be The Day," was inspired by a line from John Wayne's character in the movie, The Searchers.
- Buddy Holly proposed to Maria on their first date, and it was the first time she had ever been on a date. She said "yes."
I encourage anyone who has an interest in music to sign up. We're never too old to learn.
Remote learning is alive in the lab.