Our workshops are essentially a guided practice in the creative process.
In as little as two hours, students with our guidance and support, rigorously engage in critical thinking and problem solving by working through each facet of the songwriting process, from blank page to completed song.
Students collectively choose the song topic, write lyrics, and create an original melody all through the use of the democratic process. Any and all subject matter encountered in the classroom is open for consideration, and workshops can be shaped very specifically to incorporate particular themes, topics or classroom studies.
Additionally, students build on literary techniques used in creative and academic writing, from simple concepts such as rhyme and meter to more advanced discussions about point of view and perspective.
Inside the Process
This video describes our process in the context of a summer program we've been a part of for the last 5 years in Big Ugly, West Virginia.
Below is a "fly-on-the-wall" perspective of one of the messier and MOST creative parts of the process. When the video begins we find this group of 5th graders having completed the chorus of their song but now needing to complete the verses. The song is about the Roanoke Colony or "Lost Colony" that disappeared in 1587. Their challenge was deciding how to incorporate all of the theories of what happened to the colony into the song lyrics and, finally, add a melody or tune to those lyrics.
Here, you can listen to the completed version of "Roanoke, Roanoke," sung by Mira and Chuck.
Creating a Melody...
In the video below, is a look at a few moments during the creation of "A Man and a Whale," a song about the doomed whaling industry in CT. In this video, these 5th graders are working on the lyrics and then the melody for the first verse. As you will see, when creating the melody, we simply ask the students to "sing" the words from the page however they hear them in their minds.
Note: The students chose to explore perspective in this piece, writing the first verse from the point of view of the whaler and the second verse from that of the whale. They took on the further challenge to write a chorus that applies to both characters.
Here you can hear the final version of " A Man and a Whale," sung by students as it appeared on CT Sings: Stories from the Constitution State Vol. 1
And more melodies...
In the audio clip below, you can hear another moment after the students were asked to simply "sing" the lyrics they had just written however they heard them in their minds. This song was a multi-school project including twelve Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Schools from across the state of CT.
This video, taken a few minutes later, shows the development of the initial melodic idea with the entire class singing along.
And finally, here you can listen to how this verse and melody ended up in the final studio recorded version of the H.O.T. Schools Theme Song 2015/2016.