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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Drummer Mitch Dorge brings positive messages to local schools

Mitch Dorge on drums
Toni Lucas

Mitch Dorge visited area schools last week to deliver a presentation called "In Your Face and Interactive", which focused on educating youth to make smart well informed choices. Dorge is the drummer for the Juno award winning Crash Test Dummies. He is also the spokesperson for Teens Against Drinking and Driving (T.A.D.D.) and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.).  He was at Canyon School talking to grade 5 and 6 students from both Canyon and St. Michael's Schools on Monday, March 2.  Later the same day visited Livingstone School in Lundbreck, and the next day he visited St. Michael's and Matthew Halton High Schools.
 

Dorge's presentation was sponsored by the Co-operators, and he was accompanied by local Co-operators agent Brenda Heisler.  He had two main messages: Enjoy what you are doing, and make smart choices in your life.  "I want these kids to think," said Dorge, who challenged a few of them about their personal limits, to consider consequences, and to examine, and continually examine, their own lives to make intelligent decisions.


Living large, embracing life
He explained that he may be the happiest and luckiest man that these kids have ever met.  "Every day, I get to play drums, and every day has been awesome."  He said he loved drumming from when he was very young and his parents cultivated his own motivation by getting him lessons starting at the age of six.  He later taught music, and then was asked to join a band to tour Europe.

Dorge 'may' have teased a band mate that watched from the plane
One incident that he spoke about was when a plane he was on that was going from England to China had to unexpectedly land in Russia.  Rather than take this as an irritant, he saw it as an opportunity to actually set foot on Russian soil.  He made a request to do that which was immediately denied but was later given permission, with strict rules to follow, and was escorted to the ground from the plane.  He said that he skipped his way back onto the plane, genuinely thrilled at the adventure.  His bandmate Ellen Reid told him that many people can play the drums, and his attitude, energy, and wonder was a large part of why the band chose him as their drummer.  He said she told him to 'Pay more attention to what goes on around you.'   Dorge saw that a lot of people, even if they were doing what they truly love to do, did not seem very happy about their day to day life.  Dorge said "Life is way too short to not be happy."

Dorge, Curtis, Abigail, and Megan
He went into the audience and ruffled hair, touched shoulders, and chose kids to join him at the front to become part of the presentation.  Within minutes he had everyone in the whole Canyon School gymnasium choreographed with a Rube Goldberg skit that had sound, movement and energy.  There was rope banging and rubber chicken thrusting.  Both are a bit skimpy on the sound effects, so the audience was to supply 'Kapow!'  and 'Braaak!'.  There was hand clapping, ninja moves, and the climax was one girl saying 'Ping'.  It was a fun, energetic, and at the end of it he stated "we created pretty awesome energy.  While we did that, everyone forgot about hate."  He said he tried to create a moment that all these kids would remember and that they were part of making it happen.


Rhett rockin' the chicken
Tackling the subject of drugs, Dorge told them to pick a drug and Google it.  Then he explained that in the Google results they would find the ways that specific drug acts on the human body, what it looks like, and more.  He said underneath the more clinical information will be links to more personal stories ranging from 'I used it once' to 'It destroyed my life'.  About one drug he got a little more specific.  He read the ingredients used from a recipe about how to make crystal meth that he found on the internet.  The list included a cornucopia of chemicals.  He asked if anyone suggested that it would be a good idea to sniff snort, ingest, or smoke any one of these ingredients, including muriatic acid, ammonia, and phosphorus.  The answer was a resounding no.  He said a lot of people that start taking that drug don't actually know what it consists of, and now these kids know.  He explained that 40% of meth labs blow up, causing burns to the face, hands and chest of those making it.  He talked about one burn ward in Wisconsin where 90% of the burn victims are there from trying to manufacture this drug.

Julian, Dorge, and Caitlin do a practice run
He spoke of Jacqueline Saburido who made all the right choices.  She chose not to drink and drive, getting a designated driver to drive her and some other people home from a party.  That vehicle was hit by an impaired driver, killing two people, wounding more, and trapping Saburido in an inferno for 45 seconds.  She will live with the results of the drunk driver's decision for the rest of her life.  She is missing extremities including fingers, ears, and an eyelid for one eye that no longer has any vision.  "I think you guys are going to do the right things, because you're smart." Dorge spoke of the heavy responsibility that the drunk driver responsible for that carnage will carry for the rest of his life.

Nichole seemed skeptical of the rope as a percussive instrument
Moving on to a lighter topic, he talked about a subject he is familiar with.  "I know something about drums."  He said one customer that hired him knew nothing about drums or music and managed to get across what he wanted for a soundtrack for a commercial. Using this story he told the kids that you don't have to be an expert at something to impart knowledge, understanding, and insight.  He did  a rocking drum solo based how he and the customer fleshed out the music.


After that, he turned his drum kit over to St. Michael's student Julian Krizan, who played a drum solo of his own.  In an interview afterward Dorge told me "I thought Julian provided an amazing snippet of his talent. The drumming was great. Could have smiled a little more but perhaps he had expectations. Always awesome to see the talent emerging."

His message of being happy, living life to you best personal capacity, and to make intelligent informed choices seemed to be appreciated by his audience.  The kids gathered around him and spoke to him afterward while he signed autographs and he got to know many of them just a little bit better.


Related links:
In Your Face and Interactive - Mitch Dorge
www.mitchdorge.com

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