Voices with Visions – JCR’s Hip Hop Club

Voices with Visions is the name of the new music club that started last year at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate.  Club members focus on song writing, beat making and performing. Ms. Murray is heavily involved with the club and plans field trips to volunteer opportunities around the community. Eye on the Storm interviewed Ms. Murray to discover more about Voices with Visions.

How did the Hip Hop club get started at J. Clarke Richardson? 

We wanted to do a mentorship program for students, specifically boys who weren’t that engaged in school or didn’t have something that they connected to. The idea of hip hop music came up.

Do you think that the goals for the club were achieved

The club turned out very successful. We had an idea but we didn’t have a plan, we just let it evolve and looked to the students for what they wanted to do. We had really good outcome and we had lots of people ask to join that we didn’t initially ask to come so I think that there really is a need for it and students are generally interested.

There isn’t a lot in school that we offer to music in that way. This makes Richardson unique because other schools don’t offer programs like this. We’ve been fortunate because other high schools and elementary have invited us in to share what doing here. We’ve talked to teachers about all the abilities that exist surrounding hip hop and embedding music into all subjects because that interests kids. I noticed kids always have head phones in all the time, so they love music but they don’t take music courses because the music in school doesn’t speak to everybody. Not every student wants to earn the saxophone or clarinet. This club allows those students to find something in which they do connect with.

How did Devonte become apart of the club?

Devonte is a mentor for students in the club. Someone gave me a contact for the School Song Writers Association.  They set up artists with schools to help them set up their own song writing program. They gave me his email and said maybe he would come and help you guys out. Luckily, after emailing him a few times he was eager to come out and come back. Since then we’ve probably talked two or three times a month now and he definitely will coming back this year. He’s been at a couple other schools in Durham promoting rap music and working with kids on writing about their emotions. He’s been a great asset to have.

How was the field trip to the professional recording studio?

Last year we went to Recording Arts Canada. We got to learn about the digital stuff behind music and all the engineering that goes into producing music. They showed us even where composers made music for movies, it was really cool. The field trip was free and students got time in the recording studio which everybody was excited about.

What will be going on in the Hip Hop course running next semester?

After going to the board we created a hip hop course that will be running next semester. The idea was that it would be great if people could get a credit for studying hip hop music. Guidance and Ms. Perkins worked really hard to promote it. It’s going to be a grade 11 interpolate disciplinary course combines grade 11 music course with black studies course. Kids will be able to write music and spoken word but we also learn about the history behind Hip Hop and where it came from, the oppression that created it from the black movement the late 80’s which is kind of cool!

What else do you think this club has to offer?

Other than having an artistic outlet the club offers volunteer hours and teaches leadership skills. The goal is to visit some elementary feeder schools, we’ve already gone to a couple already to work with kids on writing positive music. We’ve visited two schools so far and it went very well and we also went to the school board and presented at the students Raise Your Voice Student conference where four students talked about racism and the importance of writing music related to bettering the world and having the ability to make a change through writing. From that elementary schools have invited us and we have more coming up. That’s awesome because our students gain leadership experience and if it falls after school then they also get community hours. We are organizing for an after school program led by high school students for younger kids to come to, we’ve been connecting with the community in Ajax hopefully to make something that kids in grades five, sex, seven would want to come to. That is the long term goal.

What are the plans and aspirations for Voices With Visions starting up in 2017?

The goals for the year is asking the students that want to be apart of it what they want to do and if I can help make it happen I will. We certainly have enough good ideas and enough people listening in the education system to try new things.

We’re hoping to get more studio time. I think Mr. Woodward is looking into the possibility of building a studio here.  I’m excited for teachers to learn that there are alternative ways to teach curriculum and that it doesn’t have to be the same way it always was. I’ve also been talking to other teachers and promoting the idea of building a recording studio in Durham. That’s what I’m really excited for. There is a teacher at Durham Alternative Secondary School who’s interested in it as well, he’s looking at how he can integrate hip hop music and the idea of learning about recording for his students who are on an alternative curriculum whereas a regular traditional school doesn’t fit for them. That’s what I’m most excited for as well as for teachers to be creative and try new things, school doesn’t have to be the same way that it always was because it clearly doesn’t work for all of our students. I think its okay to use trial and error to take risks just like we want our students to do. We need to really connect with the students. Learning from kids and letting them direct you in what they want to do is just fun.

Voices with Visions is a welcome addition to J Clarke Richardson Collegiate. The club provides a safe creative space for students to construct music and get involved with their community. The Club will be meeting every Monday in room 3150.