kitty Brazelton writingteacherbooks

Meet The Composer "Composer In The Schools" Residency
at the Earth School, working with Grades 3 - 6
New York City Public School System, District 1
February—June 1999

Works by 3-4 graders

Too Loud

Too Loud

Too Hot

Too Hot

play[click "play" to download 3.4MB .mp3 file of "Too Hot" performed by the Earth School Grade 3-4 Core Group, June 1999]

Above, the score of Too Loud demonstrates temporal diagramming. We divided imaginary units of time into 8 uniform beats which cycled constantly and silently like a "heartbeat". Time was represented by a horizontal line moving left to right which was then cross-hatched by the numbered beats as you see above.

Against the 8-beat grid, rhythms were chosen in a new color. The rhythms could use a beat or leave it out. As we progressed we began to be able to put some elements of our rhythms between beats. Defined in musicians' terms, the students individually and/or in groups composed 8-beat rhythmic ostinati. The speed of the uniform beats, or tempo, was decided by the students themselves as well as the number of repetitions of the ostinato before it was time for contrasting material.

Yin and Yangplay

[click "play" to download 3.1MB .mp3 file of "Yin and Yang " performed by the Earth School Grade 3-4 Freher on their self-created instruments, March 1999]

Yin and Yang was created during the first two months of the residency by Laura Freher's Grade 3-4 using the techniques described above. In addition Grade 3-4 Freher created their own instruments from household objects. Ms. Freher divided her students into 5 "tables" or groups of approximately 5 or 6 children.

What you hear is a classical rondo form (ABACADAE...etc.):

We created a "refrain" which the entire class sings together in canon. We were preparing this piece to perform on the occasion of the Spring Equinox holiday celebrated by the Earth School. Hence the text written by the students:

Day is just as long as night
is just as long as day
is just as long as night.

After each refrain, one of the "tables" plays their group-composed 8-beat ostinato using their individually designed instruments 4 times. After all the tables had played we closed with a double refrain.

Day is... |   TABLE 1  | Day is... |  TABLE 2  | Day is... |  TABLE 3  | Day is... |  TABLE 4  | Day is... |  TABLE 5  | Day is... | Day is... |


[click "play" to download 2.1MB .mp3 file of "Summer " performed by the Earth School Grade 3-4 Freher with guitarist Daniel Mackler, June 1999]

Summer was created in the final month of Brazelton's residency with Laura Freher's Grade 3-4 to perform at the Earth School's celebration of the Summer Solstice with guitarist Daniel Mackler.

The class wanted to write a song. So we talked about songwriting as a medium where the words are as important as the music. We talked about the importance of memorability in the melody and in the words.

First we invented a memorable melody for a refrain using the word "Summer" and diagrammed it:

Then individual students came up with verbal "solos"—on related topics such as good weather, swimming, "super-soaker" water-guns and the imminent summer vacation.

We made a an alternating structure:

| solo || solo || solo || solo |

followed by 4 refrains without solos:

followed by a bridge with three sets of lyrics and a melody diagrammed by us as:

(only the first set of lyrics shown here)

This song was learned and sung boisterously by the entire class by the end of the writing session. You can hear the concert performance if you download the .mp3.

The lesson Brazelton hoped to teach was that songs can and should be written by anyone and everyone. Songs are everyone's to make and can be about any topic. The most important task in songwriting is to create a clear memorable structure, both melodically and verbally.

Works by 5-6 graders



[click "play" to download 3MB .mp3 file of "Aqua" performed by the Planets (Earth School Grade 5-6 Core Group), June 1999]

Sketches for AQUA using words, instrument and temporal diagramming

Word sketch for Aqua Sketch for Aqua by Keith
Mark's sketch for Aqua


[click "play" to download 1.5MB .mp3 file of "Elements" performed by the Planets (Earth School Grade 5-6 Core Group), June 1999]

This score was created by The Planets (the Earth School Grade 5-6 Core Group) to be more of a large-scale temporal map or chart of events rather than a documentation of melody and rhythm. Each horizontal box represents a cycle of the blues-tinged ostinato created by 5th grader Claire Kazar. Each box vertically represents one group member's participation or non- , hence the pyramid shape.

Before Claire entered on a small battery-powered synthesizer and after she faded out, the structure was held in place by a chant or "singing" led by6th graders Keith Baker and Khalid Collins, using the words on the upper right hand corner. Khalid and Keith also established and grounded the rhythm with the larger drums. Joe Edelmann and Billy Rivera played antiphonal backbeat afuches facing each other from either side of the performance area while Paul Todd accompanied both of them on acoustic guitar. Mark Villanueva uses his voice and percussion improvising creatively while Timmy Cherney came in last and least because he had the loudest instrument, a saxophone. Kitty Brazelton supplemented Timmy on flute.

In live performance, the group sat around the score on the floor and used it to help themselves remember overall order of entrances, exits and changes.

All rights reserved for all scores, diagrams and sound samples on this page, © and (p) 1999, The Earth School.

If you are interested in obtaining the CD, "Music By and For the Earth School", please write to

c/o The Earth School
600 East 6th Street
New York, New York 10009

Kitty Brazelton's residency at The Earth School is made possible, in part, by a grant from Meet The Composer,
with support from The New York Times Company Foundation,The Chase Manhattan Foundation,
The Joe and Emily Lowe Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts.