New Rec & Ed after-school program shows students that everyone can be a composer

“MY Song” is designed and presented by members of The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News

There may or may not be another Mozart in Rec & Ed‘s new “MY Song” after-school program, but that’s hardly the point.

“The goal is not necessarily to find the most talented students,” said Yi-Ching Chen, director of education and community engagement for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, who designed the class. “It’s really to inspire all of them and encourage an interest and enthusiasm for music.”

Ann Arbor Rec & Ed has partnered with the AASO to offer a weekly after-school class designed to teach children to learn some basics and write their own melodies. Ten students at Allen Elementary have been the first students of this program, which is headed into its final of six weeks.

“We are very excited to work with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra to get this program into our after-school program,” said Rec & Ed Supervisor Ivy Juan. “We’re excited that students will get to explore their talents in music and at the same time, learn basics like notes and how to count. And at the end, we hope that they will be able to make their own songs.”

Yi-Ching Chen, director of education and community engagement for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, says students have enjoyed writing melodies, and then hearing her play them on the piano.
“That’s been the most exciting part for the students—just being able to hear the songs they just wrote,” she says.

Yi-Ching Chen helps a student with the process of putting lyrics to music.

Chen designed the class, and this is the first time it has been offered anywhere. One of the units the class includes having students draw what think a composer looks like, and then draw a self-portrait.
“That shows, `Hey, you can be a composer, too. Everybody can write their own melodies,'” she said. “The students have been progressing tremendously. We’ve gone from learning what a quarter-note is to now pretty much all of them can write eight-bar melodies.”

Cassie Eide, teaching artist with the AASO, noted that the class helped the younger studies see how they can write music, while the older students wrote all kinds of melodies, ke all kinds of melodies, and just getting the experience, to see they made it and it sounds cool. That makes them really excited about playing instruments and listening to music.”

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