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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creating music in the classroom: The Great Unknown coming to MacFarland Middle School

Next week, DC SCORES students at MacFarland Middle School will venture into the music industry world.

For two days, they will work with a critically acclaimed band, The Great Unknown, on creating an original song. And then, to cap off the experience, they’ll head to a professional studio to record their music.

Months later, it will be on an album.

Just like that.

It’s a part of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Songwriter Residency @ America SCORES program.

Each year, ASCAP songwriters and composers -- ranging from up-and-coming musicians to Grammy Award-winning artists – visit schools at SCORES sites across the country. This fall, Philadelphia-based The Great Unknown is making its first stop in the District and also traveling to Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York and Boston.

Here in DC, the band will spend the first two days in MacFarland’s DC SCORES classroom working with the students to brainstorm a song and then put it together. On the third day, having created, critiqued and tweaked the song, band and students will make the trip to Bias Studios in Springfield, Va. to record it.

Once the band has finished its tour, an album will be created featuring the song from each city and MacFarland’s students will get to listen to what they created and get satisfaction out of such an achievement in a short period of time.

Members of the alternative-folk band, which has been together for four years and played in several states, are excited about the opportunity to work with the students.

“I want to focus around the fact that kids can see themselves as important people,” said Todd Henkin, who plays guitar and harmonica and sings for the band. “I want to start it with each kid
walking up to a video camera and saying, ‘This is my voice, and it’s important.’

“We want to show them that anyone can do this. Writing a song and recording it – that’s
something that everyone can do.”

To see The Great Unknown perform, check out its busy tour schedule.

The ASCAP Foundation, which is a public charity supporting music education, funds the program now in 10 SCORES cities.

On Monday, the songwriting tour begins at MacFarland.

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