You Asked: Greg Answered
Last week could have quite possibly been the busiest week of my life. Here is how it all went down. In one week I had Greg Percy visiting both of my schools, took two field trips with both schools of my 5th grade students to the Des Moines Art Center and Sculpture Park (more on the later) and also had our huge K-12 Art Show opening reception at the local art center, as well as planned and implemented an entire full day of professional development for our K-12 Art team the following Monday. It was a fun and art filled week, but left me one tired art teacher, entrepreneur and mommy!
Enough of that- Lets talk about Greg Percy’s Visit to our school- Oh what fun we had! (and I deeply apologize in advance for the totally crappy iPhone pictures in the gym, I should have thought ahead and brought our good Panasonic GH2 camera, but remember the busy week of craziness? What I can I say- I am only human).
Greg Percy’s visit went off without a hitch! He somehow had the magic to capture the attention of 500 wild students in a gym with bad acoustics for over and hour and did it with grace, discipline and a whole lotta fun. I am not going to lie, there was a moment where I kind of got a lump in my throat, looking out at the sea of kids having so much fun rocking to Greg’s songs and getting into art. It’s a great feeling when you plan something and it goes well and is well received by both students, teachers and staff at your school. Win. Win.
Here are the students doing the “Picasso Polka” – yes they all got to get up and dance! It was very fun!
A few students were chosen to do a parody of the “American Gothic” with fun props, while real parodies of American Gothic where showing up on the screen. The kids just loved it and as an art teacher, I loved the art history and lessons they were getting throughout the program.
So, onto the interview I was able to ask Greg Percy some questions you all requested and some burning questions of my own over a nice lunch in the midst of our busy day. He was happy to answer, and for those of you who haven’t met Greg, he is super down to earth, friendly and fun- No rockstar attitude here. hehehe.
Interview with Greg Percy
How do you feel about the integration of technology in the art room? What is your favorite way to incorporate technology in addition to creating music?
Greg is very pro technology and uses it when he teaches his 6-8th grade students every single day. He uses a projector, document camera and recently got a smart board which is very fun to learn and play around with and totally enhances his lessons. He of course, uses a lot of technology to create and mix his own music. During the performance he also has interactive slideshows playing of artwork and images, and lyrics as he performs. These really added a dynamic twist to the performance.
What were you like as a child in art?
Greg was always very into art as a child but it was his High School art teacher who really influenced him to go into the profession. Music was also a large part of Greg’s child hood upbringing. He joined his first band in the 4th grade and never looked back. He is very much self taught and (in my opinion) very talented. It just comes natural to him. His speciality when it comes to art making himself would be ceramics.
What level do you teach? Do you play music for them in the classroom?
Greg teachers 6-8th grade art in Madison, Wisconsin. He says his 6th grade students still like his songs, but the older students are a little “too cool” for it. Imagine that!
What inspired and prompted your song writing, music melodies and how did you start sharing your music?
His first concert was for an assembly at his own school. The presenter for the day canceled at the last minute, so they gave Greg the floor. At that time he had already come up with some catchy tunes to use with his own students in art (He taught elementary at the time) and had a few tricks up his sleeve). the rest was history. The performance went well and he began from then on doing his music for a wider audience.
He first started making songs when he noticed a particular group of kindergarten students were having a lot of trouble learning their primary colors. So, he created the song to help them remember, and it kind of stuck. Over time more songs evolved, and 5 CD’s later, this has become a really unique venture for Greg. For his last CD, he even asked for fan input on what kind of songs he should write about.
Do your Songs get Stuck in Your head?
Greg definitely has his favorite songs in his collection. He also has changed his song over time to add more audience participation and to make them more engaging for kids.
I also wanted to share as kids were filling out their Portfolio Review Sheets, one student wrote the following:
If you are interested in having Greg Percy do a performance at your school just head on over to his website, Songs in the Key of Art, to get more information and book show. Also don’t forget to get some of his CD’s to play in your art room. I would totally do this again in a heartbeat. It was a very valuable experience for all involved. Thank you Greg!