Making music: UWSP and elementary students start composing early
More than 30 students from Portage County became music composers in January by participating in the sixth year of the Very Young Composers (VYC) of Central Wisconsin project.
Five are moving forward with expanding their pieces and will hold recitals in May. Fifth-graders Maiah Hamre, Damian Kessler, Tate Buckhart and Krishiv Sreejith and fourth-grader Isabella Lathrop are moving forward with their pieces.
For the students, it is a time to grow in their art and try new talents.
Grace Newby, a Washington School fifth-grader, is participating in the program for the second year.
“I like the idea of composing my own music and being creative,” she said. Her composition last year was titled “A Walk in the Woods” and was written for trumpet, cello, piano and flute.
This year’s composition is “La Bella Bella.” Newby said the title means Beautiful Bella in Italian and was inspired by “my dog, Bella, who I got for a Christmas gift last year. I want the music to describe what she is like.”
She also noted that “there’s a limit to the number of students admitted to the program each year so if you get in, work really hard.”
The project is a collaborative effort involving the Stevens Point Area Public School District, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) and several state and local funders. It is open to children in fourth and fifth grades.
The program is structured to provide one-on-one and small group support for the budding composers. That support is provided by Teaching Artists – 14 volunteer undergraduate music majors from UWSP. The students began meeting early in January and the first classes introduced the students to seven instruments: trumpet, flute, euphonium, percussion, French horn, violin and viola.
After learning about instruments and sounds, the students continued to meet with their Teaching Artist to work on their compositions in music labs at UWSP. In the computer music lab, the teaching artists helped the students turn their ideas into real music notes.
Another Washington School fifth-grader, Carson Kaminski, said he joined the program because “I wanted to make music. I play a little bit of piano, a good amount of guitar and a lot of recorder. My friends did the program last year, and I saw the video and wanted to be part of it.”
His composition is titled “The War of the Gods,” and he is writing it for six instruments.
At the conclusion of the class, the student compositions were performed by the teaching artists in a public performance with each young composer introducing his/her music.
The project director is Robert Rosen, professor emeritus of music at UWSP. Stevens Point Area Public School District elementary school music teachers Sandy Weyers, Schulyer Gardner and Alli Gostomski shared their expertise, led group exercises and served as additional teaching artists.
“I’ve been involved for five years (and) I continue to be inspired by what the students create in a short period of time,” Gardner said. “They have no inhibitions as they are creating compositions and so they feel free to express themselves.”
Weyers has worked with the program all six years and noted that “the teaching artists really make the program work. They are very patient and eager to work with the students.”
Students involved in the program this year are:
Almond-Bancroft Elementary: Ryan Warzynski, fourth grade.
Bannach Elementary: Berit Borgnes and Alexander Phillippi, fifth grade; Edison Dokken, fourth grade.
Homeschooled: Maiah Hamre and Clarabella Jaeger, fifth grade; Isabella Lathrop, fourth grade.
Jefferson Elementary: Gavin Ahlborn, Amara Porter and Austin Aguillera, fifth grade; Isiabella Klepps, fourth grade.
Madison Elementary: Tate Bruckhart, Taslima Keefe, Logan Yetter, Maia Zalewski, and Brylea Eschenbauch, fifth grade; Brea Bierman, Rhiannon Gagas, Lily Herman-Schultz and Reese Ryan, fourth grade.
McDill Elementary: Rose Coleman and Krishiv Sreejith, fifth grade.
McKinley Elementary: Justin Paque and Damian Kessler, fifth grade; Zayden Arttus, Vivian Kochanowski and Samantha Kostuch, fourth grade.
Roosevelt Elementary: Logan Sabel, fifth grade;
Rosholt Elementary: Seth Delikowski, fourth grade;
St. Paul Lutheran Elementary: Isaiah Gray, fifth grade;
St. Stephen Elementary: Kylie Crow, fourth grade;
Tri-County Elementary: Taylor Millard, fifth grade;
Washington Elementary: Carson Kaminski and Grace Newby, fifth grade.
UWSP teaching artists include Alyson Evans, Amanda Fischer, John Leja, Terra Jansma, Natalie Kluck, Lydia Martin, Greg Miller, Brenna Ohrmundt, Casey Parker, Sam Puffer, Jennifer Schraufnagel, Brianna Trainor, Tess Tranel and Peter Zillmer.
For more information on the program, contact Rosen at [email protected] or visit the project Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Very-Young-Composers-of-Central-Wisconsin-1455966241308531/?fref=nf.