Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 3:41 am | Fair 51º


Dishwalla’s George Pendergast Joins Laguna Blanca School’s Lower School Faculty

New Laguna Blanca School Lower School music instructor George Pendergast believes it is vital to leverage a class’ individual talents and provide everyone in the room an opportunity to be musical.
New Laguna Blanca School Lower School music instructor George Pendergast believes it is vital to leverage a class’ individual talents and provide everyone in the room an opportunity to be musical. (Laguna Blanca School photo)

Laguna Blanca School is proud to welcome George Pendergast as the new Lower School music instructor, bringing more than 40 years of music experience to students in grades EK–4.

George Pendergast, star of local rock band Dishwalla, is bringing his musical talents to Laguna Blanca School’s Lower School.
George Pendergast, star of local rock band Dishwalla, is bringing his musical talents to Laguna Blanca School’s Lower School. (Laguna Blanca School photo)

As a seasoned musician, Pendergast brings a variety of percussion experience, from classical music, pop, jazz and blues to modern rock. The Santa Barbara native says  music has been his passion from an early age.

“My dad was very into listening to music; there was always music playing and we would talk about it,” he said. “And finally at age 5, they got me a drum set.”

Pendergast’s love for music also included piano lessons for five years, and clarinet when he was in junior high school.

He graduated from San Marcos High School and attended Santa Barbara City College before pursuing his dream of touring with the emerging alternative, local rock band, Dishwalla. The band eventually received its big break in the early 1990s, earning gold records and the No. 1 Billboard Rock Song of the Year in 1996.

Dishwalla continues to play live shows and later this year will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of its hit song, “Counting Blue Cars.”

For more than 15 years, Pendergast has provided private drum lessons to aspiring youth, and at the Santa Barbara Rockshop Academy that he founded in 2009. The Rockshop Academy is a year-round music and mentor program that fosters the next generation of aspiring musicians in Santa Barbara.

Excited about the opportunity to teach at Laguna Blanca’s Lower School, Pendergast says he looks forward to providing a fresh perspective with new ideas, while also collaborating with fellow instructors for the upcoming winter and spring music concerts — on Dec. 10 and on May 5, 2016.

Pendergast’s teaching methods include peer-to-peer mentoring and the Six Pillars of Character, basing his programs and materials on elements of the six ethical values of Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. He recognizes that learning music advances a student’s understanding of mathematical measures.

“Music is math,” he explained. “It’s all division of quarters and fourths. And so you’re multiplying, you’re dividing, or you’re subtracting.

“And even for people who don’t like math, it’s a way of getting math without knowing you’re doing it. Music kind of sneaks it in there!”

Pendergast currently is teaching sea shanties to Laguna Blanca’s fourth-grade students who will stay overnight on a tall ship in the Santa Barbara Harbor on Oct. 22.

For second-grade students who will be participating in an Africa Day celebration on Nov. 20, Pendergast is teaching a traditional djembe pattern on the African drums that was intended for a call and answer.

Working closely with other Laguna teachers, he is adding a new twist to Laguna’s already well-integrated performing arts curriculum.

His approach is a blend of Orff and the Kodály Method with his own variations, where rhythmic notation is taught with traditional methods and a syllable approach called “Play You Say,” that, he says, “has proven to get groups to be able to play as an ensemble with very little rehearsal.”

Pendergast’s philosophy also leverages individual talents and provides everyone in the room an opportunity to be musical, allowing all students to learn and benefit from each exercise in the class.

While teaching, Pendergast has observed that a child’s confidence, and ability to concentrate and take risks naturally increases as the student becomes more proficient with an instrument.

“I’ve also noticed that music is an organic community builder,” he said. “When you’re playing music together, you are part of a group. This part cannot exist without that part. And so everyone has to be in it together in order for it to work.”

Head of Lower School Andy Surber couldn’t be more pleased.

“George has extraordinary experience in many areas of music from instruction to performance,” he said. “The students are enjoying his lessons on voice, percussion, notation and performance.”

In addition to music, Pendergast enjoys hiking, biking and spending time outdoors at the beach with his children. He is the proud father of daughter, Lilly, 11, and son, Gavin, 9.

Laguna Blanca School is an Early K-12 co-educational, college preparatory day school. Building upon its 80-year tradition of academic excellence with new and innovative teaching methods and programs, Laguna Blanca provides students with a supportive community that promotes deeper learning, and values student balance and well-being.

With its thriving experiential learning, LEGO, STEM, and arts programs, competitive athletics, and state-of-the-art athletic facilities, the school offers a variety of ways that students can succeed.

Click here for more information about Laguna Blanca School.

— Melissa Walker is the communications coordinator of Laguna Blanca School.

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