IAS Class of 2016 Presents: How To Make A Music Video

Back in 2011, as my time in Guatemala was wrapping up, as well as the school year, I wanted to create a special memory with one of my favorite classes (Truthfully, all of my classes were my favorite). But the class of 2016 was special, which is why I asked them if they wanted to do a special project.  I wanted my students to do something fun and challenging, I wanted them to make a music video.

I was born in 1984, right in time for MTV to take over my life.  Thankfully, I guess this depends on your own opinion, back then MTV still aired music videos, and not the trashy reality television it shows today.  I mean I know we all care about what snooky does, but man, I miss the music.  I miss the videos.

Ok, to be honest, my family never had cable so I didn’t watch MTV all that often, but whenever I was over at my Grandpa’s house (he had cable), I would sneak in a little VH1 or MTV.  My favorite videos were always, and I guess they still are, the ones that tell a story. Ok, there are still a few good music videos out there.  You can check out Coldplay’s Paradise video if you want an example.

Sadly, it seems like the art of a good music video has been lost.  Now, it’s all about the money and sex.  To quote the Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the love?”

And so, I set out, with my class, to make a good meaningful music video.  One that was clean with a message.

Like all good teachers, I let my students think they had come up with the idea for a music video, participation is much easier when the participants believe it’s their idea.  They ate up my challenge to think up something fun.  Really, it wasn’t hard to convince a class full of girls that dancing is the coolest thing ever, plus almost anyone would rather dance than sit in a classroom and read (not that reading is boring, but we are talking about middle schoolers here).

The hard part was coming up with the right song.  I had to insert a couple of ground rules for the song, it had to be clean and share a message, which nullified many of my student’s favorite songs.

It’s amazing how dirty most pop songs are, when you actually listen to the lyrics.  I’m still not sure what Fergie meant in her song “London Bridge.” (And no, I’m not going to give you a link for her video, it’s disgusting.)

After a couple of days of heated discussion, we finally landed on a Jessie J song.  Price Tag!

Like all great teachers, I had to compromise with my students.  All they wanted to do was dance and me, I wanted to tell a story.  As a class we’d come up costume and prop ideas, but as they choreographed the dance and I picked out our filming locations, the props and costumes just didn’t get made.

If you want props and costumes, make sure you enlist someone who doesn’t have tons of homework, either to grade or to complete.  And so it proved to be too difficult to do props and costumes, which also forced us to drop the story.  Making a complex music video wasn’t anything we had in us.

What we did have, were some crazy laughs, lots more takes than any director would care to film, a couple of tense moments (like when I sent one of the kids in to the library to grab some batteries for my camera and he came out with my external hard drive for my computer), and a blast of a time.

And for the next 6 months the semi-unedited footage above, sat on my computer compiling data dust.  I didn’t know what to do.  I knew my iMovie skills wouldn’t be good enough to edit the footage together and add music on over top.  So when my students asked, “Have you started,” or “is it finished yet?” I avoided their questions.

I really didn’t want to complete it and make it look lame.  I love those kids too much to make them look bad, but I also didn’t want them to think I was putting them off.  And so a couple of weeks ago I finally asked my friend Drew to help me finish off the music video.  Two hours later it was done!  It sure helps to have final cut pro.

Now, I am pleased to present the IAS class of 2016 hit video of the year:

How Running and Living Spiritually Go Hand in Hand: 3 Practical Ways to Live Spiritually

Back in 2003 I decided to become a runner.  Running, for me, has always been a problem.  I’ve suffered from Abdominal Migraines most of my life, which are, as I described them in my blog Dancing Con Aguafiestas, set off by running.  So, why did I take up this difficult task, one most people who don’t suffer from migraines avoid?  Simple, I wanted to lose weight and I wanted to challenge myself.  I knew if I kept sitting around I might avoid the migraines, but I’d never live the life I wanted to live.

Learning to be a runner was a challenge, it took me a little more than three years to lose any weight, but I did it.  Leaning to be a runner taught me how to set my mind on a goal.  Training for a half-marathon taught me how to achieve my goals.

Running and losing weight take perseverance and eating healthy.   At this point you might be wondering when I am going to get spiritual on you guys.  Well, follow me on this one.  Living Spiritually is just like running.  When I started running seriously, I took all of the advice I ran across.  So, here are three practical ways to help us all live spiritually.

1. Be Attentive:  Being attentive as a runner means paying attention to your body, which is important when trying to stay healthy.  Likewise, spiritual health requires attentiveness.  We can’t see God at work if we aren’t taking care of ourselves.  Being physically healthy means paying attention to what you consume.

Being spiritually healthy is exactly the same.  So, take care of yourself by reading your Bible and spending time in prayer.  I spend at least twenty minutes every night reading my Bible and praying.  Another thing I try to do so I can see God at work in my life during the day is get a good night sleep.  We must treat every day like a big race day, which means getting a good night’s sleep.  It is impossible to stay attentive to God’s doings, let alone run, if you can’t even keep your eyes open.  So go to bed early.

2. Be in Position: During a race I try to find my mental sweet spot, which always seems to be Coldplay’s album Viva La Vida.  I pace myself to its tracks as I run, but if I were to stop running for two months before the race and then position myself at the starting line on race day, I can’t expect myself to succeed.  Therefore, I position myself for success by going to the gym at least six times a week.

Positioning is important with spiritual success too.  I find my spiritual sweet spot when I am hiking with a friend.  Hiking in the mountains with a friend gets me going, but if I position myself inside of the wrong group of people, negative people, I tend to lose focus on God.  Likewise, if I seclude myself, not go on any hikes, I typically feel like God isn’t with me.  And so I know I must go out and engage with people, ones who support me, to be able to see God work.  I do know that there are people who feel God’s presence when they are alone, for those people I encourage them to turn off their tv, or whatever is distracting them, and spend some quiet time with God.  Find your sweet spot and position yourself in a place where you are most likely to see God.

3. Be Submissive: When I train for a half-marathon, I know if I want to run the race to the best of my abilities, I must train and training means giving up certain desires, like sleeping in on the weekends.  I must submit myself to a training schedule, which typically requires long hours and lots of sweat.  But I know if I place that schedule above me, as my master, I will have a great opportunity to succeed during my race.

Again, and you’ve probably already got my point, heck you’ve probably already become Jedi’s at all of this, but I’ll say it anyway, Living Spiritually is the same.  We must live with our palms up, submitted to God.  As said in Proverbs, “In all of your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Turn your hands up to God in an act of submission.  He may ask you to do something out of the ordinary, but He will not lead you astray.

For we are submitting to one who has run this race before us.  We are letting Jesus be our master.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says and Tim Tebow tweeted before his first playoff game, “Therefore, as we are  surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.  Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, and all its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”