The Langley School Music Project | Teeny Manolo






The Langley School Music Project

By raincoaster

Back in the sepia-toned, bell-bottomed days of the Seventies when this documentary was shot, Langley was a lovely village surrounded by stables and farms, three-quarters of an hour’s leisurely drive outside of Vancouver. Now it is a strip-mall-encircled bedroom community an hour’s infuriatingly tense drive outside of Vancouver with, improbably, stables and farms still interspersed between SUV dealerships.

And this is the Langley School Music Project, a public school initiative by Hans Fenger, a teacher in the system. Just another public school teacher.

In the early 70s, Vancouver musician Hans Fenger decided to get a real job. His girlfriend was pregnant, and he couldn’t raise a family on earnings from club gigs and guitar lessons. He got a teaching certificate and a job in the Langley school district.

Here is some great analysis from The Delete Bin:

The recordings were literally a school project, headed up by music teacher Hans Fenger based in Langely B.C (just up the road from where I’m writing this), and incorporating 60 students who sang and played percussion instruments on songs which included David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Band on the Run”, the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”, and the Eagles’ “Desperado”. The record polarized opinion. Some said that the takes on the songs create a sort of ghostly, otherworldly effect, while others denounced it as sounding amateurish and very “school assembly” in delivery. Perhaps it’s their origin which makes these recordings so compelling. Fenger had this to say about the project and the kids who created it:

“I knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, and didn’t know how to teach singing. Above all, I knew nothing of what children’s music was supposed to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal — they had élan. This was not the way music was traditionally taught. But then I never liked conventional ‘children’s music,’ which is condescending and ignores the reality of children’s lives, which can be dark and scary. These children hated ‘cute.’ They cherished songs that evoked loneliness and sadness.”

And now, click on to see (and hear) the kids:

 Part One:

Part Two:

And Part Three:









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