SongCreativity & Expression

In this video, Sage, an eighth grade student, talks about a song she wrote for a social studies project on the topic of “heroes.” She composed and performed her song about Victoria Soto, a teacher at Sandy Hook who lost her life protecting her students during the school shooting. She explains how a song allowed her to use her voice, both literally and metaphorically, in a way that an ordinary school report would not.

What is evident in this video is the way that a song can express what words alone simply cannot. What isn’t immediately evident is the path that Sage took that enabled her to be able to express her deeply-felt emotions in the form of a song.

She was able to engage profoundly and successfully with the assignment because she had benefited from an excellent sequential ongoing music program, and had participated in the advanced Choir program at her school. She had been given the skills and experience to refine and unleash her creative voice. Students like Sage literally wire their minds for music — creating neural pathways that would not be alive without deep ongoing study in an arts form.

Without the permission to take this creative leap as a teacher or student, this type of expression rarely happens in school. It takes a creative ecosystem for it to flourish — in this case, among other factors, a strong sequential music program, and a teacher with access to the pedagogical expertise of an Arts Integration Planner and the time to collaborate in planning the unit. Ironically, to cultivate an authentic, personal voice, it helps to have support from other people. The arts are an effective conduit for student voices — to give them the means to say what needs to be said, and express what needs to be expressed. They allow students to articulate their vision of the world, and to share that vision with others.

You can listen to the full version of Sage’s song here:

“The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.”— Elliot Eisner, Professor of Art and Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education

What unique expressions are Marin County students producing today? What will they produce in the future?

For more information, see:
Music education brain research collected by the Dana Foundation.