Roll Hill Students, Parents Jam with Melodic Connections

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Roll Hill School and a local music therapy nonprofit have teamed up to help students, parents and staff unwind while learning something new together.

One afternoon a month, Melodic Connections — which provides music therapy and opportunities for people of all abilities and backgrounds to play music together — brings guitars, electric keyboards, drums and amps into Roll Hill’s music room for a jam session.

“Playing music together can say a lot about how people communicate, collaborate and build relationships,” said Kyle Reiser, resource coordinator at Roll Hill. “We thought that bringing Melodic Connections in to lead jam sessions would be a great outlet for our parents, students and staff to do something creative together to build stronger relationships within our school community.”

Anna Caldwell, music teacher, helps a roll Hill student get comfortable on the electric keyboard.

Melodic Connections tunes acoustic instruments to “open tuning” and provides sheet music organized by color so that participants can participate with ease.

“We’re not going to focus on the technical stuff today,” Betsy Nuseibeh, executive director at Melodic Connections told students and parents as instruments were set up. “We’re just going to focus on playing together and enjoying the music we make.”

Volunteers from Melodic Connections set up the equipment, ensured that everyone had a music stand with a binder of sheet music, and encouraged the group to select what instrument they’d like to play. With that, the handful of students, parents and staff—including music teacher Anna Caldwell—picked up their chosen instruments and started playing music with guidance from Melodic Connections volunteers.

Roll Hill’s jam sessions are an opportunity for parents and students to try something creative together.

After a few songs, the Melodic Connections asked how people felt, especially those who tried an instrument they had not played before.

“I was overwhelmed when I came in here, but now I feel relaxed” one parent shared.

A student expressed that he was surprised with how easy it was to keep up with everyone.

The group continued to play songs, switch instruments and even improvise some music for the rest of the afternoon. One student, who wanted to sing, started sharing lyrics, which prompted a fellow student to respond with a different take on the melody.

“We love it when our musicians start to do that,” said Nuseibeh. “Playing music is a unique catalyst in that way.” 

Keep up with the great things happening at Roll Hill, a Vision 2020: Technology-Based Learning school, at rollhill.cps-k12.org. Learn more about Melodic Connections at melodicconnections.org.

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