Write, now sing, were the instructions, and that is what they did!
Twenty students from Hyde-Bath, Hyde-Woodstock, and Morse High School wrote songs and then performed them to a sold out crowd at the Chocolate Church on Saturday evening, February 27. The students did not go it alone but had some professional help from facilitators of the 12th annual Singer Songwriters Workshop.
Grammy award Winner Michael McDonald, his son Hyde alumnus Dylan McDonald ’07, Hyde alumnus Brian Thompson ’07, rock and soul singer Madison Welsley from Memphis, inspirational recording artist Lisa Redfern of Maine, singer Lauren Crosby, songwriter Emily Rose from Georgetown, and singer-songwriter Tim Mercer of Portland took the students through the many twists and turns of lyric writing and accompaniment.
Matt Newberg, head of the Music and Performing Arts Department, currently swamped getting the demos mixed and out on CD for the group, took a moment to talk about the most important part of the adventure. He said, “For me, it is both seeing Hyde alumni return to facilitate and watching how easily our students welcome both Hyde-Woodstock and Morse High School students.”
“This year’s show was perhaps the most accomplished so far; I can’t think of a single student performance that wasn’t right on the money,” said Newberg when he recalled the Saturday night performance at the venue in Bath. The crowd of about 140 people was appreciative, supportive, and enthusiastic. “Highlights were Hayden Connor, performing for the first time ever, and Maya Markowicz performing the first song she’s ever written.”
Connor Foye, one of a dozen participants from Hyde-Bath said, “One of the best parts of working with the Hyde alumni is seeing that people like me can go on to make a career in music. Everyone was such a big help; working with people like Michael McDonald is an opportunity that I never expected to have. It was really amazing to have people with that much experience give you their advice.”
Connor, who has written lyrics in the past and has received such accolades on YouTube as “only decent self-written song I’ve seen on YouTube. Well done mate, keep writing!” mentioned, “I’ve always written songs, but over the week I’ve been learning how to write songs that not only sound good, but songs that mean something. The skills I learned in the Songwriters Workshop I’ll be able to take forward with me. I am now empowered to write songs that I feel good about and will continue to improve my writing.”
The music program at Hyde School is unique. The program offers academic courses such as Introducing Music Theory and Songwriting, Theory and Performance, and Sound Engineering and Stage Production. The curriculum provides hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art recording studio on the Bath campus under the expert guidance of Matt Newberg, Director of the Music Department. Added to the mix is an annual Songwriters Workshop, a trip to Nashville to record, and summer songwriting workshops. Each of these components contributes to the broad scope of what Hyde offers to its students interested in music. The program also feeds their curiosity and confidence by teaching them to write, perform, and appreciate music.