Jim McGee is a traditional musician who makes energetic music on guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, dulcimer, and vocals. This music draws people into the performance. His programs on blues, jug band and old time music offer students opportunities to play spoons, jug, washtub bass, and washboard with all the bells and whistles. The music is all related to what students like to listen to today. Jim also performs original songs and believes that folk tradition helps people create new songs and fresh forms of artistic expression.
For the past eight years, Jim has worked as a Counselor and Chaplain who provides expressive music therapy for children with emotional challenges, adolescents at-risk, adults, and older adults. With fifteen years of experience in audio and video production, Jim helps students to write their own lyrics, record their own CDs and produce their own music videos. Jim believes the arts are essential life-skills that help people to develop healthy self-expression, to feel good about themselves, to interact well with other people, to appreciate the beauty of nature and to care for the environment. He holds a Master Degree in Folklore, a Masters in Social Work, and Masters in Divinity. Jim enjoys using music to help students learn about social studies, English, history, music, and language arts. Jim had also provided in-services and education for teachers on topic such as “Reach Emotionally Challenged Kids in the Classroom Through Interactive Music, Percussion, and Story-telling,” and “Teach Core Content by Integrating Music and Folklore to in Social Studies, Language Arts, Humanities, and the Music Education.”
Jim has conducted artist residencies in the Public Schools of KY, WV and NC and has performed at Kentucky Crafted the Market, Homefront, Kentucky Music Weekend, the Heartland Dulcimer Festival, the Hindman Settlement School, Bernheim ColorFest, Mountain Stage (Public Radio,) West Virginia Public television, and UNC-TV.
Potential Residency Project
This is an outline of a five-day project in a juvenile correction facility or an alternative education class with 10 students and teacher assistance to maintain order in the class. This project could also work with a regular public school music class of 25 to 30 students.
1. Goal: Present the blues as a catharsis of emotion, a lament, and a therapeutic way of expressing emotion.
Education: Show slides of Blues players Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters and discuss the hard life of share cropping in the south and migration to the cities of the North. Blues grew out of this history.
Performance: Blues of Robert Johnson, Son House, Skip James, Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters that tell about hard times.
Application: Ask students to write down a story of hard times and what allowed them to survive. This story is their blues.
2. Goal: Help students to find helpful ways to express their emotions and experience through rhythm.
Education: Make comparisons and contrasts between blues and African rhythm; with blues and rap.
Performance: Give students instruments to play with the blues. Djimbe drum, talking drum and other various drums from Africa. Play some drum music with guitar by Ali Farke Toure.
Application: Help participants to identify their feelings with an emotions chart. Ask them to drum these feelings.
3. Goal: Help students to deal with their feelings and experience by writing several verses of a blues song that tells their story. Students may talk the words or sing them.
Education: Help students to understand the connection between blues and rock and roll and blues and rap music. People are writing new blues songs and evolving the genre. Show excerpts from the series, “The Blues” about the relationship between the blues and rock and roll and rap. I relate the blues to hip-hop songs with a positive message such as raps by Flame, Trip Lee, Sean McGee “My Story,” and Kirk Franklin.
Performance: Artist performs a blues songs he has written. Performance of a talking blues-rap.
Application: Groups of students work together to write a blues or a rap and put a tune to it. Those who are not able or willing to write can rehearse a song with drums and rhythm instruments to be recorded the next day.
4. Goal: Students practice their song or poem, which they can read or sing to prepare for recording session.
Education: Artist coaches participants on ways to perform their song or lyric.
Artist talks about the technical aspect of recording.
Performance: Students practice their songs on their own.
Application: Students who are ready begin to record their song. The artist takes a shots of the group and the recording session with a digital camera to use for the CD cover of a recording.
5. Goal: Students record their song or rhythm performance for the production of a CD.
Education: Students learn the technical process of recording. The last day is a recording and post-production session.
Performance: Students perform their songs and record them. The rhythm ensemble performs and records.
Application: Students choose the order of songs for the CD. Artwork and picture for CD Label and cover. Some students with good attention span participate in mixing their songs. Students help in the post-production, editing, and mixing of a music CD for the class to keep. The class listens to the final product of the CD and reflects on the music they made, and the experience of recording and hearing themselves.