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Envision an auditorium filled with elementary school children enraptured by the sound if music being performed by two brightly clad men who have given the kids background information, shared positive insights and demonstrated proficiency on a dozen or more instruments... Imagine high school students enthralled by a lecture on the history of the development of jazz and popular music from the musics of Africa through the slave experience up to the 1990's... Now see either of these audiences clapping along joyously to complex African polyrhythms, laughing at the humor of an improvised blues, dancing in the aisles to reggae and rap music, and coming a bit closer to understanding that music, art and culture can be a vital part of their educational experience.

Plunky and Muzi Branch are professional musicians and experienced educators who have produced these scenes and countless others over the past several years touring the state of Virginia, and places as diverse as upstate New York, Savannah, Georgia and even Ghana, West Africa. Plunky and Muzi Branch concert lecture presentations are entertaining and enlightening for students of all ages. Program topics and subject matter are adapted for respective grade levels, from kindergarten through college.

J. Plunky Branch is a versatile saxophonist, vocalist, composer, producer and lecturer who has recorded for television, including "The Cosby Show", released 11 record albums and been the opening act for some of the biggest names in popular Black music, including: Ray Charles, Patti Labelle, B.B. King, the Pointer Sisters, Frankie Beverly and Maze, and others. Plunky is a two-time recipient of Jazz Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and he has toured for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Ghana National Commission on Children. He has taught music in the Richmond Public Schools, been an instructor of commercial music and director of the jazz ensemble at Virginia Union University and he has taught Afro-American music history at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Philip Muzi Branch received his BFA and MAE from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a bassist, keyboardist, composer, vocalist and producer, in addition to being a visual artist and arts administrator. Muzi has published more than 30 original songs, written a children's book, engineered recordings in his home studio, and his paintings have been exhibited in art galleries across the state of Virginia. He is currently the Executive Director of Art On the Square, a gallery and studio complex in downtown Richmond, VA. As an individual artist, along with his brother, Plunky, and with their ensembles, Muzi has been an artist-in-residence, lecturer and entertainer in numerous schools, universities and other institutions.


1. The History of African-American Music
- A concert-lecture which traces the development of African-American music from its African roots through the music of the slave period through the development of the blues, jazz and contemporary black music, including: rhythm and blues, rock, reggae and rap.

2. An Introduction to African Music
- A lecture demonstration of the principles and characteristics of traditional African music and an examination of the various types of African instruments.

3. An Introduction to Music -
A concert presentation introducing younger audiences to professional musicians, their music and their instruments and exploring ways to listen to and appreciate music.

4. Music and Band Student Workshops
- Informal sessions in which the artists answer questions and work with music students on techniques, practice and rehearsal methods, improvisation, etc. The artists will also discuss the effects of music on audience and performer and careers in the music industry.

5. Making an African Instrument
- Students are shown how to make two types of African idiophones (shakers) from materials readily available. The students then play their own hand made instruments along with the artists.

6. An Introduction to African and African-American Art
- A slide presentation and exhibit of Black art works from Africa and America with discussions of the methods, materials, aesthetics and the artists.

7. The Harlem Renaissance -
A slide presentation with live music performance and discussion on the development of the Black Arts movement in Harlem, New York, during the 1920's.

8. Controversy in Music
- A concert lecture on the historical perspective on the controversies in music, from the earliest times through jazz and up to hard core rap music. A challenging presentation on the rights and responsibilities of artists and listeners.

9. Music as Communication - A Message in Our Music -
A concert or original music and a discussion of the lyrics and emotional intent of the songs written by Plunky and Muzi Branch. Excerpts of compositions of other jazz and popular musicians will be highlighted for comparison and discussion.

10. Electronics, Computers and Digital Technology in Today's Music
- A demonstration of the use of technology in composition and performance of popular music. Sampling, looping, sequencing, digital effects and basic recording techniques are demonstrated and discussed.

These programs are suitable for groups of various sizes, from one class to a full auditorium, and most of the programs can be adapted for elementary, middle or high school grade levels and for college students. In addition, the lecture content and format can be adjusted to directly relate to specific curriculum subjects, including: history, social studies, language arts, science and special education. The following is a partial listing off related topics:

Social Studies: Art and music in pluralistic society; the role of art and music in African societies; art, music and current events; the creative process and the musician and artist; Black art: protest and consciousness-raising aesthetics; art and music careers.

Language: Music and art as communication; lyrical art and music; Black art: how it speaks to us; music and art as idiograms.

Science: Light and sound: color and music as stimuli; healing forces: music and art therapy; light and sound waves; making instruments; music and art as tools in archaeological research.

Special Education: Improving eye/hand coordination with music and art; art and music in communication skills; art and music: sensory stimulation and motivation; using art and music as a means of self-expression; art and music techniques for the handicapped.

Gifted and Talented Programs: The creative process of the musician and artist; music and art as idiograms; composing an original composition; the ideology of 20th century African-American art and music.

Physical Education: Afro-bics: African rhythms for aerobic exercise; rhythms for exercise; jump rope songs, juba, dancing for exercise; African dance for exercise; music for distance running and stamina.