Music videos are a unique way to tell a story and appeal to all generations, whether you grew up loving MTV or recently became “TikTok famous”. But how can we harness this interest for learning and youth development?
Through the Youth Enrichment Partnership, we were able to collaborate with Girls Inc of New Hampshire and the Manchester Community Music School to create a program where youth are empowered to creatively express themselves through music, message, and visuals. In this music video project, students are hands-on, from “action” to “that’s a wrap”.
This year’s project was especially noteworthy in that it took place within a music school rap class where students wrote their own lyrics for a song. We helped students narrow their ideas to create a message that they felt was important to share with a wide audience. Students decided to focus on the message of always being able to find help, even when you feel alone. This loneliness was something they all had experienced to some degree during the COVID-19 pandemic, where connections were limited to remote classrooms and socially distanced after-school activities. They recognized, however, that no matter how difficult things were, there were always people who wanted to help, whether that was their friends, siblings, or caring adults. The students in the program chose the topic of the song based on their experiences in finding community at Girls Inc. The lyrics were recorded by professionals at the Manchester Community Music school and arranged against a backing track chosen by the students.
Next, students worked together to create a storyboard to illustrate how they wanted the story of their song to be told in the music video. They then took turns in the roles of actor, director, and camera operator, to bring their vision to life. Students had to find creative solutions to problems and be flexible, as things on set often can surprise us. For example, the students wanted a scene set in the rain, but it never rained when we were scheduled to film (normally a great thing!) Instead, they decided to film on a sunny day with an umbrella, and we used editing tools to make the day seem more overcast for the same emotional effect. The umbrella was a symbol that clued the audience into the idea of rain: they didn’t need the actual rain at all. Students learned time management and the art of compromise. They also gained real-world technical skills in video production. The resulting video shows the journey of isolation to friendship and is an uplifting reminder that we are never alone.
Our first music video project in the 2019/2020 school year was created similarly, except that instead of a rap class, these students were a part of a choir program and got to choose, sing, and record the song that they would use for the music video. Students also added their own choreography and came together to create a video that inspires happiness and togetherness.
You can watch both videos below!