Songwriter rocks KincheloePublished 10:27pm Monday, January 23, 2012
Kincheloe Elementary School students are writing like rock stars.
They penned a tune with Chicago guitarist T. Rex, who performed for 250 at Kincheloe’s parent fair Monday evening and recorded the cocoa track posted to his blog to be shared with the world.
T. stands for Thaddeus, which the 12-year songwriter said is his real first name. Rex is his made-up stage name because another program he presents references dinosaurs.
Rex rightly regards himself as a “motivational performer.” He compliments third-grader Jenna Henry on her “very nice rhyme” of cocoa with loco, which is where the coach went when it combined with his Powerade.
“I was very impressed,” he told her. “I should be taking writing lessons from you.”
He is dynamic and reminiscent of a Dogwood Fine Arts Festival storyteller with an electric guitar strapped on.
Ironically, his merger of music and children’s literature occurred to cure “severe writer’s block.”
He started writing songs inspired by books he read, from “Alice in Wonderland” to “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss, although Lewis Carroll didn’t think to incorporate a spaceship in his.
With current “Captain Underpants” and timeless fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk” also providing fodder, “Teachers started asking me to come to schools to promote reading,” Rex said during an interview between his Kincheloe assemblies.
“I was traveling around the country, touring professionally and writing kids’ and family songs and doing little shows in bookstores and libraries. I started as a musician.
“The kids wrote this song. We brainstormed ideas (using such journalism queries as how, why, when, where, what) after talking about metaphor,” which describes something with words that do not make sense until your imagination leaps to make meaning out of it.
He demonstrated metaphor so the youngsters “could understand its power. Metaphors and similes (comparing two similar things) are not abstract concepts, but tools rock stars and journalists use all the time.”
“It is pretty unique,” Rex said of “secrets of rock,” which also encompass rhyming, alliteration (repeating consonant sounds), puns and their synonym, double entendres.
Besides songs, “I’m actually working on my first book,” which he described as a self-help book.
“I had no idea what I was doing when I started out,” Rex said, “but what I stumbled on seemed to work.
“Kids started writing and they were reading more, but I had no idea why until I went and did research and picked experts’ brains. Storytelling figures heavily into what I do, but I never call myself a storyteller.”
Recently, he performed in Aberdeen, S.D., and in Miami, where his book fair audience consisted of authors — “and I’m not an author yet. They didn’t care. I’m a writer.”