For the last 4 years, I have been working with elementary aged youth facilitating after school programs such as swimming, beat making, web design and sports. I started out volunteering at my son’s school as I worked through an injury. When the Boys and Girls Club took over the programs we were running I also began working at the Kimount Clubhouse in Mount Pleasant. Having the chance to be a role model, leader and make a difference in young people’s lives has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. Sure, one of the youth tried to black mail me when they found some old internet footage of me being stupid and more than one spit at/on me and broke my gear but I have also had the honour and privilege to hear profound wisdom on the topics of death, relationships and life from future leaders. I know that the pro’s far out weigh the con’s when hanging with young people.
After a few years of after school programming I decided to branch out and facilitate my own workshops, focusing on my other passion – music. At the time, I had just started making found sound beats and thought that youth would love making noise on purpose. I flipped my creative process upside down when I decided to make a musical template for the found sounds to fit into. This would enable a small group to record the sounds and hear a rough draft of their remix in a matter of minutes.
I created the template so that each participant would have the chance to record one or two sounds for the remix as well as some group sounds like clapping or chanting. The sounds we record are basic – some percussive sounds for the kick, snare and hi hat as well as some high pitch screams for melodies and low pitch vocals for bass lines. I also make sure to bring along my midi keyboard so that youth can play the sounds we have recorded. What kid doesn’t want to hear themselves sound like a chipmunk?
The first year the workshops took place, the kids were remixing a Beastie Boys track called the Intergalactic. I knew that if youth were listening to this remix that the lyrics had to be kid friendly and the Beastie’s party rocking style cannot be denied. Before Party Rock and shufflin! It also helps that leaders all know the track and are more excited and eager to participate.
It worked!! My first set of workshops were very successful. But after a year, kids were calling me out because I hadn’t updated the song. More recently, we have been remixing Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”. It’s simple, easy on the ears and MOST of the kids like it. I know that I will have to change my tune again soon for Christmas, so I am in the process of making some Christmas carol templates for our winter sessions.
Thanks for reading!