Each autumn I spend time a fair bit of time in local high schools, meeting with prospective higher education students as they make plans for college or university. Over and above the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from meeting and helping talented young people, these visits often present interesting and entertaining insights into everyday school life. These glimpses go beyond (or contradict) the sometimes constructed picture of school that we see in drama, documentary and news features. I don’t think that the unrehearsed humour and imagination of school-life is always told in the more considered representations of what goes on inside and outside class.
To make the point, I’m going to share an audio clip I captured earlier this year whilst meeting students in school. The allocated interview room on the day in question was located within the music department which inevitably meant that my occasionally wise words of guidance were continually accompanied and disrupted by what I presumed were rehearsals for a forthcoming school show. Which isn’t to say that every interruption was unwelcome: on the contrary, I couldn't resist using my iPhone to record the following track which seemed somehow out of place within the day's wider soundtrack:
Dick Dale’s 1962 surf classic Misirlou, played out-of-key and on-the-xylophone: as I said, the unrehearsed humour and imagination of school-life. I would be thrilled to find that the choice of material was less to do with the use of Misirlou as the title track for Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, than Surf Rock featuring as a part of the Higher Music curriculum: “OK class, today we’ll be studying wet string reverb so I hope nobody has forgotten to bring their Fender Stratocaster?”
The audio clip captures my journey around the music department as I attempted to track down the source of this inventive mallet-rock. I stopped short however of intruding upon the practice space, which unfortunately means I can’t give credit to the musicians responsible. Nevertheless, I’m sure the audience at the school show would, like me, have been stoked.
Here's an interesting Wikipedia history of Misirlou as well as the 1962 version recorded by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, below.
I am an ESRC-funded Doctoral student in the Centre for Research in Digital Education at The University of Edinburgh.