Saturday, March 16, 2002

Little songwriters to put out CD

Musician leads jam sessions

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Children's songwriter Rick Charette didn't have to wait long for students in Susan Ash's Lakota Early Childhood Center class to write the first two lines in their song about pirates.

[photo] Songwriter Rick Charette of Windham, Maine leads an improv session in Susan Ash's kindergarten class this week at Lakota Early Childhood Center.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Within 15 minutes, the morning class of 5- and 6-year-olds had read through a two-page list of ideas, settled on a melody and agreed to begin their song: "Oh ... a pirate's life is a life for me. We are the rulers of the seven seas.”

        For 45 minutes, the students collaborated with Mr. Charette and his partner musician Roy Clark on the pirate song, which they recorded at the end of class. In the song, the children incorporated a hungry parrot and finding a shiny, bright treasure, which was celebrated with a cup of root beer — the children's favorite part. They sprinkled in a few “Yo, ho, hos,” a “matey” and an “aaaaargh.”

        “Our goal is to keep it simple and keep it short,” said Mr. Charette, who is spending this week and next at the school. “We write the songs one line at a time. I try to make it theirs as much as possible.”

        Each morning and afternoon class will meet once with the Maine songwriter. The finished product will be a compact disc with 39 songs — one for each class.

        Kathy Cook said her 6-year-old son Alex came home from school excited the day his class wrote their song about hamsters.

        “He was totally excited that he could write a song,” said Mrs. Cook, of Liberty Township. “Just seeing his eyes light, seeing the pride in his eyes. You can't get that very much. This is an opportunity for the kids to see something being created — something they helped make. ”

        The best part was voting on what to sing about, said Greg McCollum.

        “I like the part when we said "Yo, ho, ho and a cup of root beer!'” Greg said.

        “I liked doing the "aaaaargh' because it was lots of fun,” said kindergartner Malik Mundy.


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