SAN O C S I C N A R F MIMA SONGWRITING PROGRAM REPORT JUNE 2011
The 15 Foundation sponsored MIMA to produce a musical program for kids in San Francisco to help raise money for their nutrition education. MIMA teachers Caleb Dance and Alan Gaskill, and teacher trainees Monica Bolles and Itai Peer, accepted the challenge.
MIMA hosted a 1-week songwriting program for 20 kids, aged 7-11, at Connolly Ranch, and for 12 teens, aged 13-14, at the MLK School. The CR kids performed their song at a benefit dinner, and the King kids debuted their music video at a 1200-person theater.
Mysterious...Butterflies... Chill, chill, chill, chill... Tribal, tribal, tribal, tribal...SISTERS!!! Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish) Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish) Dragon-tail, fli-i-i-i-ip Flying pigs take a dip. Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish) Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish) A starfish started to fly. High up in the sky, spinning in space past the sun, it was having lots of fun. Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish) Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish) Take a dip in the lake. On the shore we like to bake. It bounced off of the land. It landed in the sand and it slid into the sea, where it was free and happy.
Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish) Spectacular, Synchronized, Shooting Starfish (starfish)
SPECTACULAR SYNCHRONIZED SHOOTING STARFISH
An original MIMA song Composed and played by the students of CONNOLLY RANCH NAPA, CA
Doing my work while thinking of a rhyme, studying for a test, my brain’s turning to slime. I got a book report, and it’s really major. I should be cleaning my room, so can you do me a favor? I don’t have a lot of money but I can give you a dime, so don’t fool around, I don’t have much time. When it’s finally done it’ll be something to savor. With the help of my brothers, we have the strongest flavor! We’re not who you see on the evening news. We strive for excellence in all we do. We know it’s not impossible— that’s the thing, because the blood that flows through us, comes from kings!
We’re the proud young brothers being schooled in Berkeley, in the mode of Malcolm, Martin and Marcus Garvey. Our mission here is to raise the bar, so we’ll be respected wherever we are. We come from different cultures but the goal is the same. We strive to be the best at playing this game. Some people look at us and think it can’t be done but what they don’t understand is that we are one!
EVENING NEWS MUSIC VIDEO
An original MIMA song Composed and played by the students of KING MIDDLE SCHOOL BERKELEY, CA
We’re not who you see on the evening news, because we strive for excellence in all we do. We may seem small in numbers but you will see, that in time there will be more like you and me. We’re on the road to be scientists and mathematicians, engineers and doctors and even musicians. We know it’s not impossible— that’s the thing, because the blood that flows through us, comes from kings!
Top row: Caleb Dance begins a listening exercise at Connolly Ranch; students, teachers and parents scream in unison; the Connolly Ranch kids perform in Napa, CA; Middle row: the MLK students learn the cups game; Caleb Dance helps Elijah create a melody; Jonathan films the chorus for “Evening News” at Live Oak studios; Bottom row: the MLK kids meet Robin Quivers backstage; the debut of “Evening News”; Rock & Roll Hall of Fame musician Leon Russell plays at the final concert.
Jonathan Barnes is a founding trustee of MIMA Music, Inc. and oversees the daily operations of the organization as its Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. A graduate of Stanford Law School (J.D. 2007) and Princeton University (A.B. Philosophy 2003), Jonathan has
also worked as an associate for the Boston Consulting Group in New York City. Jonathan plays guitar and piano, and DJs. Jonathan has managed MIMA projects in Brazil, Cyprus, El Salvador, England and the USA.
FLAVOR: MIMA in SF Program Report by Jonathan Barnes We spent each morning in Napa at Connolly Ranch, where they had a Spring Break camp for local kids. That meant we worked with the same kids each day. In addition to the normal Connolly Ranch nature activities, the kids worked with us (MIMA) to play music and write songs in the outdoors. Over the course of the week, the kids wrote their own song and performed it for the Connolly Ranch staff. The song was highly original and creative for a group of 7-11 year olds. They called it “Spectacular Synchronized Shooting Starfish” and it was a story about a starfish that jumped into outer space, flew around, and eventually bounced back onto the beach, landing in the ocean. During the songwriting process, the kids also wrote plays, choreographed dances, and made up music to play along with their activities. (As a side note, you could tell they were hippie children — I’ve never seen so many 8-year-olds in tie dye before in my life!).
