Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Spotlight on CHICK WEBB

Before last month, I had never covered Chick Webb in my class. I had heard of him but

I really didn't know who he was or his contribution to the world of jazz. I was searching for a read aloud and found "Stompin' at the Savoy" by Moira Rose Donohue read by Literally Cultured. It is a great story about Chick with eye-catching illustrations. It talks about Chick's childhood, how he got his nickname and his disability. Then the book goes into
band battles which were very popular at the time.

As I was searching for more background info, I stumbled upon a brief documentary about the band battle featured in the book. (I didn't share this video with my elementary students but it gave me more history so I could accurately explain the details to my students.) Band battles were common in jazz clubs and people loved them. 

This event occurred at the Savoy Ballroom in 
Harlem - a battle between Benny Goodman's band and Chick Webb's band. Webb was used to winning these battles and this competition came about because Duke Ellington's band had recently won a battle against Chick's band. Chick's ego was bruised so he set up a battle with Benny Goodman's band which featured drummer Gene Krupa. Ok... enough name dropping.

So I taught the lesson like this:

*we listened to the book "Stompin' at the Savoy"

 *we measured 4'1" (Chick's height) on the wall and got a sense of his size

* I presented the slides on Chick Webb and talked about what we had learned in the book.

This is a FREE resource found here.

*we listened to Chick's band playing the title song, Stompin' at the Savoy. (approximately 1 - 2 minutes worth)

*we made connections between Chick and Ella Fitzgerald (a  Musician in the Spotlight from earlier in the year). When Chick died, Ella took over the band.

 *then we explored the drum set as the Instrument of the Week and watched Michael Jackson's drummer play a minute or two of Beat It. Kids love hearing familiar pop songs.

*we finished up with a clip of the last competition in the movie Drumline. Although there is inappropriate language in the actual film, this clip is totally school cool.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. Hang in there! We're all in this together!



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