Thursday, January 26, 2012

Composing at Reilly Elementary School

Ben Hjertmann, COT Teaching Artist - Composer

We began class Tuesday with our eyes closed (to focus our listening) and concentrated on establishing the mood the students wanted to display for their song "Lost in New York". They wrote their own class lyrics in December for their futuristic Opera about New York City. Once the class had picked the mood of the song, they began to improvise melodies over my piano playing. COT Manager and teaching artist, Linden Christ was listening close to the students responses and repeating back the melodies as the students would sing them. I felt a connection with the students, their instincts for melody were the same as mine. We all seem to have similar instincts, but the hard part is figuring out how to hone them together. A few times, two students would improvise really catchy melodies at the same time, so we'd use both of them.

On Thursday we began by reviewing the chorus for "Lost in New York" and continued on with the verse. Once we had the melody for the verse, we moved to "The Acceptance Song" which is about getting into college. We remembered a mood we had picked on Tuesday, the students called riff "Packing Up" and wrote a melody. COT teaching artist, Mandy Compton was transcribing the students' melodies while I helped them improvise. Some of the kids are really letting go when they improvise. The first week with Opera for All at Reilly turned out to be a blast and was equally inspiring for the students and myself.

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