The sound of ICS

Tuesdays are busy in the music room - busy and noisy and full of movement. When music teacher Edward Wilson guided second graders through the major scale - do re mi - their hands formed gestures as their voices rose, note by note, through the octave.

[Today's blog is from Monitor correspondent Lee Lawrence.]

Tuesdays are busy in the music room - busy and noisy and full of movement. When music teacher Edward Wilson guided second graders through the major scale - do re mi - their hands formed gestures as their voices rose, note by note, through the octave. And when he beat out rhythms on an African drum, hands clapped a response, echoing the rhythms with the percussion of their palms.

But the best part perhaps was when they sang: It was not just with their vocal chords, but with their entire bodies. Shoulders shimmied. Hips swayed. Torsos rocketed back and forth. But not every shoulder and not to every tune. At one point, when Wilson's classroom was filled with third graders, he played them a new song set to a rap beat. Seated cross-legged to the teacher's right, one boy burst into hip hop moves. His elbows flapped, his torso buckled, his lips popped a percussive beat.

Around the room, some grooved to the rhythm while others listened, hardly a muscle twitching. Then another song came on, this time with African rhythms, and a boy on the other side of the room extended his arms into a sinuous dance.

The second boy was Bill Clinton, who I know spent the early years of his life in Tanzania. I don't know the background of the first boy. But what struck me was the way these two boys and the children, in general, responded to different rhythms. Yet they leaned in with almost equal enthusiasm when it came time to sing a song about ICS.

Written by second graders in 2006, the song celebrates what strikes me as one of the creative tensions at the heart of ICS: that children bring a smorgasbord of languages to a campus where they share English as a lingua franca.

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