Last night my 16-year-old daughter and I went to GrapeFest in Grapevine, Texas, so that we could attend a concert by The Killdares. (You can hear the music!) The easiest way to describe their music is hard-driving Celtic alternative rock. It's new and fresh, but with many traditional rock and Celtic elements thrown into the mix. They also have an incredible amount of fun when they are playing. My daughter was able to meet one of the band members after they played at her school, and he said, "Where else am I going to get to play the bagpipes in a rock-and-roll band?" As you can see in the photo, they have the usual lead guitar, drums, and bass--but also a fiddle and bagpipes. (One song last night highlighted the Irish tin whistle.) Anyway, I came home nice and sweaty from bopping around.
And during last night's concert, I saw something I'd never seen before; I don't think I'd ever even heard of it before, actually, although it makes sense. For one song the bagpiper pulled out something that looked like a giant meat thermometer.
Electronic bagpipes! When he started playing them, I couldn't discern any real difference, and I thought it was quite cool. What a great piece of innovation!
On the ride home, my daughter asked why I thought the Killdares have not become a really giant band. We concluded that their music might be just a bit too quirky for many people, even though that's what we love about them. The Killdares combine some very traditional elements from rock and Celtic music in really creative ways to provide a very unique, truly engaging sound. They very much appeal to that primal part of us that responds to wonderful music.
Naturally, I see all this as a metaphor/lesson for what I'm urging for schools. We can't ever cease to be, first and foremost--places about those things which make us human at our very essence. Learning, creating, growing, connecting--these are what keep us moving forward as individuals and as a species. Now we live in this amazing time that fosters us so many opportunities to relish in those activities in new ways. Keep those traditional elements that truly matter, but design experiences that grab kids and makes them want to dance.