LiveConnections Education outreach

Coal mining spoken word and lyrics writing at Science Leadership Academy

Written by Admin

Published on Thursday, 17 April 2014 02:15

“We have the responsibility to know history, so we can have more rights than people had before us.”
-6th grader, Science Leadership Academy

A 30-pound hunk of coal. Blues, hip-hop, spoken word, rhythmic soundscapes. Student words and compositions.

LiveConnections has been an “Anthracite Fields” partner, connecting the creation of the Mendelssohn Club’s world premiere on April 26 and 27 to the curriculum at Philadelphia high school Science Leadership Academy.

Throughout the school year, composer/guitarist Andrew Lipke and LiveConnections co-founder David Bradley collaborated with history and music classes to explore stories of coal mining and the National History Day theme of “Rights and Responsibilities.”

The history classes wrote poems, song lyrics and raps—sometimes taking on mining from the perspective of a miner, a pickaxe or a hunk of coal; sometimes exploring themes such as protest, immigration, power and struggle. The music classes then created songs from the writing, culminating in arranging and recording three student-generated compositions.

Our part of the project concluds on April 23 with one of our signature Bridge Sessions, an interactive concert exploring connections among different musical genres. “Mining the Song” features Lipke and a quartet from the Mendelssohn Club, with repertoire including coal ballads performed in different styles, snippets from “Anthracite Fields” and the student compositions.

Special thanks to SLA teachers Pearl Jonas (history) and Ben Diamond (music) for their participation in this project.

Student Writing

Dusty hammers swing
Putrid fumes invade our lungs
Grow old and die young

Chipping anthracite
Another day in the mines
It has to be done

Small hands picking rocks
There’s no rest for the weary
Blackened hands and blood
—Edgar Pacio

The rumbling of the cart carrying dead bodies left an echo in the cavern that couldn’t be ignored. 11 today, who knows how many tomorrow. This isn’t directly his fault, but it might as well be. If he doesn’t take the initiative to care for his workers he’s really just throwing away his money. It’s so good though, the money I mean. That’s why this business has such a cult like following. Even though there’s a chance of death, who could overlook that 40 cents an hour. Not even I could, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be an advocate for the cause. I can be the voice that leads us to a brighter future.
—Jaime Christmas

residency at Science Leadership Academy

residency at Science Leadership Academy

residency at Science Leadership Academy

residency at Science Leadership Academy

residency at Science Leadership Academy

About LiveConnections

Founded in 2008, LiveConnections creates innovative, boundary-crossing music programming and education out of partner venue World Cafe Live. LiveConnections’ programs bring together musicians from different genres to highlight how music crosses cultures and to reimagine the landscape of live music. Working with students is an integral part of LiveConnections’ mission.

[Images by Conrad Erb Photography]

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