SOE News

Seventh annual “Let’s Talk R.A.C.E. Conference” features hip hop musician

Chapel Hill Herald (NC)

Conference focuses on ‘hip hop benefit’

Author: Beth Velliquette;; 732-6397

CHAPEL HILL--If a student carried around a notebook full of poetry and worked on it until each word was perfect, it might be expected that the student was the star of his or her Language Arts class. It doesn't always work that way, according to Nick Jaffe. Sometimes that student is failing Language Arts and the poetry is lyrics for hip-hop music. And because of that, no one at the school recognizes that the student has a creative talent that could be nurtured.

Jaffe, a musician, audio engineer and K-8 teacher in Chicago, spoke at an all-day conference Saturday for the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program during its seventh annual "Let's Talk R.A.C.E. Conference."

This year the conference focused on examining music education in schools and was held at East Chapel Hill High School. It began in the auditorium and later the teaching fellows, along with teachers and administrators, broke into smaller workshops. It specifically focused on the use of hip-hop music.

Why hip-hop? First, it's popular with children of all races. But it's also a genre of music in which kids don't have to be trained musicians to participate. "It's highly, highly skilled, but you can approach it without being highly trained," Jaffe said.

A student can participate by writing lyrics, by learning sound engineering, by singing, by rapping and by dancing. "For people who aren't actually musically inclined -- they can't play an instrument or don't know how to read music -- they can write and still be involved in the process," said Stesha Little, program manager for the Teaching Fellows at UNC.