School Shouldn't Be A One Size Fits All
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by: Ioanna Aspras
This week's edition includes the four remaining teachers: Mr. Hutchins, Mr. Pannone, Mr. Sacco, and Mrs. Thaler.
In about 3rd grade, Mr. Hutchins received his first videocassette tape of the Honeydrippers from his grandmother. This was before he started developing his own opinions and tastes on music. In High School, he started to listen to rock of the 70s and 80s, such as Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Journey and Boston, and some of the grunge like Nine Inch Nails. He still listens to this era of music, saying "it's still relevant and [...] it still sounds good."
He has only been to a handful of concerts, but he "went to concerts that [he's] proud to still say [he] went to their concert." His first ever concert was the Smashing Pumpkins. He also saw Rappers Delight in a small club in Portland, Led Zeppelin when they reunited in the 90s in New York City, and Dave Matthews Band in which he called "the best concert he went to, and he almost didn't." Growing up in Maine, "going to New York CIty to see Led Zeppelin play, and not knowing that that was the last time that they have actually got together to that capacity... that was just awesome," he said about the once in a lifetime experience of seeing them live and reunited.
Dave Matthews Band is his most listened to artist today, but he didn't listen to them in high school. At the time, Mr. Hutchins' classmates and teammates would play their music, but he never got into it until later on. Dave Matthews Band is one who he will always try to get concert tickets for.
One album that he can listen to all the time is Counting Crows' August And Everything After. Pertaining to the ability to love and repeatedly listen to one album is "connecting it to what you were doing in your younger years when you first got introduced to it, and you relive those moments when you were listening to those songs."
Growing up, he never really collected his own vinyls because he was always on the move especially for sports games. His main source of listening was cassettes in junior high school and a Discman in college. Now, he listens to a lot of Spotify and enjoys the pre-made playlists given to him by his recent activity.
Mr. Hutchins reminisced about music videos he distinctly remembers. One being Walk Like an Egyptian by the Bangles, especially how catchy the song was and how they were trying to tell a story through the visuals.
There have been a few parallels he has noticed from 'older' to newer music, especially sampling of old, iconic songs. The example he thought of is Dua Lipa and Elton John's Cold Heart. He said, "people sample previous generations' music to make it popular again." And he said the same thing goes for the music they use for movies.
Growing up, a major "part of the soundtrack of [Mr. Pannone's] youth" was 60s, 70s, and 80s, what we now call, classic rock. It was always playing in the car and in the house. His father loved music and as he was traveling around Europe with the army, he was fortunate enough to see many big-name artists.
One of the first bands he recalls becoming aware of outside his classic rock genre was Metallica. He didn't love this metal variety, but "that was an entry point to more rock" for him.
He drifted away from rock in his later high school years, and he got into 90s hip-hop which also carried on throughout college.
Then, when he studied abroad in Rome, some of his classmates introduced him to smaller scale bands. Bands that Mr. Pannone had never heard of before. This became a passion of his for many years and he went to many of their concerts.
Branching off from that, he began redeveloping his own musical tastes, and it was less of taking from other people, and more seeking out new sound for himself. This is when he found Radiohead. He said, "they blew open my world for music [...] because they were so different and so complex."
For the last 15 to 20 years, Mr. Pannone has been listening to a mixture of all of the above and more. When he is at the gym, it's all electronic and hip-hop. When he is just relaxing, he enjoys listening to country--both the new pop version of country and the old-school. And he says that he will always listen to classic rock.
He truly loves finding new music, "it's a central part of [his] life." He finds it fascinating how these artists, specifically hip-hop lyricists, are able to use language and what they can do with intonation and rhyme. Mr. Pannone notices that he doesn't necessarily listen to the lyrics the first couple of times he listens to a song, but as he listens to it more, he realizes how they sometimes really resonate with him.
In relation to noticing how many things come back again, he believes artists are students of everything that came before them. The best of them are able to sample from many different genres and he says that "how they create new, is by putting all the old together." It is incredibly difficult to find that rare, truly original creation, but he is always looking for it.
There are two concerts that he really loved: Radiohead and the Moody Blues. He saw Radiohead when they were on their In Rainbows Tour, and he said they sounded really good live. He was actually introduced to Radiohead by the people who lived above him when he lived in New York. His 'upstairs neighbor' was blasting Radiohead, and Mr. Pannone actually really enjoyed the sound. For the Moody Blues concert, it was more of a sentimental concert for him because he saw them in Connecticut for one of his dad's big birthdays. His whole family went and he was pretty shocked at how good they sounded for their age. He said they were "keeping it going real good."
He would love to see Neil Young perform live. Mr. Panonne says he is one of his "top guys right now." He does admit that Young is a bit of an acquired taste for some, but he really enjoys a lot of his music.
As the mixtape and CD scene was arising, he sort of started up his own faux business of selling mixed CDs because his family would get all the latest technology due to his dad being a computer guy. As everything was becoming digital, he leaned more towards this new option because it was much more reliable and convenient.
