As three Pinckney School students sang along with classmates in Thursday afternoon’s dress rehearsal, the lyrics were familiar to them.
Lyrics of three of the songs that fifth- and sixth-graders sang during the “Drumming for Peace” program belonged to Pinckney fifth-graders Sierra Smith, Emma Mason and Aubin Murphy.
The three students won a schoolwide poetry contest, and composer Daniel Musselman, a Kansas University doctoral student, wrote music to accompany the girls’ poems.
“It was a really unique idea, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said Sierra Smith, who wrote “Shouldn’t Everyone Love Music?”
Musselman and Pinckney music teacher Julie Alley worked with the students on the “Music Is … ” project.
“The issue I was trying to help them work on is one thought,” said Musselman, who will graduate with his doctorate in May. “Julie had the idea to do the theme of ‘music is … ,’ and they would finish that thought.”
Smith, Mason and Murphy each finished the thought with their own perspectives on music. Musselman then composed songs around their three poems.
“I like how the song has two people playing it, so it has some of the kids play, and then other kids playing on top of that,” said Mason, who wrote the “Music Can Be” lyrics. “I think it sounds really cool.”
Murphy said she had written stories before but never a poem. It took longer than she thought, but she got it done.
“I love having (my classmates) sing it because I think they really, really like it as much as I do,” she said.
During their school rehearsal Thursday afternoon and evening concert, the classes dedicated the performance of Murphy’s “Like a River” to Sue Crow, a paraeducator who died from cancer last week.
Musselman, who is looking for a job teaching music at a college or university, said the project was about teaching students a new application for writing skills.
“Aside from the performance, for me as a composer the most wonderful thing I can do is start the process of a music piece, writing it and just getting it going,” he said. “I wanted to help them see that other side of this creative endeavor.”