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Pic of the Week: Urban Fieldwork Edition!

A man stands and adjusts the dials on an audio recorder, wearing headphones. Two young girls, seated, sing into microphones.

AFC audio engineer Jonathan Gold records two young singers performing “Ring Around the Rosie” in the playground of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in Congress Heights, Washington, D.C. Tuesday, May 21, 2018. Photo by Stephen Winick

This week, AFC staff conducted a brief fieldwork session for our podcast, also called Folklife Today. Although the episode we’re working on in this photo won’t be ready for a while, you can listen to previous episodes at this link!

On the podcast, we often create audio versions of our most popular blog posts, and one of our most popular over the years has been “Ring Around the Rosie: Metafolklore, Rhyme and Reason.” In adapting it to a podcast, we quickly realized the audio version would be enhanced by an introduction to children’s singing games and by some new recordings of the song itself. So we decided to interview the 2018-2019 Library of Congress Teacher in Residence, Carolyn Bennett. She teaches music for grades 6-12, but has experience with younger kids too, and she’s thought a lot about children’s songs of all kinds. Her interview was wonderfully informative, and we look forward to featuring it in the podcast.

Carolyn’s help didn’t stop with the interview. She had already planned to attend a literacy event at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Washington’s Congress Heights neighborhood this past Tuesday, so AFC audio engineer Jon Gold and I tagged along to do some urban fieldwork. Under the supervision of teachers and parents, Carolyn and I asked several kids to sing us their versions of “Ring Around the Rosie,” and also to talk about the song a little bit. Jon captured digital audio of the sessions.

I snapped this impromptu photo of Jon recording some great young singers with my phone. The sessions took place in the playground, next to the parking lot, and the sun was quite direct, leading to some intense shadows and highlights–it’s not my greatest photo ever from that standpoint.  But it captures the story of the day, and shows some of the work that goes into creating the blog and podcast Folklife Today. For that reason, I thought it would make a nice Pic of the Week.  We’ll keep you updated on the podcast!

2 Comments

  1. Reita Anderson
    May 23, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    This program and these folks are just exceptional.

  2. Stephanie
    June 4, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    That is a beautiful picture.

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