By TGS Teacher, Sherry Zhang
Traveling isn’t just about seeing what’s on the itinerary, but having the courage to go off the beaten path. A parallel can be found in education: rather than start off with a “must see” (or rather, “must learn”) list, I asked them: what would you like to do in creative arts? Answers ranged from visual arts and theater to creative writing, but the most enthusiasm was shown for music!
In collaboration with the director at a nearby professional recording studio, we put together a unit introducing the students to the digital audio editing program GarageBand, along with the basics of professional studio recording equipment. Each student recorded his or her own one-minute audio sample and then worked together in teams to remix their tracks together.
Based on their previous musical experience and personal preferences, students were then divided into three “bands” where each person was given the role of vocals, instrumentals, or sound engineers. They were asked to come up with a band name and “re-mix” their lyrics together into a new song, which the vocalists would sing live at the recording studio. I shared with them the poem, “Life Just Isn’t,” and asked the students to write a mirror piece, “Art Just Isn’t,” so as to give them the opportunity to think, reflect, and (re)define to what art is and isn’t to them. Here are the original lyrics each student composed for their first creative arts assignment (link).
As their teacher, I find myself learning to improvise in harmony with students’ own voices through our creative arts journey together. The students challenge and make me think: pushing and redefining the boundaries of even the term “creative arts,” they see and sing of hidden beauty, forming notes of grace. As one student reminds us: “When I look at a beautiful marble statue, I’m not only seeing the statue — I’m seeing the the pieces of marble that were chipped off long ago, unattended to. But that’s just the creative arts, what about nature itself as in the mountains that sprouted out of the ground millions of years ago, or the human mind…”
Coming up…two professional singers who have signed on with record labels will be speaking with our students via Skype to share their own experiences recording their album tracks. Stay “tuned” to hear our students’ final productions!