In a meet-and-greet video chat with a working songwriter this spring, middle school students were able to learn about careers in musical composing.
They met with Dr. Jacob Narverud, a songwriter originally from Kansas, whose songs include “Sisi Ni Moja” (a Swahili phrase that translates to “We are One”). Middle school students had practiced and planned to sing the song as a combined finale at the Shawnee Mission Middle School Choral Festival. Several performed it at their school’s quarterly choral concert.
“Many of the students had questions directly related to that song since it was a favorite and they had just performed it,” Westridge Middle School Choir Teacher Emilia Chiroy said.
Instead of the performance, students and teachers from four of the five Shawnee Mission middle schools joined in a video chat with Narverud to learn about composing.
Prior to the chat, teachers invited the students to submit questions. They asked him about how he gets ideas for songs, how he researches, and his favorite music. One student asked him how he writes music including languages he does not speak, one Narverud said he had never been asked.
During the chat, organized by Chiroy and middle school music educators, Narverud also talked about his background, education, and the composing process.
“My career path happened through working one-on-one with singers and choirs, which I love to do,” he said.