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Garfield Fifth Grade Student Songwriters Share Their "Songs of Grit"

On Friday, February 8, 2019, Thomas Sigel, Ohio Regional Music Arts Cultural Outreach (ORMACO) executive director, with the support of a generous grant from The Stephenson Foundation, once again presented a unique music program to eight fifth grade students at Garfield Elementary School.

In its fourth year, the annual songwriting workshop, directed by Thomas Lempner, was a collaborative effort with Garfield music teacher, Nick Dominguez and school counselor, Julia Copley. Lempner serves on faculty at the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music and is also on staff at Cleveland State University and Notre Dame College. In addition, he is a music therapist working with the Prentiss Autism Center in Cleveland. He was selected by ORMACO to facilitate grant-funded therapeutic workshops with at-risk youth.

The students participating worked with Lempner, along with Copley and Dominguez, for approximately two and a half months creating their lyrics and melodies for their individual songs. They came up with the background tracks and produced original music providing them with an outlet to find their voice and express themselves as they performed their “Songs of Grit” in front of over 240 fellow classmates, staff and city and school officials during an all school assembly.

This year, the student’s songs were about dealing with life’s struggles and difficulties and how to show their “grit.” The program provides the students with a healthy and productive way to express their feelings, build their self-esteem, confidence and leadership.