by Kirby Lindsay
In March Dusty Strings will begin two new, six-week classes as part of their ‘KidsJammin’ program. Designed for kids ages 8 – 12, these hands-on classes, offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, focus on music fundamentals – rhythm, melody, harmony – in an encouraging and inspiring environment.
Dusty Strings, the world-famous acoustic music shop located in underground Fremont (3406 Fremont Avenue North), already offers a full schedule of classes and workshops for adults. KidsJammin’ can open the world of music to a currently under-exposed population. “It’s the older generations that really use Dusty Strings,” explained Tai Shan Kesecker, one of the instructors. KidsJammin,’ she said, can “show the kids the opportunity of the music.”
Ensembles - Erie Jones
On Thursdays, starting March 11, from 4:30 – 5:30p, Erie Jones, a Seattle Public School music teacher, will instruct on ensemble work. “Kids that have experience are welcome, as well as kids without experience,” Jones invited.
Jones incorporates a variety of musical types (jazz, world music, folk, classical, etc.) into his class. Students experiment with a variety of instruments including hand drums, steel drums, 1 or 2 octave marimbas, guitar, recorder, baritone ukulele, etc. Those who have their own instruments can bring them along, and plenty more will be made available from Dusty Strings and Jones’ own collection.
“More and more formal research,” Jones allowed, “shows that kids that engage with music grow the math and language sections of their brain.” Yet, Jones wanted to focus on the even more intangible benefits of learning music and performing including self-confidence, outlets for expression, creativity and engaging both left and right sides of the brain. Ensemble work most especially demands students learn to cooperate and utilize teamwork skills.
Songwriting - Tai Shan Kesecker
On Tuesdays, starting March 9, from 4:30 – 5:30p, Kesecker will teach songwriting and, “all about getting in touch with the inner child.” For children still building communication skills, songwriting provides a great outlet and a new way of “expressing the emotion that is inside of you,” Kesecker explained.
Classes begin, Kesecker described, with a listening session and discussions of “what exactly is going on in a song.” Through free write, improvisation, repetition and jamming, the students learn about lyrics, melody, form and arrangement. “Song writing is both sides of the fence,” she described, “words and music.”
“A lot of kids sing,” Kesecker explained, “in the car, doing chores, etc. and have a lot of melodies in their heads.” The class will help capture these songs, “and when it’s original, I find kids work on [music] almost three times as hard.” Song writing, she said, “gives [students] a sense of pride and ownership – and teaches they can go outside the lines.”
Final Class Project
The cost of $90 for each six-week class also pays for a CD, made by the students, that includes their ensemble performances and original works. For those students who register for both classes, the cost is $160.
For those who either can’t do six weeks in March and April, or want more, Dusty Strings will also offer a day camp July 25 – 30, 2010. Taught by Kesecker (song writing and improvisation), Amy Carroll (folk singing and dance), and Rob Bulkely (building and decorating guitar kits), the students rotate among the teachers and participate in all three areas of music.
To register for KidsJammin’ classes, or find out more about Dusty Strings, check out their website or give them a call at 206/634-1662. Better still, wander down the stairs and take a look around – you’ll never be disappointed!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.