Even though he never collected vinyl growing up, he is looking forward to the return of this handheld form of music. He remembers how cool it was "to be in a store with other people who love this thing and being in their presence and exploring tangibly as opposed to on the cell phone or online. There's something really beautiful and meaningful about that and I'm excited to see that coming back."
Mr. Pannone mentioned a game he plays with his brother and dad where they take a list of classics and they play just a couple of seconds. The aim is to guess the song the fastest. He said it was them "just loving the music and what it represents. You only need two notes and the song plays in your head."
Mr. Sacco loves music and has a family who also loves music. They installed a Bose sound system in their house and it would play: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Chicago, and more.
His late grandfather was a mentor of his and Mr. Sacco was gifted by him a cassette of the Irish Rovers that he still has and cherishes.
CDs were his method of listening to music. Going to games, he would carry CDs in his gym bag and have a CD player with him. He'd plug in his headphones and that's how everyone on the bus would be listening to their music. Some of the first CDs he got were from Barenaked Ladies and the Goo Goo Dolls. His older sister was the tech-savvy one, so she would burn CDs for them and do the downloading of songs.
Going into high school, Mr. Sacco started listening to artists like Jack Johnson, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, Buckcherry. He also started getting into the genre of indie with artists like Lily Allen, Guster, Eric Hutchinson, and the Avett Brothers.
In his senior year of high school, he got an iPod and that was quite revolutionary with its ability to hold 100 songs. A key piece from these new ways of listening was how you had your own music and playlists.
Mr. Sacco would love to have seen the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show as they came to the United States because he thought that was a "defining moment in culture and history... but also because it's the Beatles."
He remembers his sister would listen to music throughout the night, so he would wake up and hear the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, or NSYNC. He said he knows every song and lyric of those thanks to his sister.
Some of the concerts that Mr. Sacco has been to: Dave Matthews Band twice, The Tallest Man On Earth, The Head And The Heart twice, Tim McGraw with Dirks Bentley opening. He said he was scheduled to see the Lumineers sometime late May and he would love to see the Avett Brothers.
There was also a funny memory that he shared with me from grade school. They had this assignment to create their own music video and he remembers his friend was singing to 'Blue' by Eiffel 65 and he was dressed as a blue box. Mr. Sacco also reluctantly shared that he was dressed up as a cow for his music video, singing to a Barenaked Ladies song.
Music was a huge part of Mrs. Thaler's childhood. She said that music was "one way that you felt connected with people [...] because there was an outside connection that you were feeling and it gave you a connection with other people because you can talk about all the music you were listening to. [She thinks] that because [they] didn't have as many outlets and connections that there are now. There was no social media, no cellphones... [they] couldn't spend as much time connected with [their] friends."
Her family was also really into music and her parents actually introduced her to many concerts in her childhood and her early teenage years. The first concert she ever went to was the Police's Synchronicity Tour in 1981. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Madness opened for the band. She remembers it being like 102°--the hottest day of the summer--and people were being sprayed down by hoses to cool off. So, it was somewhat miserable, but it was also one of the coolest experiences that she still remembers even 40 years later.
She also saw Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. show, Michael Jackson's Victory Tour, and Genesis' Invisible Touch. She was in sixth grade at the time, and the day after the Genesis concert she had a science exam. Her parents believed it would be more memorable for her to go to the show rather than staying home studying. The biggest concert she went to was Prince's Purple Rain. She went with her cousin, her sister and her sister's friend. She says "it's so cool that I was able to go see him live because he is still so iconic."
When she went into college she stopped paying as much attention to music but it was still a huge part of her experience over those four years. So many songs remind her of college, especially Counting Crows (she's another big fan of August and Everything After), so she listens to 90's on 9 regularly. After college and as time went on, she started liking and listening to Britney Spears and all the boybands. She's seen Britney Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, NKOTB, Boyz II Men, and 98° all live. It's funny, Mrs. Thaler's husband jokes and says that "the older she got, the worse her taste in music got."
She has also seen Tom Petty and Rush live. Rush was an artist her husband really
liked at the time, and now her son really likes their music too.
Mrs. Thaler loves the connections that can be made from listening to music. She really appreciates listening to the music she would listen to as a kid and remembering those times. She also really enjoys how you can find ways to relate to all the different stories being told. She says "it's amazing how music can take you back in time."
Mrs. Thaler and I also had a long conversation about how different but also how similar times are pertaining to artists and their relationships with the fans. Back then, you wouldn't see the artist at all unless in music videos and live in concert. But now, with social media, we see everything about everyone at all times. But it is also interesting to notice that throughout time, the way we, the consumers, perceive artists can always be altered by their management or agents; whether it's controlling their social media now, or controlling what their music was about.
The way it used to be is really something that anyone can sort of yearn for because there was somewhat of an element of surprise to whenever you saw or heard from your favorite artists that we never see or have anymore.
This concludes all of my interviews, so next week I will share a conclusion and thank you to everyone!