Songwriting & Exploring Creativity!
When I spend time in schools, I create environments where students (and teachers!) can explore their creative gifts and abilities. We all need a safe place to take creative risks and try something for the first time. So that’s my first job…to create that safe space.
The songwriting workshops are great for this, especially when I’m working with younger classes where some students have trouble spelling or writing. I ask the class questions about who they are, their interests, their age, activities, likes, dislikes, etc.
This generates excitement right out of the gate. They are able to talk about themselves, which is something most of us are comfortable doing. They start to see similarities and differences with others in their class. As I’m writing their ideas down, I celebrate all the information…so being different or liking different things is encouraged, because it’s not a competition. It’s a celebration of who the class is together.
Last week I was working with a Grade 1-2 split. I was prepped before I started that there had been some bullying going on in the class. The teacher was really hoping the experience would encourage the kids to be kind to each other. She had shown them a video of a song I’d written with kids at another school in advance…and they were pumped.
When I walked into the room a little boy at the back of class burst out, “oh Rik Leaf, we’ve been waiting so long for you to come. We are so excited you are here!”
An absolutely amazing song emerged as we worked together. They identified the different clans they were from. I encouraged them to put their hand up when we sang the name of their clan. This let them be proud of who they are, while identifying with others from the same clan. It also helped visualize that the class was made up of a number of different clans, but that together we’re better. The chorus became the positive reinforcement that the teacher was looking for.
On Friday afternoon when this Grade 1-2 class got up in front of the school to perform, the song took on a broader context and felt like a school anthem. The assembly ended with a round dance in the gym that included everyone in attendance.