As the sun dawned on a beautiful, if humid, morning in Manhattan, a Disney lyric popped into my head: “And at last I see the light, and it’s like the fog has lifted.” While I could see the literal light, a figurative one was shining in my heart because the fifth annual Young Writers’ Workshop began today!
The morning was off to a musical start after staff introductions and an icebreaker activity. Between playing snippets of Disney songs and instrumental pieces, the young writers discussed what emotions the pieces evoked in them. Some of the headliners were joy, anxiety, sadness, and redemption. After the list of emotions was compiled, the young writers brainstormed a list of random places where these things could be felt; Sturgeon, Missouri, underwater, and the White House were honorable mentions. Finally, the young writers created a list of gifts that caused them to feel these same emotions.
Once the three lists were made, the group chose the gift, location, and mood they felt would make the best song. The writers were then faced with their ultimate challenge of the morning: write a song about a clown wearing a propeller hat on the roof of a New York apartment complex based on the emotions sadness and redemption.
Most people would have been daunted when faced with such a task; however, our young writers aren’t most people. They took the challenge seriously, using an abab rhyme scheme to write the clown’s sad but ultimately redeeming story. The writers collectively wrote the four-stanza song and then performed it as a large group. (Special shoutout to Enrique for dropping a sick beat and Isaiah for rapping it in front of the Workshop. Y’all rock!)
The writers then formed three groups . As soon as the groups
were formed, an instructor was matched with each and the 2018 groups were made: the Local Dreamers, T-Minus 7, and Underrated Uranium.
The three groups gathered in the Beach Museum where they embarked on a surprise scavenger hunt. The items on the list were scattered throughout the Museum, hidden in the many pieces of artwork within the gallery. However, the writers expertly traversed the huge collections, and each group successfully found each of the items.
Lucky for our writers, guest writer — Laurie Shelton — came to explain the process of song writing. A local songwriter, drummer, and performer, Laurie is also a school psychologist at Manhattan High School and has taught at the music camp Girls Rock Lawrence.
Between listening to BTS and Queen songs, the writers discussed what a song is and the elements it includes, and made a list of the qualities of a good song. Laurie Shelton asked each of them to write verses centered around a main theme.
With their newfound knowledge, the writers began pairing their verses with specific chords to create purposeful songs. Isaiah sang an angsty number about hunger called “Lumpy Ketchup”; many of the writers agreed the “I’m hungry” line was the most relatable lyric in the song. Tyler then took center stage to sing about whether or not people should care about other’s opinions. She was accompanied by both Gavin and Laurie Shelton on guitar. Their chord expertise helped match music to the thought provoking single, enhancing the message of the lyrics. Jackson was the last of our writers to volunteer to sing. Through his song, he protested against the problems we face in the world, addressing subjects like environmentalism and nuclear testing. Needless to say, I would be surprised if some of our writers didn’t make it onto the Top 40 by the end of the week.
Isaiah performing “Lumpy Ketchup”
Should we care about other people’s opinions of us?
Discussing the world’s problems through song.
As the day came to an end, I couldn’t help but think of more Disney song lyrics: “Prepare for the chance of a lifetime/Be prepared for sensational news/A shining new era/Is tiptoeing nearer…” Considering the work our writers put in today, I can’t wait to see what they come up with tomorrow. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you can keep up with the writers’ progress throughout the week! As Mother Gothel from Disney’s Tangled says, “Don’t forget it/You’ll regret it!”
— Adrianna, Program Assistant