Project Noteworthy is an educational project that launched in 2021, in the midst of the global pandemic. This unique project, funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, gave students in four elementary and middle school classes a creative outlet to process the anxiety and isolation they experienced amidst the upheaval caused by COVID-19. Working with a professional songwriter, they gave voice to both their fears and their resiliency, creating an original song that was then arranged for and performed by the Lima Symphony Orchestra and the student songwriters. Ultimately, close to 70 students participated in this amazing and inspirational project.
Final performances of the original songs will be available for viewing in summer of 2021!
Project Noteworthy originally stemmed from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts awarded to the orchestra in 2020. Our original proposal involved visiting area elementary schools that were selected based on socioeconomic factors. Throughout the school year, we intended to send musicians in to each school to perform mini-concerts with talk-back sessions for students who were identified to be at-risk. As students processed their responses to the music, we hoped to encourage them to explore how music can serve as a useful tool for self-expression, self-esteem, and self-discipline.
Once the pandemic began, we needed to re-think our idea – partly because it was now impossible to send musicians into schools (especially given that initially, many students were remote-learning from home), and also because we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a different crisis, one in which every student was impacted in one way or another due to the
trauma of quarantines, lockdowns, remote learning and subsequent feelings of isolation and depression.
This crisis and this project suddenly became a huge opportunity to offer students a platform to express their feelings through a very cathartic experience. To do this, the Lima Symphony teamed up with children’s book author and songwriter Mary Amato, who led four different elementary and middle school classes through the process of songwriting. Each participating class created an original song together. Ms. Amato guided the students in the creation of the theme, lyrics, structure, and revision of the song. Once each song was complete, it was arranged for orchestral ensemble by composer Jonathan Wey and was performed by Lima Symphony Orchestra musicians under the direction of Music Director Andrew Crust.
By turning the focus of Project Noteworthy to songwriting, students were able to use music as a tool for self-expression in a direct and immediate way. By going through the process, students were also given the tools to create their own songs in the future, and it is our hope that they will continue to effectively use music to process the world around them.