Classroom experiences are created to make magical moments for the learners. In music, these magical moments can come from many different experiences. I have had these moments in performance many times, but the most memorable have been from the realization of my own musical ideas, my own compositions. As I think of ways to design these experiences for the musicians that visit my classroom, I try to ensure that they emerge from the individual’s musicianship.
The 4/5 grade musicians at East Hills and West Hills Middle Schools are making their songs for Music 2 Save Music. They are navigating this experience for their first time and I would like to share some of the incredible musical moments we are creating in class. In general, there are a few songwriters in each class. They are the musicians who have a song playing in their minds all day, mostly the recitative of their lives. These songs are much easier to capture with the technology many have in their pocket.
The above picture is my 8 year old recording her song into her iPod touch’s Voice Momos to remember the melody she created to use later. These songwriters may not have the tools and understandings they need to realize their music into “songs” yet. Some do. This is that songwriter’s time to shine, scaffold other musicians in the class, and create those magical musical moments.
I am a cheerleader and fan when I need to be, and a producer or studio musician when needed. The songs emerge from the musicians ideas. Today we started a song from the beginning. Through some dialogue and suggestions from different musicians in the class, we came up with this outline. The big idea of their song is that there are different ways of being rich.
Two verses (verse 1 is about being rich with money, and verse 2 is about being rich in other ways), then chorus and of course a featured artist who will rap. The musicians decided that the verses should of contrasting genre because the lyrics are contrasting as well. Verse 1 will be pop and verse 2 will be acoustic rock, with the chorus being pop plus electric sounds. (Pretty sophisticated plan for their piece.) We began brainstorming lyrics. Please pay close attention to the way the musicians show beat and style through their body language to one another. We haven’t created any of the rhythm, melody, or harmony yet.
The beginning stages took about five minutes. Enough time for the musicians to discuss lyrics and form a few lines that they connected with. We wrote the lyrics down and put them into an order that made sense together. The lyrics are:
We are (rich X3)
In our own ways
Even (onX3) on a bad day
Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter
We are all different in our own way
There was some apprehension about using voice to create an original melody and taking a risk to share any musical thoughts with the class. This is my first year at this school and these musicians. We are building relationships and a community of supportive risk-takers. The apprehension quickly disappeared when a melody was heard from one of the musicians in the class. Everyone really liked it. I quickly realized the vocal melody on the piano and the class sang through the words a few times. As they became more comfortable with the melody, revisions began emerging. The melody was revised a few times including ending the melody with an ascending pattern to transition to the next line.
When this came together, the energy of the room changed. The musicians were sitting on the edge of their chairs asking to sing the verse over and over. They asked to share their musical idea with their classroom teacher as soon as he came to the door. They were excited. These are magical moments for them. Since this class period, earlier today, there have been many musicians from that class that have come to my room between classes and sought me out during lunch to share new ideas they had. These are magical moments for me.
Create these moments for the musicians, they deserve them.
More to come from Music 2 Save Music soon. Until then, please visit and like our Music 2 Save Music Facebook page.