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Chocolate Drops are a treat to share, savor

Sometimes, you are just in the right place at the right time.

About a week ago, I read an article in the Post-Bulletin about a group called the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which would be performing at Mayo Civic Center.

The music was described as African-American string band music. It sounded like a fun evening, but my weekend was pretty full already, and I doubted I would get to the concert.

As luck would have it, I happened to be teaching at Southgate Elementary School on Wednesday, when the group would be doing a guest appearance at the school. I was thrilled.

I knew my students were in for a real musical treat. The wooden gymnasium at Southgate was turned into a concert hall for one hour as the students listened to the music of Rhiannon Gibbons, Justin Robinson and Dom Flemons.


Before they started their performance, the group members shared a little bit of information about themselves.

Gibbons said that besides African-American string band music, she loves opera. Robinson said his favorite instrument is the viola. Flemons said the trio had been playing together since 2005.

Flemons and Gibbons proved to the students that you do not have to own an expensive instrument to enjoy playing music.

Flemons demonstrated how you can use a ceramic jug as a wind instrument and imitate the sound of a tuba or a trumpet and other instruments, just by changing the pitch of your voice. Flemons suggested that the students could try this at home by using an empty apple juice jug.

Gibbons demonstrated how you can play almost any song on a plastic kazoo just by using your voice and humming the tune.

The students also had a chance to learn a challenging song, for which they had to clap and sing at the same time. As the students became confident with the words, the musicians increased the speed of the music. The song ended with laughter, and the students gave themselves a round of applause.

Gibbons also explained why some of the music they play is specifically designed for dancing. "How do you know it is for dancing?" she asked the students. "Because when you listen to it, your foot starts tapping to the beat."

To illustrate this Robinson and Gibbons each demonstrated a couple of dances while the other band members played some music.


When it was time for questions, one audience member asked if Gibbons would demonstrate her opera singing. She agreed, and as she sang a short piece, her voice echoed off the gym walls, and for a moment it felt like we were in a real opera house.

During their final song for the morning, some of the Southgate students adapted a dance routine to perform to the music played by the musicians.

Sometimes learning is just plain fun, and the students at Southgate Elementary can attest to that.

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