On Wednesday, March 27th, eight groups of sixth graders performed raps in front of their peers at the Linden STEAM Academy.
Rachel Candee, the K-8 music teacher at Linden, helped the groups put together this project. This is Candee’s second year teaching there, and the first year she decided to have the students compose their own raps. She was motivated to start this project "because [she] taught at Salemwood over the summer and [they] had this summer camp for students, and one of the music teachers already did the project,” she explained. Candee explains that the project was similar to "creating your own rap song and adding music to it."
The students started off with a listening exercise. Candee introduces this project through "ten different rap songs" and students had to fill out a sheet about the different techniques used by the rappers. They also talked about how rap was like poetry.
After doing the exercises, the students eventually started writing their own lyrics in groups of four or five. Once they finished writing the lyrics, they could choose between a pre-existing track or make their own tracks using Chrome Music Lab or Soundtrap. This was the biggest step in the process, and it took the groups about a month to complete.
Slade Harding, a sixth-grade student at Linden, was just one of the many student performers. His group included Daniel Fandakov, Giovanni Alfaro, and Dante Federico, and they created their own song to perform in front of the grade. They did a rap parody of SICKO MODE by Travis Scott ft. Drake, called Murray Mode.
“We called it Murray Mode because Mr. Murray [the sixth-grade social studies teacher] is the best teacher. [They] like to joke around with him, and thought it would be funny to make a song about him,” Harding says. “When [they] were coming up with the lyrics, [they] just used a lot of inside jokes with Mr. Murray, and worked together to make the rap sound better.”
The actual performances were the best part. When talking about performing, Harding says, “It was really fun. The second [they] got on the stage, everyone started chanting [their] names. [They] also had [their] backup dancers, Jordan Jean, and Karun Kulamavalavan, who got everyone hyped.” Even Mayor Gary Christenson was at the performances, posting some of the student’s raps on his Instagram account.
Additionally, Jarritt Sheel, who teaches at Berklee College of Music, came in to talk to the sixth graders before the performances. Candee explains, “[She] met him at a music conference, and [told him] [they] were doing this project because he was giving a presentation on hip hop… [she] thought it would be really cool if [they] could collaborate.”
Sheel gave a presentation on the style and history of hip hop music, and how it’s such a significant music genre in our world today. Since he’s a DJ on the side, he also showed the students how to scratch records and create song remixes.
Overall, the sixth-grade students at Linden really seemed to enjoy doing this project and creating something of their own to share with others.