‘Voices of Hope’: Inspiring Others Through Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2021

Using poetry, beats, and creativity, a group of Silver Cluster students put their musical skills to the test to inspire and uplift others.

Music Teacher Abby Shuppy had students in Head Teacher Katie Kolenda, Assistant Teacher Lauren Weiss, and Physical Education Teacher Pat Fitzgerald’s class create their own songs of hope for a Carnegie Hall challenge.

The “Voices of Hope” challenge requires students to write their own music inspired by the times we’re living in now in whatever format best suits them in order to inspire hope.

Ms. Shuppy said, “I thought about one particular student in the Silver Cluster who has risen to the occasion of being in virtual learning and of this weird way of teaching music, and he’s been sending me pieces that he’s writing.”

Some of the inspiration behind sharing this activity also came from a lesson the class had recently completed where they read some of Amanda Gorman’s poetry and listened to a song that was created using her words set to music.

Ms. Shuppy forwarded the challenge to Ms. Kolenda to see if her students would be interested in participating, as their class was also completing a poetry unit, turning the project into a multidisciplinary activity that involved music, poetry, and creative writing.

“She took it to the next level,” Ms. Shuppy said. “They took this project and made it a full classroom project where kids were taking poetry and putting music to it.”

Students used different kinds of programs to make the music, such as Soundtrap and Chrome Music Lab, which Ms. Shuppy said the students have been exploring throughout the year.

“This was the perfect opportunity for them to combine what they were learning in their classroom with poetry, and the music elements that they were studying to make their own music,” she said.

Playing to their strengths, some students created beats, some students performed readings, and one student sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Ms. Shuppy said she was amazed at the way the students collaborated on their projects and were able to take the challenge and run with it.

She also said this activity was important because it gave students a sense of ownership and a way to express themselves during a time when we all need something to uplift us and inspire hope.

“So often the work in our music classroom was about, ‘We’re all in this together. I’m the teacher, and we’re working together,’” Ms. Shuppy said. “But this particular way of teaching this year puts a lot of ownership on the kids, because I’m not in the room with them. So to walk in and see what they’re doing from themselves — really the inspiration just coming from themselves — is so powerful, and I feel like that’s important for them to feel proud of themselves and inspire others. I’m inspired. I’m really truly amazed.”