2016 GRAMMYs recap: using the ceremony in the music education classroom


The 2016 GRAMMYs have come and gone. Here are my thoughts as the show was going on and some overall thoughts following the performance. (A nice GRAMMY primer from Vox can help you out, too.)

This is really the overarching theme for the night. While the tributes to Glenn Frey, B.B. King, David Bowie, Maurice White, Michael Jackson, Lemmy Kilmister, and the yearly “those we lost” compilation were all very good individually, as a whole there were almost as many tributes to deceased musicians (7) as actual awards given out on the telecast (8, right?).

Best Performances

My favorites were Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and the David Bowie tribute by Lady Gaga but for completely different reasons. Little Big Town’s performance incorporated some great string accompaniment that is a really easy chord analysis if you’re looking for music ed content.

Gaga’s performance was great for the ingenuity. The opening visuals evoking the different Bowie characters using projection then morphing into new roles along the way was a perfect way to remember Rock’s greatest chameleon.

Worst Performances

Through no fault of her own, Adele’s appearance was marred by technical issues including a weird string sound and her vocal being obscured then completely dropped before returning. She sent a NSFW tweet saying a microphone fell on a piano string causing the entire thing to be out of tune. Without knowing the sound mix going into her ear, it’s very possible that while we stopped hearing it after a little bit, she heard it the entire time. Woof.

So, so many performances were slow during the middle hour of the telecast. Then they got a huge, powerful performance from Kendrick Lamar only to bring it back down with Miguel singing a slow Michael Jackson tribute. Things began to pick up over the last hour of the show.

I love Hamilton. It is not meant to be shared as a single song without show notes or lyrics in front of you. I thought it was awesome that it was featured but I doubt it did anything to broaden the audience for the show.

Most Surprising Moments

The biggest surprise of the night happened in the last five minutes when Taylor Swift took home Album of the Year for 1989. Surely it produced a ton of hit singles, but as a whole I didn’t like the album very much and most expected Lamar to take the top prize.

Another moment late in the telecast, the GRAMMYs went after Spotify without mentioning the streaming service by name saying all the artists that made that song get paid less than a penny every time you stream the song they helped create. A powerful message that they chose to put after 11 p.m. on the East Coast.


facebook_logo facebook.com/MattWarrenMusic
images (1) @MattWarrenMusic


2016 GRAMMYs recap: using the ceremony in the music education classroom

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Bill Withers

As we get closer to the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, I’ll share short and sweet profiles of the inductees and some lesson ideas. Bookmark it.

Photo Source


Bill Withers’ smooth delivery made his hits so distinct but so did his life experience, which bled into his work. He was 33 when he had his first hit and spent time in the Navy prior to releasing “Ain’t No Sunshine” but that didn’t stop him from writing some of the most famous songs in popular music history.

Musically, he paired the singer-songwriter style of the 1970s with R&B and disco flavors to create a style all his own. He left show business in 1985 after the “business” side began to interfere with the “show” but his songs have lived on in cover versions and samples by countless artists.


“Lean on Me”
Inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame and one of only nine songs to top the Billboard chart with versions by two different artists, it’s an anthem from his second studio album. The familiar piano line was the first thing written as he was messing around on a new piano but it’s that simplicity coupled with the soaring vocal line that make it special.

“Just the Two of Us” with Grover Washington, Jr.
It won a GRAMMY in 1981 and is another great example of his singing style. It’s been used in a number of films and sampled or covered by many artists including Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers film series and Will Smith.

“No Diggity” by Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre
This is most definitely not a Withers song, but it speaks to his influence. The group sampled Withers’ 1971 single “Grandma’s Hands” as the background track. It went to number one in 1996, knocking “Macarena” off it’s fourteen-week perch atop the charts.

facebook_logo facebook.com/MattWarrenMusic
images (1) @MattWarrenMusic

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Bill Withers