None of them had been to a studio before so it was a life-changing experience for them. The end of the week at Connolly was very touching because the kids had made gifts for all the MIMA teachers. Each kid wrote a thank-you card with their own words and pictures, and the kids also gave us honey and eggs that they had harvested from the bees and chickens. Some highlights from the thank-you cards were: a drawing of a sheep playing a saxophone, with the words “MIMA is cool!”; and a 3-dimensional card made
by Emma, who taped a clump of sheep’s wool to a mentally handicapped boy in class, turned out to be the group’s best drummer. All of his classthe paper (labeled “sheep’s wool”), had the sheep mates were very supportive of him throughout take a bite out of the paper (labeled “sheep’s the week. We captured enough good footage of bite”), and then took a bite out of the paper herhim in the studio that we were able to use his self (labeled “Emma’s bite”). drumming track as the backbone of the song. He loved playing drums and it was very clear to all of Then, during the afternoons, we went to us that this week was a huge creative outlet for Berkeley where we worked with students from him. Martin Luther King Middle School. The group there was all boys, ages 13-14. We went through Speaking of recording: to end the week, the same MIMA curriculum as we did in Napa. By we brought the King boys into a recording studio the end of the week, the boys had written their in Berkeley to record their song. It was the same own song, called “Evening news.” It is a combinastudio where Destiny’s Child, En Vogue, Tony Toni tion of reggae and funk and rap. The song is about Tone, Too Short, and Mazzy Star had recorded. All their experience in middle school. My favorite line the boys were extremely well-behaved, and were is the first one: “Doing my work while thinking of more than eager to stay late into the evening a rhyme / Studying for a test, my brain’s turning when we ran overtime. to slime.” The chorus gets more serious and talks about their goals for success and their pride in We are all very grateful to 15 Foundation their heritage. for making the project possible. All of the MIMA teachers ended the week feeling just as inspired The most touching part of our week with as the kids they taught! the King boys was when we discovered that Ivan,
BY ROBIN QUIVERS
BY PAUL FLENOID
Founder and President 15 Foundation
Project coordinator KING MIDDLE SCHOOL BERKELEY, CA
Why did you chose music for a nutrition-oriented vision? First of all, the kids are getting great nutritional information in these two programs, so it wasn’t about giving them nutritional information, but it was about giving something else to them. We were basing our whole fundraising effort around music, so what better idea to bring music to these kids who are talking about nutrition and cooking! This is the main reason they are getting together. The thing that was interesting to me about MIMA is that they work with children that aren’t musical, who don’t play instruments or sing, or ordinarily have this idea about themselves as being musical. They teach everyone that they have music inside them. I think anything that sparks an interest, that shows you can do something, that people have told you that you can’t do — it broadens a person’s perspective. You’ll never see the world in the same way once you know that you can do something. You can never go back to being the person who automatically accepts, “I can’t.” And that’s what I think is amazing about MIMA. What makes you happy and how do you feel you have an influence? The term role model is something that we throw around in society. Usually just by being in the public eye, you become a role model, whether you deserve that title or not. People see you, people take things from that, and either they try to do something different or to emulate what you are doing. And I take that very seriously. I think it’s great to have fun and to do a show about entertainment, but I also think it’s important to give back. If I have touched your life in any way I’m really happy about that. When I get the letters back, or when I actually get to see some of the children that have been helped by programs that have been sponsored by 15, I am ecstatic because I know that something is happening in their lives that wouldn’t have ordinarily happened because of the people they meet along the way.
What was your favorite part of the program? My favorite part of the process was seeing how it came together out of, what for us seemed like, innocent little games — from the first day when they played the cup games, the hand clapping, showing where the beat was, just making a sound, and then 8 people making sounds that turned into the rhythm for the song — that was just incredible. Although we learned a lot, it didn’t feel like we were in a school or anything. It was just very effortless. Seeing the whole process come together out of exercises, putting together the song and the music, and seeing the boys pick up instruments — most of them for the first time — and creating this music that is going to be available for everyone to see was pretty amazing.
INTERVIEW BY ELIJAH BROOKS Student KING MIDDLE SCHOOL BERKELEY, CA Why is music important? Music is all around you. Tapping on the wall. Stomping your feet. Clapping your hands. Whistling. It’s all around you. For instance, the instruments that I play are violin, piano and I’m learning how to play the drums. I’m pretty excited. To me, music is just really fun and interesting. Being in this program means a lot to me because I’m going to be on the Internet and I can show all my friends.
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