Our general workshop is a two-hour workshop using the process outlined below.
This basic structure can be expanded upon to create longer residencies that delve deeper into the process or allow for Chuck and Mira to work with each class in a grade or school. They can also be adapted to your school or program's particular scheduling needs / class lengths. The process itself is highly customizable and the outline below can be considered a "jumping off point" to more specific program development.
Ideal group sizes are typical class sizes, 15-25 students. This workshop is successful with students k-12 (and adults!). It's recommended for grades 2 and up. See "Sing Me a Story" for our suggested pre-k - 1 program. With older groups, the process is occasionally adjusted to include small group work and individualized writing time.
Two-Hour General Workshop Outline:
- Chuck and Mira open the workshop with a song of their own and introduce themselves as traveling songwriters (troubadours)
- Discuss that there are no set rules to songwriting, but introduce the particular method that will be used in the workshop
- Introduce that all decisions in the workshop will be made collectively using Democratic Practice (i.e. voting, majority rules, democracy)
CHOOSE SONG IDEA OR TOPIC:
- Students are presented with a "blank page" and asked to suggest what they believe to be the first step in the process.
- Students suggest song ideas or topics (this discussion can be spontaneous or shaped by pre-determined criteria e.g. classroom curriculum, school theme)
- Students vote to determine the collective preference
- The "storm" of ideas! The group is encouraged to fill the board or other writing space by contributing verbally, while Mira takes notes.
- The brainstorm is approached as a meaningful conversation on our topic.
- The brainstorm ranges in focus from concrete ideas, to more figurative thoughts. The five sense are emphasized here, as well as metaphor and other forms of figurative language.
- This is an opportunity to dig deeper into the topic, to ask questions and be ok with not necessarily finding answers. All questions are embraced.
PARTS OF A SONG:
- Brief discussion about structural elements of a song: CHORUS, VERSES, BRIDGE
- Additionally, LYRICS and MELODY
- Discuss how the concepts of MAIN IDEA and SUPPORTING DETAILS apply in constructing a song
WRITING THE CHORUS:
- Students are encouraged to revisit brainstorm and find a potential MAIN IDEA to pursue in the Chorus
- Drawing from ideas in the brainstorm, students work collectively to write LYRICS (focus again on figurative language as well as rhyme scheme)
- Once the lyrics are written, students are asked to simply "sing" the lyrics however they hear them in their minds to create a MELODY (for examples of this see The Process page)
WRITING THE VERSES:
- Typically, each group will complete two verses using the same approach used in writing the Chorus, this time focusing on SUPPORTING DETAILS.
- Occasionally groups choose to write additional verses, or additional verses are needed to emphasize certain classroom studies (e.g. beginning, middle, end)
- Depending on time and particular needs of the song, some groups choose to create a BRIDGE
- Often this section of the song is employed if there is an important idea or creative line that hasn't yet been used in the song
- The reveal moment! Students are asked to stand and sing their completed song from beginning to end
- This often includes multiple sing-throughs of the song and sometimes discussions of structure and/or revisions (i.e. to begin with the chorus or verse)
- This is usually when the work crystallizes in a sense of accomplishment and celebration. They realize they are songwriters!
- Chuck and Mira record the finished song to send back to the school / classroom.
- Many schools choose to include a final performance / assembly where different groups share their song creations.