The Foundation for Small Voices' signature Songwriting Workshop, featuring composer Jim Papoulis and invited artists, began years ago. It was a natural extension of the ongoing concert series supported by Hyatt International Hotels and local children's choirs in cities around the world.
In each of these special workshops, Jim meets with choristers or students (ages 7-18) to teach the basics of song composition. The result is an exciting experience of creative collaboration among its young participants, promoting teamwork and respect of others. By the end of the sessions, children who often begin with little or no musical experience enjoy the fun and accomplishment of writing and performing their own original work.
We’ve always found young choristers eager to be asked about their thoughts for the future. After gentle and sensitive encouragement to express themselves, choristers frequently end up sharing the deepest thoughts and hopes of their hearts, which often become lyrics for the song they create together. The experience is exhilarating for them.
The workshop's multi-level curriculum is flexible to the needs of each community. In addition to the main areas of study (composition, vocal exercises, lyrics, rhythm, and instrumentation), the song that emerges is recorded and performed, live, by the children who created it.
Every time children recognize that they have a legitimate voice which deserves to be heard, The Foundation for Small Voices has achieved a major accomplishment. One of the workshop's main objectives is to encourage musical expression in those who are seldom heard. On some level, we’re proud to say, we succeed with every single song that is sung, created, or heard. As one young participant put it --
"I believe I speak for all of us when I say we sincerely appreciate what you have done for us. For younger children, you provided hope and the realization that they can make a difference. For others of us you helped by taking time from your busy schedules, coming here and showing us that real people can aspire to our dreams. You have inspired many lives by coming here. I know you've inspired mine." - Dominick, age 10
The Foundation for Small Voices' work in music -- bringing children and international artists together to collaborate -- is frequently cited as very significant by those with whom we connect … whether to compose, rehearse, record, or even just to listen with pleasure to the successful performance of a special song that kids have created for themselves. The magic of this connection can take place anywhere … a classroom, a community center, an outdoor arena … from a struggling small town to an affluent suburb or even an under-served inner city housing project.
Wherever we meet the children we work with -- in a songwriting workshop as they compose a new song, at a rehearsal as we help to prepare a choir for their performance, in a recording studio, on the basketball court during a break, or at a holiday gifting party – it is always an honor to interact with them, as well as those who love them, teach them, and want more for them and their lives.