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Adam Ezra Group

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Students learn art of songwriting; Hillside School holds workshop.

Byline: Jennifer Lucarelli

Adam Ezra discovered his love of music when he was in elementary school.

As lead singer of the Adam Ezra Group, a Boston-based folk-rock band, he and his band have decided to give back to children around the country through songwriting workshops.

Most recently, Mr. Ezra visited Hillside Hillside School in Marlboro and taught students the songwriting process.

"This is a fairly new workshop for us to do," he said. "But we're trying to take the magic out of songwriting for students, so they can learn how to do it."

When he meets with a group of students, he starts by telling a story from his life. "Then I play a song based on that story," he said. "That way they can see where a song comes from."

Then he works with the students to come up with a theme for a song, what type of background music - fast, slow, happy, sad, etc. "Then we add one instrument from the band one at a time," he said. "When we're done, we usually have a couple of songs to weave together from the different age groups and the kids really enjoy it."

Students at Hillside School presented a song they wrote with the Adam Ezra Band at a school event May 1.

The project resulted from connections between the Hillside Parent and Family Association and the band.

The students' topics for their songs included "boarding school life" for the eighth- and ninth-graders to "trying to fit in" for the seventh-graders to "girls" for the fifth- and sixth-grade students.

Once the students had a subject, they moved to the second stage of the process, choosing instruments and music to bring their music to life.

The older students favored heavy percussion with a slow or medium beat, while the younger students chose a fast tempo tempo [Ital.,=time], in music, the speed of a composition. The composer's intentions as to tempo are conventionally indicated by a set of Italian terms, of which the principal ones are presto (very fast), vivace (lively), allegro (fast),  with the keyboard.

During the process, Mr. Ezra encouraged the students, saying, "You don't need to think about your song one way or another. Just focus on what you want to express with your art."

Seventh-grader Chris Coughlin wanted his song to convey "finding our school comfort zone with classes and friends."

His classmate Kendall DeSouza wanted major and minor chords to express "happy and sad parts of the song."

Once they laid down the music, Mr. Ezra worked on lyrics with the students. "There are no rules to writing words," he said.

Song topics varied. Tomas Alvarez from Mexico wrote about going away to school far from home, while another student, Dominic Casamassima, praised midnight snacks. One younger student wrote about liking a girl: "I love you like a guy loves cake."

Mr. Ezra says he hopes students who take his workshop will be "inspired and empowered to write and play music."

"Hopefully, the workshop will inspire our students to further try their hand at creative writing, a talent and skill that is always worth developing," said Harry Worrall, Hillside's dean of parents, as he deemed the songwriting project a success.

Mr. Ezra said he and his band began offering workshops in the area in the fall. "We have worked with students in Chicago who have a program where they camp out in the woods for a week," he said. "That is where I'm from and that program is a success, so we thought we'd bring it to this area."

Other schools the Adam Ezra Group has visited recently include the Atlantic Middle School in Quincy and Camp Safe Haven on Martha's Vineyard Martha's Vineyard.

"The students and faculty were so grateful to us for coming to the school in Quincy," he said. "And the camp in Martha's Vineyard is for children who are HIV-positive, so it's such a great way for us to give back."

For more information about the Adam Ezra Group, visit the band's Web site at www.adamezra.com.

Telegram & Gazette

updated: 7 years ago