By Corey Gold
Diller Teen Fellows program participant
Over the past few months, KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) students interested in expanding their musical horizons participated in an after school workshop. Using the skills they had achieved from the curricular music program at KIPP, sixth and seventh graders participated in the program to explore new ways of making music and genres such as jazz, rock, and pop. With a wide variety of instruments, including a piano, drum kit, flute, bass clarinet and trumpet, the group produced an upbeat sound, unlike that of an orchestral ensemble.
Overseeing this project, I had the chance to help these KIPP middle school express themselves through music in a way different than in a traditional band setting. After learning about the KIPP music program from Ms. Krystal Williams, I designed a program to introduce interested students to improvisation, the skill of producing music without preparation, extemporaneously in a group setting.
On Fridays, I came to the school with other teen volunteers to work with KIPP students. With arrangements like Fun’s “Some Nights” and Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America,” KIPP kids became acquainted with this new type of thinking and playing. Together, the group listened to recordings of Miles Davis’s improvisation, and then worked to mimic his style over these pop songs. Some students even branched out to experiment with new instruments, like Kayla C., who learned to play with the group on a piano. In fact, clarinetist Josh F., who started to play trumpet at the beginning of the workshop, has since switched to play trumpet full-time for the school band.
Although this type of performance is not part of the traditional festival band setting, this type of experience can allow one to continue to explore music outside of the classroom. With this ability, students can take their musical talents with them to high schools, college campuses and the future.
For information about THE ASSOCIATED’s teen programs, go to http://www.associated.org/teens.aspx.