Tag Archives: Jr.

Patience in Teaching and Nick Burns, the Company Computer Guy

I sometimes get frustrated trying to assist my son with his math homework. He does well in school, but other subjects come easier to him than math. I on the other hand, had an easy time with math but had to work harder at other subjects.

Yet I’m aware that patience is one of the key characteristics of effective teaching. When I’m helping him with math homework, I try to remember what Business guru/speaker/author Brian Tracy says: “Everyone has the capacity to operate at genius levels at something.” It’s important to remember that we’re all wired differently and we’re just trying to use our strengths to help others.

I try to think of something that I’m not good at, and try to think about how frustrated someone might get trying to teach me. I wonder how Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would feel trying to teach me how to rebuild a carburetor or how Paula Abdul might feel showing me a few dance moves.

In an effort illustrate how ridiculous we look to others when you get short-tempered, lose our patience, and speak in a condescending tone, here’s an example that concept exaggerated. It’s a skit from SNL with Jimmy Fallon portraying the geeky company computer guy, Nick Burns:


Related articles:
Music Teacher Advice from a Student: Get in the Trenches
NOCCA Applies Artistic Lessons to Mainstream Education: Building Education from a Blank Canvas
The Role of Education and of Music Ed.: Life Skills vs. Work Skills

NOCCA Applies Artistic Lessons to Mainstream Education: Building Education from a Blank Canvas

What if you could build a school curriculum from the ground up with little or no bureaucratic limitations that hamper the effectiveness of many educational institutions? What if you were armed with the lessons learned from having successfully educated thousands of artists in a unique setting and could apply those lessons to a mainstream education program.

That’s exactly the challenge that NOCCA has been presented.

NOCCA refers to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, an advanced program for young prodigies of music and the arts for high school-aged youths in New Orleans. Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, and Wendell Pierce are some of NOCCA’s esteemed graduates. Students who are accepted attend their traditional school in the morning and attend NOCCA in the afternoon, where they receive focused instruction in an artistically centered environment. For years, the faculty and staff of NOCCA have felt as though they could be more effective if they had the students in this environment all day…and that’s just the opportunity that they will have starting in 2011-12.

Dr. Robbie McHardy has been tasked with developing a traditional education program for NOCCA, but she is putting the “NOCCA DNA” into the curriculum. I attended NOCCA’s open studio day in November and was extremely impressed by their approach and by the opportunity that they have to be a model for other institutions. Here are some of the lessons from NOCCA’s artistic programs that will be staples of their academics:

1. Critique: NOCCA has determined that allowing students to receive feedback from their peers accelerates the learning process

2. Beginners Working Closely With Practicing Professionals: NOCCA will seek teachers who are passionate about their areas of expertise and models for their students

3. Teaching Attentiveness & Awareness: The key to learning is being aware of the learning opportunities around you

4. Individuality: NOCCA will spend a great deal of time doing assessments of their students early in the program to determine their strengths and interests, so that learning can be customized for their needs

5. Almost No Homework: While students will have long days at school (approx. 8:30 – 6:30), the concept is that free time should be spent relaxing and practicing their arts

6. Performance-focused: Though the academic studio will be rigorous and all students will have the same expectations of achievement that any school would require, there’s definitely a sense that teaching with a singular obsession toward passing tests is a flawed approach to education

Applicants for NOCCA must pass an audition, and they anticipate roughly 150-200 applications for only 60 spots in the full-day academic program in year one.

I wish Dr. McHardy and the faculty and students great success in the year ahead. Exciting times for a wonderful institution!

Here’s an overview of the academic studio from Dr. McHardy:

Happy 100th Birthday Louis Prima

In 1985, David Lee Roth’s recording of “Just a Gigolo” hit the Billboard top 40. While many of my friends who grew up in the era of music video considered it a new song, there was nothing new about the song if you grew up in an Italian-American family in New Orleans.

Louis Prima was one of the most dynamic performers of his era, and his 1950’s Vegas show was a favorite stop of many of the celebrities of the day, many of whom rose to greater levels of fame and success. But they realized that Louis Prima was one of the most dynamic musicians in the business, and he had a rare gift. No performer exuded the joy of playing music like Louis and his band (The Witnesses led by sax player Sam Butera).

My fellow Sicilian-American, New Orleans native would have been 100 years old today. His son Louis Prima Jr. currently performs a tribute show to his dad. The music of Louis Prima has been rediscovered by new audiences through remakes by David Lee Roth, Brian Setzer, and other artists. His music has also been re-discovered and utilized by TV commercial and film producers.

Prima’s success was a great source of pride in my family growing up, and it was only later in life that I began to understand why. Here’s one my favorite (thought somewhat lesser known) Louis Prima songs, “Banana Split for My Baby.” Happy Birthday, Louis.