Sporting a tie-dyed t-shirt, Fran Gough is not your typical high school teacher, and as he and a former student help a local singer set up his guitar for an acoustic performance in the front of the classroom, it‚??s clear that this won‚??t be a typical lesson.
This has been part of Gough‚??s curriculum in his physical science class at Crestwood High School in Mountain Top for six years now, a live demonstration on amplitude, frequency, and wavelength that began when Weekender correspondent Matt Morgis was still a student there. Hooking his guitar up to an oscilloscope, Morgis played a few chords while the class observed the resulting wavy lines projected behind him.
The next year, and every year since, they have asked Rick Gillette, lead vocalist and guitarist for Scranton‚??s Nowhere Slow, to play this same demonstration and then perform a small set for the students while Morgis, now a sophomore at Temple University majoring in computer science, returns to handle the technical end of things.
‚??You usually hear sound, but you can actually see waves and see sound with an oscilloscope, which is kind of cool. So Matt and I decided we were going to put together this little demo,‚?Ě Gough told the excited ninth grade students on Friday, Jan. 11.
Introduced as ‚??the house band at Crestwood,‚?Ě Gillette played some original songs and then took requests, covering popular tunes by Train, John Mayer, and Neon Trees as a sea of green waves danced behind him. While the songs were well received, he admitted that even after five years, this is still his most challenging performance.
‚??I‚??m not going to lie ‚?? it‚??s a little awkward. We‚??re used to playing in front of 21-year-olds that are at a bar, so it‚??s a little different. You don‚??t know what these kids listen to these days. I have no idea,‚?Ě Gillette said afterward.
‚??I think I‚??m more scared to play in front of a classroom than I am in front of 300 people at a club.‚?Ě
It‚??s getting a little easier each time, however, and the unconventional lesson also helps spread awareness of the local music scene.
‚??It‚??s fun. It‚??s good to start kids early. We can promote our original music to kids that are in high school now that might be fans later on if we‚??re still doing it five years down the road,‚?Ě he noted.
‚??I think it‚??s interesting. It‚??s cool that they can bring me in and still make it something they can learn from and also hear music.‚?Ě
Gough has been teaching science at Crestwood for 25 years and is currently teaching physical and environmental science. The physical science course is half chemistry and half physics, the latter focusing on energy, heat, sound, light, and electrical energy.
‚??I love teaching this chapter because I know this is going to be a part of it‚?Ľ This has just been a great experience all the way around,‚?Ě Gough said, pointing out that students from previous years always pop back in to observe the music again.
‚??When you tell (students) that Rick‚??s in the house, they‚??re like, ‚??Oh, can we come down and see him?‚?? It‚??s a lesson everybody wants to be a part of. It‚??s a great, great thing. I feel fortunate that my administration backs me up and lets me do this, and at the same time that these guys are willing to come in and do it because I have no musical abilities whatsoever. It‚??s neat.‚?Ě
Upcoming Nowhere Slow shows:
Baxter‚??s, Dunmore: Jan. 18
Breakers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs: Jan. 24
Camelback Ski Resort: Jan. 26
V-Spot, Scranton: Feb. 2