Music workshop with renowned composer

Fifth and sixth grade choruses collaborate with Jim Papoulis to create original song


At Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School, fifth and sixth grade choruses collaborated with renowned choral composer Jim Papoulis to create a new song during a workshop organized by The Foundation for Small Voices. The students shared their thoughts with Papoulis, who used their responses to craft the first verse of the song, which has yet to be titled.

At the start of the workshop, Papoulis posed questions to the attending students to ask what they think they should be creating. The students responded with their ideas, which led to the creation of the first verse of the song through their collaborative exchange with the composer.

“Thank you for welcoming me into your world and letting me get to know you,” Papoulis said. “Being here with you helps me become a better human and a better musician. I hope that you feel like you’ve learned something about yourselves and your musical abilities as well.”

Throughout the workshop, the students learned about vocal exercises, lyrics, rhythm, and instrumentation, gaining new knowledge of how to write a song and the skills needed to do so.

Superintendent of Schools, Kishore Kuncham praised the district’s commitment to providing students with diverse opportunities for growth and development.

“Freeport has always been supportive of the fine arts,” Kuncham said. “As the choral students learned the techniques used to create new music in the workshop with Mr. Papoulis, it is my goal to continuously provide our students with new and extraordinary opportunities to learn and grow their skills. By giving our students access to experts and a well-rounded education within our district, they are able to harness their passions and grow to be successful in all they do.”

At the conclusion of the day, the choristers were prompted to reflect on their learning during the workshop, including the various components necessary for creating a song.

“Words have meaning and when you combine the right words with music it activates almost all of your senses,” fifth grade choral member Evangileen Ali said. “By doing that, you help tell a story and the song you’ve written takes on a deeper meaning.”

With the guidance of their directors, Stephanie Arnell and Demolina Valonzo, the fifth and sixth grade choruses came together on stage to perform and record their very own piece of music, earning them the official title of songwriters. The debut performance of their new song is scheduled to take place at the Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School Festival of the Arts, which will be held at Freeport High School on May 8th at 7 p.m.