Saturday, May 29, 2010

Full Circle: Sending the Music Forward

I remember the Batiste's from school. When Mr. Alvin started working at Southern University his son, also named Alvin, became a part of our fifth grade class at the Lab School. We used to give the younger Alvin a ribbing about some of his New Orleans pronouniciations like using "ER" in "OI" words--for instance saying "erl" instead of "oil."Younger brother Maynard was in my sister Carol's class and a year ahead of us was Marcia, whom I thought was one of the most talented young ladies I'd ever met. I truly enjoyed talking with her and appreciated the time she would take to talk with me. At that time, we saw more of Mrs. Batiste because she stayed involved in school activities, accompanying us as a chaperon on our junior high trip to the World's Fair.

Fast forward. After moving back to Louisiana from Florida I had a class of children--preemie-borns between three and six years old. All visually impaired with multiple disabilities due to premature birth. Music was very important and therapeutic for my babies. Some of them were nonverbal and music turned on many lights--no pun intended. We did music and movement for circle time because it made more sense for my kids. Nap time meant all types of music. Once I even had Japanese kabuki and Irish folk songs when songs during a unit on world peoples!

One little boy who came to me with the ability to say only two syllables was particularly affected by music. He went from asking "Booshic?" to request music to saying, "I want bukee (kabuki) music" to "Miss Kaffy may you please can play my jazz music?"

Fast forward some more. I call to check on one of my kids who is now about ten. His mother gets him on the phone so he can give me his Sunday WBRH program line up. It ends up with "And then at four-o'clock it smooooth jazz in the city with MISTER Alvin Batiste! I LOVE MISTER, Alvin Batiste!" Then he starts to rattle off the titles of some music by Alvin Batiste and some music by other artists MISTER Batiste played on his radio show.

Fast forward again. I'm at a program at the sorority house for showing off and encouraging young talent and Mr. and Mrs. Batiste are there. He's walking slowly on a stick because he'd been ill. She's staying close by his side. Students stop by to speak as they walk around the room to view the exhibits. I go over to speak and I ask how Alvin, Marcia and Maynard are doing. I have to tell them of the story of one of my babies and how he loves MISTER Alvin Batiste.

"Edith, don't we have some CDs in the trunk of the car?" Mr. Batiste said. "Get one for the little boy an get one for Kathy, too."

There were copies of two different CD's in the car that day.

The following school day, I made a special trip during my lunch break to hand deliver those CD's to the school for the visually impaired for young Mr. D who just loved MISTER Alvin Batiste. A few day later I received a call, thanking me for bringing the CD's and asking me to thank MISTER Alvin Batiste...and if he ever gets any more CDs...

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