No Sleep Till Brooklyn!

The Road to Service Learning

So What'Cha Want?

My initial Cycle C plan was to host a library database workshop for faculty this spring. Timing and scheduling has been a challenge, so that idea was tabled. Another idea I had was to use my librarian skills for the fifth grade service-learning project, but my role became moderator for student collaboration during advisory. Fortunately, a new opportunity presented itself in the form of Kay Bowen.

Ch-Check It Out

I leapt at the chance to collaborate with Kay on a first grade service-learning project. This would be a full-blown musical that would celebrate the neighborhood helpers, which would include librarians. What was asked of me didn't seem first:

  1. collaborate with Kay regularly - check
  2. work with first grade students - check
  3. practice and memorize my on-stage librarian role - check
  4. practice, memorize, sing, record, and film a rap music video - wait, what?!

Get It Together

My initial reaction was full-bellied laughs, followed by a sober statement of, "Oh, you're being serious?!" Kay had complete confidence that I could successfully rap an entire song - Ode to Librarians - and record the audio track and film an entire rap video! I was wrenched from my comfort zone, and flung in to the unknown. It took working with 6 and 7 year-olds to ease my stage fright and give me the nudge I needed to try something new. Armed with the support of my young students and amazing stage director, I began my musical journey.

Flowin' Prose

During Easter Break, I happily lost myself in poetry and verse, letting the rhymes and rhythm of words flow through me. Reading the works of Kwame Alexander prior to his school visit also invited a funny, yet insightful conversation with him. I had mentioned I was struggling with being able to rap a song about the library. At first there was contemplative silence, followed by a cheerful shout of, "You can do this!" What tips does a poet laureate and Newbery winner have for a rapping librarian? "Say it like you mean it. Don't just read the words; preach the gospel of the library!" I said a silent Amen to the heavens above for this sage piece of advice.

Make Some Noise

So how does a fledgling singer prepare to rap? I decided to immerse myself in some of my old-school favorites: Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash, etc. My constant go-to group was The Beastie Boys. I listened to my favorite songs, watched their hilarious videos, and practiced my rap lines every night. It didn't hurt to get an awesome assist from Mr. Gomez - a.k.a., Taboo - and to have the song and stage brilliance of Kay to guide me. I went from stumbling and laughing through my lines, to taking my role seriously and committing to knowing and singing my lines well. Of course, we all had a blast the entire time, finding humor and joy during our recording and filming sessions.

Rhyme the Rhyme Well

From beginning to end, I was able to see familiar people in a new light, and my admiration and respect for them deepened during this project. I am in awe of these young students who give it their all and don't suffer from self-awareness like the rest of us. I can now say from this side of the stage that it takes a lot of work to have the courage to be in the spotlight, in front of so many people. I was truly humbled by being an active member of this project.

Here's a Little Something for Ya

*Paragraph Titles: Songs by The Beastie Boys

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