James has developed a program for songwriting in the schools called Rhyme Capsules. His workshops have created so many budding songwriters, that if he keeps it up he’ll have put himself out of work in a few years!
I’ve got a method of working with the kids that works pretty well: with a class of up to thirty students from K-8 we do a crash course in songwriting together and as a group, in less than 90 minutes we compose a song from beginning to end. I find that the students write amazing songs about their communities, their school, their environment, and about important current issues. The sessions have often inspired students to continue with creative writing on their own, with rewarding results. I can do four classes a day. The most successful school visit covers a whole week. I come up with at least 12 and usually 16 songs with the kids in the first four days. We then spend a morning polishing and rehearsing them, then on the final day the students are not only songwriters, they are performers in an assembly for the whole community! I record the songs with them on state-of-the-art digital equipment, and the finished recording is offered for sale by the school to parents and friends.
“BUT I’VE GOT NO BUDGET” you say….
Wait… I have a plan….
In these tough times I have come up with a scheme that seems to work really well. My fee is 400 dollars per day. For a typical 5 day residency that’s 2000 dollars. To produce and manufacture a CD of the week’s songs requires a minimum order of 300 CD’s at 7 dollars each. That’s another 2100 dollars , or a grand total of 4100 dollars. The finished CD’s can then be sold by the school for at least 14 dollars each, and believe me, there’s usually enough parents, uncles and aunts with singer/songwriter kids on the recording to sell at least that many. Sell them all and revenue for you is 4200 dollars.
This means you make a profit!
Some schools have sold more than this and used the surplus as a fund-raiser for other events. I’d love to come to your school with this project. Schools often find that the collection of songs helps to strengthen their identity and community spirit. The tools learned are often used later by teachers to do their own songwriting with the kids, a medium that students find accessible, relevant and fun! These days I often bring a multi-generational aspect to the proceedings too…inviting seniors to come in to the classroom and tell their tales to the kids, providing great songwriting material and a great connection within the community.
I usually find time to do four or five of these projects a year. I’d be happy to chat more about this with you, or send you more information and examples of other school projects. Just send a note via the contact form and I’ll get in touch.
James works with songwriters in Onanole, MB