Our Mission

Comprising a group of professional music teachers and performers, Porky's Groove Machine is as passionate about education as they are about syncopation. Through performance workshops that are interactive, humorous, and inclusive, Porky's helps students make connections between the fundamentals they are working on and the music they love. Having all been recipients of traditional music educations, they hope to inspire students to think outside the box about what it means to be a musician.

Our Experience

Whether conducting middle or high school band and orchestra, or running community funk jams, the members of Porky’s Groove Machine are always blurring the lines between traditional roles, boundaries, and expectations in music education. As members of Appleton, WI’s groundbreaking Mile of Music festival Music Education team, they have helped break down the boundaries between performers and audience, helping all festival attendees find their inner musician. Our members have experience teaching:

  • Middle/high school school band, orchestra, and jazz band

  • Private lessons on band, orchestral, and rock band instruments

  • Workshops for youth, adults, college students, and public school teachers on Ghanian, Afro-Cuban, didjeridu, and other world musics

  • Workshops on improvisation and composition

  • …and much more!

I loved that the students get to step out of their comfort zones. That’s the whole point, taking that whole experience and applying it to our music, whether it’s jamming as a group or being creative with improvisation.
— Becca Shuman, director of bands at Fridley High School.

Where We Have Presented

  • University School of Milwaukee - Milwaukee, WI - Workshops on improvisation, performance, and groove for drumming classes, elementary and middle school choir classes.

  • Fridley High School - Fridley, Minnesota - Workshop on improvisation, groove, and performance for high school band class. Read more about it here.

  • Lawrence University Band Camp - Appleton, WI - Educational performance for middle and high school band camp.

  • Mile of Music - Appleton, WI - The revolutionary Music Education Team blurs the lines between audience and performer during this festival.

  • 2018 Wisconsin Music Educator's Association Conference - Madison, WI - Presentation Title: "Teaching "Fun(k)-damentals" - Funk as Inclusive Pedagogy."

  • Wrightstown High School - Wrightstown, WI - Workshop on improvisation, groove, and performance for high school band and choir.

What We Do

Porky’s Groove Machine offers a variety of class to suit your classroom, teaching goals, time limit, etc. We are more than happy to tailor these more specifically depending on what you want or need from us! Click the titles below for more information.


Length: c.a. 60 minutes (can be longer or shorter by request)
Ideal for: Elementary/middle school
Bring Instruments: No

Our performance, at the outset, looks like any other concert (where the performers are in costume, of course). Delivered with our signature blend of energy and humor, the program features original compositions along with classic covers that range anywhere from Parliament-Funkadelic’s “Give Up the Funk” to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.” However, students soon realize that they are as much a part of the performance as we are. Whether trading licks as an audience with our trombone player through call and response, clapping interlocking clave rhythms with our drummer, or chanting along to lyrics, our uniquely engaging performance style encourages students to rethink the traditional roles of both performer and audience.

Sample program

  • “Show Us You Get Down” - Porky’s Groove Machine
  • “Pass the Peas” - Maceo Parker
  • “The (Not Quite a) Ballad of Hotdog Trombone” - Porky’s Groove Machine
  • “Haminacan” - Porky’s Groove Machine
  • “Blast Off/Crazy in Love” Medley - Lettuce/Beyonce Knowles
  • “Funk it Out” - Porky’s Groove Machine
  • “Do the Double Dip” - Porky’s Groove Machine
  • “Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof)” - Parliament-Funkadelic

Technical Requirements

A stage with (preferred) minimum dimensions of 20x10 ft. as clear of extraneous obstructions as possible with access to electricity. We can provide all our own instruments, and can make do with any standard PA system as long as there are 3 available vocal microphones. If a professional sound system is available (and necessary, depending on the hall), our ideal sound set up is as follows:

  • Microphones (4 vocal, others as appropriate for venue for drums, percussion, guitar amplifier, bass amplifier. Perferred microphones outlined in stage plot)
  • Microphone stands (booms preferred for vocal mics)
  • Microphone cables
  • DI boxes (3)
  • Mixing Board (able to accommodate specifications on input list)
  • Main speakers (at least two)
  • Monitor speakers (at least 4 - one for drummers, one for bass, two across front)

Open Jam

Length: 60 minutes
Ideal for: All ages
Bring Instruments: Yes!

We would facilitate an open jam in an extra room or outdoors. All vocalists and instrumentalists would be encouraged to come and participate as we build simple grooves, arranged simple parts with input from those present, and encouraged those present to improvise (either as a group or individually if they felt comfortable). For vocalists and anyone not interested in bringing their own instrument, we would have auxiliary percussion instruments and plastic wind instruments (kazoos, etc) for anyone to play along. Members of the band would be leading different sections in their parts, walking around encouraging students to participate, and providing musical help on an instrument if needed.

Technical Requirements

A large space with access to electricity (extension chords and power strips would be wonderful if available). Any extra instruments of any kind (especially auxiliary percussion like cowbells, tambourines, etc) that the hosting organization could provide would be welcome. PGM can provide our own instruments, rhythm section instruments (drums, guitar, bass, and amps), and a number of auxiliary percussion and other instruments.

Class Workshop

Length: 60 minutes (can be longer or shorter by request)
Ideal for: Elementary through high school
Bring Instruments: Yes!

Our class workshop aims to accomplish three goals:

  1. To give students an opportunity to utilize fundamental music skills to pay popular styles of music.
  2. To give students an opportunity to improvise in a creatively safe and inclusive environment.
  3. To inject humor into the daily study of music.

We begin the class by performing one of our original compositions (in costume, of course), demonstrating how we have taken our traditional music educations and channeled them into a package slightly less than traditional. After, we lead the ensemble in a tuning exercise, Porky’s style. Next, we teach the class the different parts to a classic funk song (like “Flashlight” by Parliament-Funkadelic or “Pass the Peas” by Maceo Parker) by ear. These simple pentatonic songs are perfect vehicles to help students practice ensemble playing, syncopated rhythms, and the kinds of articulations often found in funk music. We would teach the band different parts on the fly, showing how easy it can be to come up with new arrangements. Finally, we would encourage students to improvise in groups and, if they feel comfortable, individually. Time permitting, we would lead students in the creation of their own grooves to jam over, soliciting ideas from them for style and parts. Time would be left at the end for questions.

Technical Requirements

An adequate space for the band and large ensemble (band/orchestra room ideal) with access to electricity (extension chords and power strips would be wonderful if available). A PA system with at least one vocal microphone for lead band member. PGM can provide our own instruments.

Q&A Talkback

Length: 30 minutes (or as part of another program)
Ideal for: high school
Bring Instruments: No

PGM would present and take questions on a wide variety of topics that might include: majoring music in college, starting a band, touring, non-musical aspects of being a professional musician (the business side of things) using a traditional music education to play contemporary and pop music, etc.

Technical Requirements

Room for the kids and the band and a microphone if necessary.

Want to Try It Yourself?

Download a sample lesson plan for our workshop “Building a Groove.” Let us know if you have any questions!