Published in the Hebrew Watchman, February 14, 2019
What do you get when you combine hip hop music, the bible, 100 plus students and hundreds of parents and guests? Bornblum Music Fest 2019.
Bornblum Music Fest, which took place on January 31st, featured Matt Bar of Bible Raps from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bar brought his hip hop stylings, his love of children and his knowledge of Jewish texts to Bornblum for a two day song writing workshop. During these two days, Bar and students studied a variety of Jewish texts and wrote rap songs that explained the texts they studied. Along the way, students learned the history, structure and elements of hip hop.
Ready to rap, student groups performed at Music Fest, presenting their raps to a standing room only crowd. Eighth graders rapped about their coming graduation with, “We’d like to be remembered here. Got to do something what should it be? Guess we got to leave a legacy.” Other students wrote and performed about Passover: “Sucking my thumb I was really scared bro; Frogs were everywhere even in his hair yo;
We’re getting treated wrong but they don’t even care no; Pharaoh and his folks are being so shallow.”
Music Fest was part of a year-long study of music as a tool for mastering Bonrblum’s curriculum. At Music Fest, guest were treated not only to their children’s hip hop creations, but to a fair featuring class projects in which students presented what they learned in their study of music across a wide variety of curricular areas. For example….
The evening also featured a video retrospective of a variety of musical performers who worked with students so far this year, such as performances by the Jewish Institute of Rock, Nefesh Mountain, Rick Recht, Stax Museum, musician Andy Cohen and a middle school field trip to the Blues Hall of Fame.
Bornblum’s Head of School, Daniel R. Weiss, also appeared in costume as the philosopher Plato who shared his “deep thoughts” about the power of music in education. In a surprise to the students and guests, Mr. Weiss also wrote and “rapped” up the evening with a performance of his own original hip hop song that thanked all those who helped and invited guests to view the student projects in Scheidt Hall.
“Music Fest 2019 was an incredible evening of performance, education and fun! We are so inspired by our students engagement with music in all its forms,” says Sally Baer, Assistant Head of School.
Music Fest was sponsored by Bruce and Barbara Newman, parents of two Bornblum Alumni and long-time supporters of the school. Speaking of the Newmans, Mr. Weiss says, “We could not have done Music Fest, or the experiences leading up to it, without Bruce and Barbara.”
The Bible Raps/student performances are posted on the school’s YouTube channel for anyone to watch.