Making Room for Music in the ELA Classroom (Part 3)

Posted on January 9, 2016


This is the third in a series of posts where I’ll write about the role of music in my ELA classroom–and in my life. (Part 1; Part 2)

Big Bang Theory: A Band is Born

Another tremendously talented Maple musician I’ve played music with is drummer, David Kress. David has the distinction of being the first student who became a band-mate. David was a student who loved music and brought it into the ELA classroom as often as he could, because he was inseparable from it. He lived and breathed music. He played drums; they were his passion. He  played in rock bands and competed in The Battle of the Bands. In Speech, he showed us how to tune drums, and in his Independent Study in Writing, he read and wrote about drumming.

It was 1998, and my son’s Little League coach, Jim Cottrell, told me that he was a blues guitarist who had recently returned to Adrian from San Francisco, and he was looking for musicians who would want to start a band. I said that I wasn’t a musician, but I knew a few, so I’d try to help him. I hosted a jam at my house, inviting all the musicians I knew, hoping that when they jammed, something would gel, and a band would be born. This gathering would be the beginning of a long and lovely musical journey for me.

A band didn’t come out of that jam session, but I saw that Jim had chops and deserved to find musicians for his band. At school, I asked David if he’d like to try playing some blues, and he said yes. I remember the day his Cadillac rolled into the driveway and my son, Cale, excitedly helped carry Dave’s drums into the house on Frank Street. That day, a blues band was born: Big Bang Theory, with Jim Cottrell on guitar, Joe Aranda on bass, Dave on drums, and me on vocals.

Joe joined the band after I told my colleague, high school counselor, Elsie Aranda, that my band was looking for a bassist. She said, “My son is a bassist!” She passed on the message, and soon Joe brought the funk and the fun to the group.

When David graduated from high school, he left the area, and he was replaced by AHS alumnus, Ross Strayer (Class of ’74). Later, Rico Perez would join us on harmonica, but Dave played with us in those first few months, which got Big Band Theory off the ground and put me on a path that would lead to many other musical collaborations through the years. Thanks, Dave.


Big Bang Theory at Lenawee County Fair, 2000 (Photo: Lad Strayer)