ROSEVILLE, Minn. -- Soli Hughes gathers a group of students around a microphone and shows them how to present themselves in front of an audience. He should know. As an original guitarist and member of Flyte Tyme, Hughes is an elite musician.
He's also a teacher, and it's his love of music that brings him to Minnesota schools 8-10 weeks out of every year. "It's called "The History of Rock and Roll and Pop Culture," explained Hughes.
"It" is a residency where Hughes introduces youth to music that shaped their grandparents and parents and the world they lived in.
"We essentially start at the end of World War Two, in 1945," said Hughes. "A lot of things that we do have geographical, political (and) social implications. The 50's, 60's and 70's."
At St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, the residency is two weeks long.
"He brings a lot of life into the school," said 7th grader Maggie Laumakis. "We all get really excited to just even go have a session with him."
That session may include dressing up in clothing from a particular decade. Hughes brings in common household items, such as a rotary phone, that was common to the decade students are learning about.
"And then I do characteristics for each decade, for example, we have the twangy guitar, the wailing saxophone of the 50's, and then we get into the 60's." And with that Hughes is just warming up.
More adventuresome students can volunteer for a show to share with other students, staff and parents what they have learned. They can be roadies setting up the stage, or performers belting out songs.
"I'm not looking for a kind of pro-professionalism here," said Hughes, "I'm looking for kids just to try, and get a sense of what it's like to be in that era."
"Usually kind of the quieter ones aren't usually the first to jump into an activity," said social studies teacher Meghan Twohy, who says that changes during the rock and roll residency.
That ability to draw students in is why St. Rose has asked Hughes to teach the residency every other year.
"I think that adding in what kids are interested in and what families were doing on an everyday basis, and not just the big politics of the era really brings history and social studies back to real life," said Twohy.
Students who have never been in front of a microphone are belting out standards complete with choreography as Hughes cheers them on.
His credentials aren't lost on these middle schoolers who understand this is an opportunity they don't want to pass up.
"He's really nice and he's really musically talented, so it's really nice to have the opportunity to work with him," said 8th grader Collin Ethen.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved.)