Speak Your Music
In this set of learning experiences, students are asked to explore how featured artists Mazz Swift, Clay Ross, and Sarah Elizabeth Charles express themselves through their music. Their compositional processes, while unique, evolve in dialogue with each other. By learning firsthand about each artist’s values and inspiration, you will gain a better understanding of your own artistic process.
Break It Down
Introduction | Express Yourself
Mazz Swift, Clay Ross, and Sarah Elizabeth Charles share their backgrounds and processes for creating music.
Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson One: Finding a Theme
Mazz shares her distinct approach to using improvisation as a way of generating musical ideas to use in composition.
Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Two: Tweaking, Tinkering, and Messing with Your Music
Mazz shares her recommendations for manipulating and organizing basic musical ideas in order to explore different compositional approaches.
Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Three: Finished! For Now…
This video features the questions that Mazz uses to determine whether a piece of music is done or requires further editing.
Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson One: Building a Frame
Clay introduces his band Ranky Tanky and talks about the origins of their song “All For You.”
Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson Two: Making It Yours
Clay breaks down how he used source material from the Gullah tradition and West African music to create his original song.
Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson Three: A Life of Its Own
Clay explores how “All For You” evolved into new shapes as Ranky Tanky collaborated with other artists.
Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson One: My Big Idea
Sarah describes how she uses a big question to spark the idea for a new song that explores the relationship between all human beings.
Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson Two: My Musical Brainstorm
Sarah demonstrates how she creates a musical foundation for her new piece, and then shapes a melody on top of that foundation.
Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson Three: Growing My Idea
Sarah explains how her collaboration with a musical friend helped to shape the final version of her new piece.