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Spotlight: Summer Programs in NYC

After a busy and fruitful school year, Arts Horizons plunged straight into our summer arts education programs in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island. 10 AH teaching artists conducted five to six week-long residencies at various sites administered by the following community-based organizations:  Moshulu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC), Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC), and United Activities Unlimited (UAU). We are pleased to recognize our longstanding partnerships with MMCC and UAU, and we are eager to continue deepening our new partnership with CPNYC. All three organizations have been doing exceptional work to provide spaces that foster educational, recreational, counseling, and/or social programs for children and young adults in New York City’s outer boroughs. After school and summer programming offered by these organizations are part of the Beacon and SONYC (School’s Out NYC) initiatives by the Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) in collaboration with the Administration for Child Services (ACS) and the Department of Homeless Services.

At 7 MMCC Cornerstone sites, our teaching artists provided an eclectic offering of engaging programming to elementary and middle school children ranging from Afro-Caribbean Dance with Silvana Marquina to Percussion with Larry Washington, Jewelry-Making with Ken Fury, Jazz Vocal with Pamela Hamilton, and Visual Arts with Natalie Alleyne, Yako Prodis, and Mansa Mussa. AH teaching artist Ibrahima Camara had a very busy summer as he conducted African dance and drumming residencies for all three organizations!

AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to visit two music residencies this summer – Grace Galu’s songwriting program for MMCC at Fort Independence Community Center in Bronx and D. Cross’s beatboxing program for CPNYC in Brooklyn. Let’s take a quick peek into their classes!

Student songwriters riffing on their favorite food & activities with Grace Galu

Noted soul vocalist and vocal coach Grace Galu is a new teaching artist for Arts Horizons. Students in her songwriting classes learned all about using figurative language, counting syllables, and crafting narratives. She opened up her classes with a fun icebreaker, “Jump In, Jump Out,” in which students introduce and identify themselves to the class as a “singer/dancer/gamer/etc. for the rest of their lives!” Once they were energized, Grace asked them to name their favorite food or activity – the first class eventually chose ice cream and the second class chose dance. Together, students created short, poetic phrases with adjectives to describe how ice cream and dance made them feel, and these lines were compiled into a short stanza and chorus. Grace then brought out her guitar and sung her students’ songs acapella!

Kiran’s second stop was at CPNYC in Brooklyn to attend a beatboxing class by longtime AH teaching artist and multidisciplinary artist D. Cross. CPNYC specializes in enrichment programing for children of incarcerated parents to “empower them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system.” The focus of D. Cross’s residency was to introduce students to the basic elements of vocal percussion and music production through the creation of beats for songs. D. Cross assembled the students in a Hip-Hop cypher to facilitate improvisation and conversation through music. Students took turns beatboxing, improvising lyrics, or adding other sounds, and D. Cross layered their vocals into a cohesive beat with the help of a splicer machine!

Students freestyling in a cypher with D. Cross over their own beats

Arts Horizons was thrilled to see such active participation in the arts at MMCC, UAU, and CPNYC, and we are grateful to hear that our teaching artists’ efforts were well appreciated by students, faculty, and administrators. We would also like to thank Ms. Kim Viade, Ms. Monique Newton, and Ms. Gizzelle Lopez along with all of the site directors and staff for welcoming us into their programs. We are excited to continue our collaborative work with these amazing organizations for the next academic year.


AH’s Summer Arts Programs in Music & Visual Arts

For more information, please contactDena Malarek – Director, NYC Residencies & Special Populations (212-268-7219*108; dena@artshorizons.org) or Kiran Rajagopalan – Program Coordinator, NYC Residencies & Special Populations (212-268-7219*113; kiran@artshorizons.org)

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Spotlight: DYCD’s “Beyond the Voice” with Arts Horizons

Arts Horizons is pleased to highlight and recognize our partnership with the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) for an amazing songwriting initiative for talented student musicians called “Beyond the Voice.” AH Teaching Artists Baba Israel, Pamela Hamilton, Yako Prodis, Dawn Crandell, and Teaching Artist Grace Galu conducted masterclasses and professional development workshops for students participating in DYCD’s “Beyond the Voice.” According to DYCD’s Facebook page, “Beyond the Voice” is a “competition [to] challenge youth to create a beat and sing a song dedicated to their community…and the program uses components of literacy and presentation skill building.”

A student improvising various genres of music with Baba and Yako

During the last week of March and the first week of April, Pamela, Baba, and Yako conducted 1.5-hour mentoring sessions with each of the 10 participating student musicians/groups at various Beacon, Cornerstone, and SONYC afterschool sites in Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. These sessions were dedicated to providing students with constructive feedback, critique, and guidance as they continued to work on their original songs. The participating sites in this program were: Quest Youth Organization (Bedford-Stuyvesant), Moshulu Montefiore Community Center – Evander Campus (Gun Hill), The Child Center of New York (Flushing), Long Island University – Advantage Higher Education (Downtown Brooklyn), Southern Queens Park Association (Jamaica), Greater Ridgewood Youth Council at York Early College Academy (Jamaica), Harlem Children Zone (Central Harlem), Johnson Community Center (East Harlem) and Phipps Community Development Corporation – Beacon @ IS 192 (West Farms).

After these one-on-one artist mentoring sessions, students and faculty gathered at Countee Cullen Community Center, a program of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc. housed in PS 194M in Manhattan, on Monday, April 10, 2017 from 11:00AM to 4:00PM for a collective “mentoring day” with all of the teaching artists. “Beyond the Voice” will culminate with a student showcase scheduled for Saturday, May 20, 2017 at JCC Manhattan. AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to attend this “mentoring day” and he witnessed these students’ brilliant musicianship and their eagerness to learn more about taking their art to the next level.

Baba, a noted Hip-Hop MC, began the day with a lecture-demonstration on freestyle and improvisation with the assistance of Yako, a talented music producer and multi-instrumentalist, and several students on guitar. Performance artist and dancer Dawn Crandell then conducted a movement workshop in which students were taught exercises improve their stage presence. Students were first asked to state their name and to come up with a single movement which best expresses their “current state of being.” This was followed by exercises on nervous mannerisms and “what not to do on stage” that were particularly engaging and illuminating.

In the third session, students presented rough cuts of their songs for feedback and critique from the teaching artists. Baba also facilitated a discussion with each student about the creative process involved in crafting his or her song. Following lunch, soul vocalist and vocal coach Grace Galu led students through a series of vocal warm-ups that can be done quickly before rehearsal or performance. She also stressed the importance listening through exercises with harmony and a round-robin rendition of an African chant.

The reminder of the afternoon was dedicated to the teaching artists engaged in one-on-one sessions with the students in groups. Dawn worked with two students on incorporating movement into their duet performances while Pamela, a prolific jazz vocalist and violinist, worked with another student on crafting a hook for her song. Yako worked with instrumentalists on stage to tighten up several songs that had played for earlier, and Grace worked with soloists on vocal projection. Baba, as the primary organizer and facilitator, oversaw all of the groups and began setup for the final professional development session.

The mentoring day ended with Baba leading a workshop on lyric writing with figurative language, beatmaking, and music production with the assistance of Yako. This was followed by an essential, but brief professional development lecture on copywriting, royalties, promotion, and liabilities by Baba. Although scheduled to end at 4:00 PM, the session lasted until 4:20 PM with students fully engaged!

Baba & Yako freestyling for students in the opening session

Pamela working one-on-one with a student on crafting a hook

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