Elementary students get schooled in rock playing air guitars

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A local elementary school believes music makes a difference — that’s why it’s teaching students to play the  air guitar. Believe it or not — it’s a lesson that parents support.

“Say it after me, ‘I can be safe.  I can be awesome.  It’s cool to be a dork,’” media specialist Joseph Longbottom prodded.

At Delaware Ridge Elementary School, his class is ready to rock and Jaden Robinson leads the pack. The fifth-grader admitted at first he gets nervous playing his air guitar in front of people.

“But when I start, I feel like I’m the only person around,” Jaden said.

That’s exactly why Longbottom decided to incorporate the instrument into his lessons. Longbottom says it teaches students about taking risks, perseverance and creativity.

“The students that are most outgoing, you’d be surprised when you ask them to put on an air guitar and play it in front of their classmates, it’s pretty terrifying,” Longbottom said.

Students learn the history of the air guitar — it started in Finland — and choreograph routines. They’re judged on three key criteria: Technical merit, stage presence and “airness.” It’s the same criteria used at the U.S. Air Guitar Championships.

“Some of my best lessons come after air guitar because they’re thrilled and rocking and ready to take on whatever challenge I give them,” Longbottom said.

Longbottom knows there are skeptics, but says the lesson teaches students to overcome fear. If you don’t believe him, just ask Jaden.

“If you’re scared to do something or if something is eating you inside that you really want to do but you don’t know if it’s the right thing, just take a risk and go for it,” Jaden said.

This is the second year students at Delaware Ridge Elementary School have learned about the air guitar. Next year, Longbottom hopes to expand the program and also hopes to use the air guitar to teach students about character development.

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1 Comment

  • Carolyn Magnuson

    Congratulations to Mr. Longbottom for using his talent to help youngsters release theirs! I urge him to develop this lesson into a full-blown curriculum…it has the potential to engage students who may be discouraged learners in academic disciplines! Go for it!