monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

3 minutes reading time (633 words)

Caesura Continued -- Working with F.A.C.E. Music Students

If you've been following my blog, you'll know I'm working on an exciting project called Caesura with music students from F.A.C.E. High School. These students are talented musicians who, because of the pandemic, are uanble to take part in the live performances that would usually have been the highlight of their school year. Which is why my friend, F.A.C.E. music teacher Ms. Stathopoulos came up with the idea of my doing a series of writing workshops with the students in which they'll reflect on what this caesura (the musical term for a "full stop") has meant to them. When I am finished helping them with their texts, the students will get to work with musician Tim Brady, who will teach them how to set their texts to music.

I was looking forward to today because I knew the students were going to start writing. And a couple of students were brave enough to share their work not only with me, but also with their classmates.

The students I worked with today are all in Grade Ten. There was some time for questions, answers and comments -- while the teachers were helping me get access to the students' work on the Teams platform. (I have to admit I was a rather slow learner.) A student I'll call G remarked, "I can't think of what to write. I can only think of the music." I thought that G's comment reflects how many musicians must think and feel. So I suggested G write a piece describing that experience -- of being more comfortable expressing herself through music rather than words.

The two students who agreed to share their work were T and L. T opened her piece with the haunting lines: "Dust on my instrument; dust on my talent." Beautiful, no? I told the students how great stories and beautiful writing give me goosebumps -- that's what T's piece did for me. And you know what? T's work was just notes -- but I'm pretty sure she's not only a musician, but a poet, too! (And now I'm re-reading this blog and thinking... hey notes can refer to taking notes, but why not also musical notes?!) L's piece was in French (Caesura is a bilingual project). One of my favourite lines in her piece was, "J'entends ma propre voix" -- which means "I hear my own voice." L went on to describe what her voice has been telling her -- and I suggested perhaps she could try using dialogue in her piece -- that way she'd make room for her own voice. You know, L ... one of the goals of writing is to find your own voice, so it's pretty amazing that you can hear yours in your head! Keep listening!

Before I finish up today's blog entry, I'd like to quote something teacher Marie-Eve pointed out to the students: "Music is all around you. It's the birds around you...." Marie-Eve gave more examples, but I had stopped writing because I was just reflecting on what an important point she had made. And it helped me to understand better the connection between words and music -- and what the Caesura project is all about.

So, if it sounds like I'm learning as much from Caesura as the students, it's because I am!

I'll see these students again next week -- and I'm hoiping that by then, I'll have read more of their work, and will be able to share more comments and suggestions.

Thanks to the students for working hard, and being so open; thanks to the teachers for being wonderful; to Ms. Stathopoulos for thinking up this project, and to ELAN ArtistsInspire and to the F.A.C.E. Foundation for making this project possible. Here's to words and music and the sounds of everything, including birds!

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Sunday, 03 December 2023

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