At IS 237, we had a smaller class, which was more variable. Unlike PS 288, where we had third and fourth graders, at IS 237, the class was made of sixth and eighth graders.
The usual suspects were Justin, the two (yes, two) Giovannis, Chris and Sheldon, and sometimes Kasun, Suleyman (Sonny), Alberto, Roberto, Mohammed and Natalie.
This year was a little different-- the grant at Wingate expired, F.K. Lane is being phased out and replaced by a new school, and all the new grants were for middle and elementary schools. So this time around I (Paul Rubenstein) taught at two middle schools, IS 281 (Bensonhurst, Brooklyn) and IS 237 (Flushing, Queens) and one elementary school, PS 288 (Coney Island, Brooklyn). At 281, we built electric guitars, while at 237 and 288, we played one-stringed movable-fretted electric guitars that I made for the kids to play. The advantage of movable frets is that we can set the frets so that all the available notes are in the scale we want (no wrong notes) and we have access to all the notes... not only the ones in the standard 12 tone even-tempered scale of contemporary Western music. We took the opportunity to explore scales from non-Western cultures, and purely experimental scales, including ones the kids came up with themselves. At PS 288, we also made balloon drums, and shakers (Click for video).
Third and fourth graders at PS 288 play on microtonal electric guitars, and percussion. Each guitar is tuned to A in a different octave. The lowest is the same as the open A string on an electric bass. The highest is the same as the 5th fret of the high E string of a guitar. Each one-stringed guitar has its own niche of the sonic spectrum, so there's less likelihood of stepping on each others' musical toes.
From top left, clockwise: Veronica, Shea, Kyron, Tywan, Rebecca and Romain. At the back table are Monica, Shamic and Nianne. We had 30 students, plus a waiting list-- some active participants not pictured include Quadiera, Khalia, Gilberto, Gerardo, Michelle, Eddie and Earl.
A special thanks and shout out to Rosemarie Sorrentino! Thank you so much for all your help!!!
A few choice selections from the music composed and recorded by the PS 288 kids: