In August, 2016 I was given the opportunity to write 7 songs in 2 weeks with approximately 70 students at RuBarb School of Performing Arts’ Summer Camp in Moose Jaw, SK. Included here are videos of our live performances and downloadable songs on a playlist you can stream and share!
My brief experiences working with RuBarb students in 2015 showed me how very musical they are, but I had no idea the depth and variety of their artistic talents and willingness to experiment. Our song ideas took us all over the map and beyond into other galaxies, far far away. Each song could easily have been a novel, movie or television series on it’s own.
We clapped, we sang, we played, we danced and more frequently, we voted. Collaborative songwriting is so different than with only one individual artist and although we decided early on that there would be no rules behind our subject matter, it very quickly became a democracy to help us break down our infinite ideas into manageable melodies in the forms of verses, choruses and bridges.
We talked about how “creativity” is another word for “improvement” and the possibilities that arose from our collective creative inspirations improved and refined our ideas into songs over several days. We discussed recording and live performance options, making some cool demos in the process. Emotion, cooperation and courage were front and centre in our workshops during the final days when we were confronted with an end-of-week deadline.
I couldn’t be more impressed with how these participants willingly shared and respected each other’s ideas and opinions, sometimes “winning” the vote with their suggestion but also resigning to settle at times on other ideas that worked better in the moment (or just won more votes in the moment). Dancers deliberated on choreography until satisfied while others learned new instruments on the fly and without very much individual instruction. Some brought their own instruments from home or worked on recordings to help our process move along. And one group excitedly expanded their idea to include a whole play, featuring narration, costumes, set design, props and other cues. (See the video for “Harry Potter & The Dragon Lord” in the above playlist!)
It was amazing to be a part of this process as a creativity/artistic coach; mostly because at times my main function was saying “yes, let’s do that” or to be the voting coordinator. They took so much initiative to keep things rolling that at times I felt more like a guardrail than a catalyst for creativity. We had so much fun together; I loved being a part of the musical exploration and also watching it unfold from the sidelines when momentum was strong enough for them to carry it on their own. I also loved raising our voices together in a way that was exciting, harmonious and powerful!
Participants: if you are reading this, you are all tremendous artists and I am so proud of what we made happen together. Thank you for your courageous ambition, your patience when it was challenging and your willingness to try new things. Included in the above video playlist is a song I wrote last year called “Make Your Own Rules” that I played for some of you in person and encompasses many of the “lessons” from our sessions. I hope you experienced joy and growth as a result of our time together, as I did. I hope you will listen to the songs/videos, play/sing (lyrics & chords below) and share the great memories we made. And I hope you’ll keep in touch any time!
Find me online at lindseywhite.com
Lyrics & chords from week 2: rubarb-songs-2016-week-2