What Arne Duncan can Learn from Idol: 25/31

Okay, yes, I admit it, I watch American Idol and I have been watching since Season 4, when my niece, studying voice at a music school in Princeton, had a good friend who made it into the top 10. I had a reason to tune in.

By the next season, I had my favorites and yes, I patiently waited through many busy signals to make my vote count.  The judges: Randy, Paula and of course Simon, the most entertaining, sadly, I confess, because he was unpredictable and often nasty (truth hurts) in his comments and I wondered if the show could continue without him.

I gave the new team a chance: Randy was the only one back for season 10 and the new team included Jennifer Lopez and rocker, Steven Tyler.  And surprise, surprise, it has never been better.

So here’s why I think Arne might take a page from the AI book.

Jay Lo, Steven Tyler and Randy, to a lesser degree, are all performers.  Jay Lo and Steven are musical superstars.  At this moment, Jaylo’s new album is #1 at I Tunes and Steven Tyler of Arrowsmith is treated with hero worship by contestants and audience members alike.  So, this team come to the table with experience and expertise and instead of using the group of young potential stars that they have selected from thousands of hopefuls as a butt of their humor, they mentor their charges.  They want them all to succeed and the tone of the show has changed.  When Simon was in charge, we waited to hear Simon’s final comments for each contestant.  Would another hopeful be ripped to shreds?

This new team takes their roles as mentors seriously.  For years we heard from judges, especially Randy, that many of the young singers had pitch problems.  Last week Randy continued to raise this issue.  Jaylo heard it too but instead of just identifying the problem she softly remarked that she would solve the problem and making good on her promise she had her husband, Marc Anthony, a superstar in his own right, show up during rehearsals to teach the kids how to use the mic equipment and surprise, surprise, NO PITCH PROBLEMS THIS WEEK!

Tuesday night the best night of music I’ve ever heard on AI. Everyone was great!  A night of Motown, near and dear to my heart.  And many of the Motown greats joined in playing along with the Idols, in fact Stevie Wonder showed up last night to sing along and celebrate Steven Tyler’s birthday.

Along with the judge mentors, the show has moved to support the group behind the scenes.  Instead of guest superstars supporting the new comers, the show has hired a production team who work one-on-one with the Idols, helping them select and shape their performance songs.  In other words: Teachers!

So how is this season different Arne?  It’s all about teaching… The new team has a great group of kids with great musical potential but they need support to move from their small stages back home, to the professional stage of Hollywood and a show with 25+ million viewers each week.

Mentors to the rescue!  AND a respect for the learning process!

And yes, this is still an entertainment show and wow last night what excitement right down the last mintues.  On the second night of AI the voting from the night before is announced…slowly…to build suspence.  First the slick mc Ryan Seacrest builds the bottom three and takes the rest out of their misery. There’s musical entertainment periods but we just want to know who is going home. Last night, a nail bitter!  A surprise! Casey, my favorite, was at the bottom, #11.

The judges had one save and as Casey sang for his AI life, Randy stopped him in the middle of his song.  “Dog, stop! We love you!”  We think you’re amazing and can’t believe the voting, so you have to change it up next week.

The team rescued someone they are committed to. Casey was beside himself, the group was thrilled and the audience was out of their seats. And next week the pressure is greater.  Two will be eliminated and it will get harder and harder each week to watch the group thin to just two and then one…but stars will be born.

Is it Tuesday yet?

Categories: a photo a day 2011, American Idol 10, post a day 2011, Slice of Life Challenge 2011 | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “What Arne Duncan can Learn from Idol: 25/31

  1. Oh I love this…what a great post to read as I open my room and begin my teaching day! Thanks, Bonnie!!!!

  2. That’s fantastic Tara…I just added a bit more to the post. It was so much fun to write.

  3. I absolutely agree with you on the tone of this year! Thanks for sharing the news, shocking as it was. I have not heard any Idol news. Your title made me read and the internet is working at this moment.

  4. Lynn Jacobs

    Nice comparison Bonnie. You are spot on!

  5. LOVE your post! I love to watch wonderful voice and dance teachers work with and mentor your performers. This is great. I’m sharing this with my colleagues!

  6. MaryHelen

    I’m not much of a fan of AI, but my kids are. Last night, I was reading through SOL posts and I heard the music, Stevie, and the comments. It was awesome. I was amazed. Knowing the judges are mentoring appeals to me. Your post is a reminder to me that kind words and specific teaching go a long way in boosting a child’s learning. Thanks for brightening my Friday.

  7. I am a huge Idol fan–been watching since season 3. I agree with you on the judging this year and the mentoring that has been going on. The more positive feedback that is going on makes this much more enjoyable to watch!

  8. I was pleasantly surprised as well last night. It was so nice to see the singers being mentored by Marc Anthony. You are right, it was a teaching moment at it’s best. I also loved how he was able to disagree with his wife. 🙂 The only other time I have seen this happen on AI is when Harry Connick Jr. is on the show. I love to see children (at any age) supported and mentored. Here’s to an amazing and emotional season.

  9. jee young

    Woah…what a great analogy you made with AI and teachers! This makes me want to watch AI again. I’m glad to hear that JLo & Steven Tyler are judges this season!

  10. Lisa

    Excellent. I have not been watching this year, but it looks like I might want to.

  11. missmoyer

    This was just great! Love the show, and I was trying to put my finger on the differences in the judges, but you nailed it.

  12. I didn’t get to watch last night-too much basketball, but I loved this post & agree with your analogy. Isn’t it wonderful how teachers do mentor & make a difference? I guess I knew it all along. The oddest thing is that while I didn’t connect with Arne Duncan, I wrote in a similar way about Dancing With The Stars. If you have time, read my post. And, Paula Abdul’s show, Love to Dance did do mentoring & it seemed so helpful, as you are describing. Thanks!

  13. Bonnie,

    I totally agree with you about AI this year. I’ve been watching since Season 2, and this is by far the best–even though I’d already decided it was going to stink. However, the show really is more about the participants getting better, not how the judges can tear them down or say indecipherable phrases that don’t teach (true teachers vs. administrators?). I appreciate your thread connecting this amazing AI season with how incredible real teaching can be.


  14. Christy

    Brilliant. Simply a brilliant slice. Enough said.

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