As the keyboardist in '80s cover band Sixteen Candles, Scott Barbeau knows how to handle a Michael Jackson cover, an electrifying keyboard solo, and a crowd of screaming fans. At UpBeat Music and Arts, he shares his expertise with youngsters, emphasizing a mix of music fundamentals and fun. HIs private and group classes impart skills for piano and guitar, covering areas from musical theory and ear training to the joys of taking control of a crowd without even knowing hypnotism.
Mike Semerau and the instructors at Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons have a trick up their sleeve. In addition to in-person tutelage, they provide professional pre-recorded take-home videos of proper drumming techniques for students to refer to while practicing. This kind of constant visualization and repetitive watching is what the instructors claim makes their students so successful as they drill new techniques such as double bass, ostinatos, and stick control. During lessons, teachers also cover subjects such as soloing, learning a student?s favorite song, creating original beats and fills, and teaching yourself. Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons has a play-along machine stacked with more than 1,000 songs, all of which have no drum track so that students can provide their own percussion and experience the sensation of playing and keeping time with other instruments.
The National Museum of Mexican Art features more than 7,000 artworks that span a timeline from ancient Mexico to modern-day masterpieces. As the country’s only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums, it aims to provide a view into the richness of Mexican culture through programs and exhibitions that explore issues of social justice in local communities. Twenty of its exhibitions have toured the country, and its resumé includes The African Presence in Mexico and Frida’s Contemporaries: Women Artists of Modern Mexico. In addition to visual art, the museum’s cultural programs also display a range of other art forms including music, dance, and theater, and its annual Sor Juana Festival honors the accomplishments of Mexican women.
At Chicago Playpen, the staff seeks to educate kids through engaging activities that feel more fun than didactic. Kids can investigate city-themed installations modeled after familiar locations, including the grocery store, where kids learn counting, sorting, and social skills while shopping or restocking. Certified teachers also lead regular classes that cover subjects such as eco-crafts and creative movement.
Today, millions of people live and thrive among the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago, but at one time the bustling metropolis had only one resident—namely, the city's apocryphal, somewhat legendary founder, Jean Baptist Point DuSable. A Haitian of French and African descent, DuSable was the first of Chicago's great African Americans, a company that includes the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington. In one of the DuSable Museum's standing exhibits, the Thomas Miller mosaics, portraits of DuSable and Washington peer out along with eight of the founding members of the museum—a constellation of lodestars reminding visitors to maintain Chicago's diverse heritage.
While the mosaics incorporate the museum's own story, other exhibits examine African American achievements of all kinds. Red, White, Blue & Black, for instance, examines the contributions of black men and women in the armed forces, while voices from the past sing out in Spread the Word! The Evolution of Gospel, a survey of Chicago-based gospel greats such as Mahalia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey. In A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story, visitors explore the nuances of the momentous campaign through memorabilia and more than 150 mayoral artifacts. An animatronic likeness of Mayor Washington himself even steps in to relay stories and first-hand accounts made possible by animatronic robots' ability to travel through time. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts musical performance, film festivals, and book signings that introduce members to more aspects of African American history, including the scholars who continue to uncover it.
In the middle of a tour, a young woman began arguing with her mother, causing the guide to quietly usher the rest of the group away from the quarreling family members. Even if they had stayed, the other tour participants would have only heard half the dispute. That's because the mother was dead. At Chicago Ghost Investigations, instances like these in which guests are confronted by spirits of their past are jokingly referred to as Bring Your Own Ghost moments. Owner Brian is all too familiar with these types of encounters, experiencing one himself while serving with the US Army's 101st Airborne Division. While shivering in a foxhole, Brian suddenly found himself looking down at his body from above. Beside him stood his deceased grandfather, donning a tuxedo and red bow tie.
Brian has been fascinated with ghosts ever since, sharing his passion during each paranormal encounter at Chicago Ghost Investigations. During an introductory session, he supplies guests with a bag of ghost hunting equipment, including divination rods, thermal indicators. Along with these tools, Brian and his fellow guides teach participants methods for communicating with the dead. From there, newly christened ghost hunters seek out spirits inside a warehouse once used by Al Capone, which NBC New York now calls the "spookiest place in Chicago."