Many Revelstokians will have memories of children’s performer Rick Scott. Maybe as a child taking in one of his dynamic, audience-participation shows. Maybe you were a parent accompanying young ones. This time, you could be reliving your childhood memories, taking your kids to see Rick Scott’s musical show at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) on April 27.
Here’s my memories of Rick Scott.
I attended Windsor House School in North Vancouver for grades 4–6. It’s an alternative education, non-violent, non-coercive, parent participation school.
At Windsor House, the weird-left teachers went by their first names and emphasized interpersonal problem-solving. They held ‘revolution day’ where students learned pros, cons and how-tos of revolutionary coups through role-play. Soup day featured homemade vegetarian soup made right in a classroom for everyone.
Students could take part in class – or not if they didn’t feel up to it. (Me, I never learned cursive – block letters will do me fine for life, I reasoned.) If we preferred, students could lounge around on the sofas in the classrooms and read books, or maybe play a record. Competitive sports were shunned – instead they played strange music while we did ‘creative movement.’ It was freeform whatever-comes-to-you dance moves that must have weirded out the neighbours.
So what happened when the school district tried to push a new ‘checklist-based’ mandatory curriculum? The students were enlisted in protest theatre.
“There was a big kerfuffle,” Scott told me. “What a cool school that was.” The students and teachers performed skits lamenting the intrusion of rote learning into the free-form environment. Each skit was ended when a giant textbook wandered onto the stage to gobble up the actors.
Rick, whose son was in my class, penned his own protest song. “It was called the article song – which is about articles – was on my first album for kids,” he told me in a telephone interview from his home near Nanaimo.
Scott sings to me over the phone: I’m a little article/ just a little particle/ of an ordinary kind of word. When I go past/ it’s so darn fast/ it’s almost like I never was heard.
For me, this unique reaction encapsulates Scott; working through challenges with humour, good-will, creativity and a strong sense of self.
The prolific, multi-award winning children’s performer, musician, author and educator has toured the world, using his loving, magnetic energy to draw children into an audience-participation sphere where taking part is what matters.
He’s at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, April 27, for a family concert starting at 11 a.m. Admission is $2. Scott marvels at all the Revelstoke organizations that made it happen (RPAC, Revelstoke Arts Council, Revelstoke Child Care Society, Early Childhood Development Committee and Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy). During the week, he’s teaching Music as a Second Language for educators and doing a reading of his musical book The Great Gazzoon at Arrow Heights Elementary.
“The first objective I have is I want them to be part of the show,” he explained. He tries to get the young audience participating within 15 seconds of taking the stage with his dulcimer.
What’s his philosophy? What guides him? “I’m kind of anti-message, if anything,” he explained. He wants to give kids, “the feeling that they can do this too.”
Scott wants to get everyone involved and let kids know that it’s about trying and having fun with it. In an aside, he talks about his dislike for reality music shows in the American Idol vein. They emphasize squeaky-clean perfection, focus on the flaws and set aside performers as someone special to be placed on a pedestal.
“I think one of the things that’s happening in our culture right now which I’m very troubled about is the idea that to be a dancer, or to be a musician or to be an artist of any kind is that you have to be famous,” Scott said. “I stutter I get so upset with that concept.”
Can’t we get back to jamming? Gathering in circles, starting and tune and away we go, he asks?
Those who lived in Revelstoke may remember Rick’s Pied Pumkin shows. The 1970s Lower Mainland-based folk trio of Joe Mock, Rick Scott and Shari Ulrich had an extremely strong following in the Kootenays, and also played many shows in Revelstoke (where they enjoyed “Freddy’s” hospitality at the Regent Inn, Scott remembers. They’re staying there again this trip.)
For those who want to learn more, visit rickscott.ca. You can buy his albums and books there, including The Great Gazzoon, Gazzoon Tunes, Pumkids, Snooze Music, The 5 Elements, Making Faces, Philharmonic Fool, Rick Around the Rock, The Electric Snowshoe, as well as albums for “big folks.”
“Eight albums later, we’re still at it,” Rick said of the years since Windsor House. “It’s a great ride. I’ve been able to raise five kids. I have been able to travel around the world doing what I do.”
Things change and things stay the same. The article song was his way of protesting, but mandatory testing continues to be an issue. “This is a huge issue to this day – the standardized testing thing – it’s the government trying to push kids through the same slot, and it’s not the way it works. That’s why you have teachers. The teacher is the person who facilitates all those different little kids and all those different personalities and all those different dreams and fears. That’s why teachers are so sacred to me,” he said.
Tickets for the April 27 show are available at the Revelstoke Community Centre or the Revelstoke Child Care Society.