Sunday, February 1, 2015

That's Why I'm Here

Silent e is a ninja...

I first saw the amazing musical brilliance of Lin Manuel Miranda in this short piece for the PBS children's series The Electric Company. As I watched the show along with my young daughter, I was fascinated by the use of music in the show, and especially by his work. So, as we do these days, I Googled him.

Wow. At the time he was doing The Electric Company, he had already written and starred in the Broadway musical In the Heights. The more I read about him, the more fascinated I became. Miranda was taking musical styles that I was generally unfamiliar with and presenting them in a way that made me want to engage, learn more.

So I've been following him on Twitter as he's been putting the finishing touches on Hamilton, his newest show. It began performances on January 20th, and its run has already been extended twice since it opened. Miranda again both wrote and stars in this production. The show is about the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, as unexpected as this might seem from the composer of In the Heights.

This isn't 1776, folks. If you want a taste of Miranda's vision for the work I suggest you take a look at this performance from The White House Poetry Jam, where he performs the opening song from Hamilton. It truly turns standard musical comedy treatment of historical events on its head. And yet again, it made me want to learn more.

Last night was a big night for Miranda. He reports that a variety of important people came--Andrew Lloyd Weber, for one, fellow actors from the NBC drama Do No Harm, as well. And then he tops it off with the pièce de résistance:

@Lin_Manuel: 3) My elementary school music teacher MS AMES was here. In fact, she's the reason I'M HERE.

I talk a lot on this blog about the importance of music as a part of our children's education. I am happy to give space to Lin Manuel Miranda to do the same. How many lives will he touch through his performances and compositions? How many young people will he inspire to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams? How many people are employed in New York right now because of his creations? How many people will see his shows and connect with new musical ideas?

And it all began in childhood. With Ms. Ames. You know, when they say, "Teachers touch lives forever," it's not just some mushy sentiment. Ask Lin Manuel Miranda.

Oh, and for me? Susan Broker, Vocal-General Elementary Music teacher, Coventry School, Cleveland Heights-University Heights School System. She is why I'm here.






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