Fifth Graders to Perform Songs They Wrote Themselves as Part of the Los Angeles Master Chorale's Voices Within Program
"Be Brave!" and "Just Say Yes!" are two of the rules of collaboration fifth grade students follow when they take part in the Los Angeles Master Chorale's Voices Within program. The Fall series of Voices Within concerts featuring students performing songs they have written will take place on Wednesday, November 14 at Carlos Santana Arts Academy and Friday, November 16 at Hooper Avenue Elementary School.
The concerts are the culmination of the 12-week Voices Within program that brings three teaching artists-a composer, a lyricist, and a performer-into the schools to introduce the students to music ideas such as pitch, rhythm, and melody, and teaches them how to apply these concepts to songwriting. The students perform their songs for fellow students, teachers, and friends and family. Each school will give two performances.
A theme for the songs is provided and the students work collaboratively in groups to write the lyrics and melodies for six songs. For the students, the process encourages them to work with fellow students they may not know very well with "behave as if your team is made up of your best friends" among the Rules of Collaboration they are asked to follow. All students are encouraged to share their ideas and feelings during the songwriting process to ensure that the whole group takes ownership of the resulting song that is then proudly performed on concert day.
For the November concerts students at Carlos Santana Arts Academy wrote songs on the theme of "Opening Doors," inspired by the school's focus on preparing its students for college. The songs created are based on topics of:
· Growth Mindset
· Social Awareness
· Relationship Skills
· Passion & Inspiration
The teaching artists working with the Carlos Santana Arts Academy students are performer Alice Kirwan Murray, lyricist Doug Cooney, and composer Michael Alfera.
Math and Science provided the inspiration for the Hooper Avenue Elementary School students whose songs are about:
· Black Holes
Teaching artists working with the Hooper Avenue students are performer Amy Fogerson, lyricist Brett Paesel, and composer Michael Alfera.
On the concert day, the students are joined by eight members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale who sing with them at the culmination performances, providing the students with the exciting opportunity to hear their songs sung by professional singers.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale partners with elementary schools for Voices Within residencies twice a year with concerts in the Fall and Spring. Additionally, Voices Within includes an Oratorio Project that engages high school students to compose a full-length oratorio and then perform it. The Master Chorale also presents an annual High School Choir Festival that brings about 1,000 students from around the Southland to sing at Walt Disney Concert Hall. In 2019, the High School Choir Festival will mark its 30th anniversary and will be held on Friday, May 3.
Voices Within was developed for the Los Angeles Master Chorale by Marnie Mosiman in collaboration with Bernardo Solano, Penka Kouneva, David O, and Doug Cooney. The first residency was held in 2001 and the program has subsequently been awarded Chorus America's Education and Community Engagement Award. Voices Within is made possible by generous grants from:
American Business Bank
The ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund
California Arts Council
City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Employees Community Fund of Boeing California
The Green Foundation
William H. Hannon Foundation
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors / Kathryn Barger
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors / Mark Ridley-Thomas
The Kenneth T, and Eileen L. Norris Foundation
Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts
Ann Peppers Foundation
Lon V. Smith Foundation
Sidney Stern Memorial Trust
John and Beverly Stauffer Foundation
Dwight Stuart Youth Fund
Walter and Holly Thomson Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee