Monday, January 16, 2012

how on earth...

... do I write a set of criteria by which I can select a small group of 10-12 year olds to write a musical with me? I need to be able to show parents that I've been FAIR in choosing some kids over others.

Here's what I'm after:

-Kids who want to do it
-Kids who are willing to work hard and commit to this project
-Kids with fresh ideas
-Kids who understand how metaphor works and who naturally think in metaphors
-Kids who know cliche for the smooth and silent killer that it is. (I'll explain, but not all will understand.)
-Kids who can analyse plots and characters and see connections both within a story and to wider themes in their own experience and that of others.
-Kids who can write - lyric writers and dialogue/narration writers needed.
-Kids who can write music. (Not all kids need to fit this one.)

So how do I phrase my selection criteria so that I get what I'm after?


Okay parents, how do you think I should go about this? It's tough because kids will miss out - including mine - but what I'm trying to do here is give an opportunity to kids who think outside of the box and whose needs aren't being met by regular classroom activities.

Anthony - ideas? You live so far away from the box that you don't even know what it looks like. How would 11 year old you have responded to something like this?


  1. A couple of ideas:
    - There needs to be some evidence provided of some of the desired qualities in the past.

    - Would it be helpful to get them to actually write some original stuff, as well as analyse something you've written as part of their application to get them display some of the desired qualities (think a QCS style short response unit).

    1. Past evidence of all would be unachievable, but of some would be appropriate I think.

      Yes, I'm moving towards thinking up a task. Will sort them out.

  2. Is this an extra curricular activity? Why can't you ask for volunteers, do a trial miniature run with them (write a song?), and select from there (leading on from Mel's idea)? I'm guessing that getting volunteers will cull quite a few.

    1. Yes, extra curricular. Doesn't mean that every parent wouldn't want their kid to do it. And many kids would want it too.

      Yes - leaning towards the task. Good idea.

  3. can my kid come? She meets all your criteria - except for the one about attending the correct school

    1. I'd love to have her. Which daughter?

    2. the oldest - 11 years - who wrote a composition on 'finale' for a thank you to her trumpet teacher and can imagine plots in poetry. It is possible with this age kid and good on you for trying.

    3. what a great gift! Hope she appreciated it!

  4. Spaceman Spiff reporting for duty...

    To be honest, 11-yr-old me was even more clueless and lacking in self-awareness, and just as musically inept as I am today. Plus I had a huge suspicion about the whole musical genre from being subjected to live Young Talent Time concerts, and watching my sister wear out VCR tapes of The Sound of Music and Oliver. Literally, wear out. Who knew?

    However, it seems I get a different question from the post's topic - I'm supposed to talk about how to interest kids? I'm sure that those who are musically gifted will self-select when the opportunity is presented, so I guess you're looking for the lyricists and script writers. I might have had a go at that end of things.

    So: it's a puzzle. Quite a large one. You need characters that fit together, a plot structure that starts in one place and finishes in another, and all of that makes sense because of the interplay between characters which simply has to go that way.

    The Philistine in me would need to see the placement of songs as a challenge too. Give me one good reason why someone should start singing there.

    After that it's the drudgery of details. Not my area of expertise. But I guess someone could be inspired...I was at school with Stuart Beattie, who said he wanted to write Hollywood scripts, so went and did it (see Pirates of the Caribbean, for example).

    Not sure if that's any help.

    I imagine that a call for volunteers on the back of 'this will be soooo much work' would solve most of your difficulties. Extra subscribers who don't fit can be pulled in to other tasks - set design? production assistants? assistant directors?!

    1. I think you are probably gifted in a different direction, Anthony. What would have worked for you?

    2. Sorry - got busy last week (first week back, standing start from several kms behind the starting blocks...).

      I'm now not quite sure what your follow up question means, in that what I said already I thought was pretty much the answer to it!

      To be really honest, 11 year old me was quite content with large-scale models of Archimedean solids, exhaustive genealogies of every god/demigod/character mentioned in ancient Greek literature, and other similarly important matters. Had you been teaching me music, leaving me alone would have been an ideal outcome from 11-yr-old's perspective ;-)

      But that being said, our school did musicals for years 5 and 6, and kids enjoyed being in them. I enjoyed not being. They didn't get the same kind of hands-on involvement you're offering, but some of them would have lapped it up. So good on you for your well-directed insanity!

  5. I was thinking about this a bit and wondering whether you were thinking about a group of individuals rather than a team. That is, a group of children who all or mostly meet these criteria wouldn't necessarily have all that good a time together. You might get a few peacemakers and encouragers or people who are fun to be with AND who fit those criteria, but you might not. So you could end up with a grumpy group who can't spark each other creatively after the first burst of energy has worn off. I wonder whether it might be useful to have an interview or something ? as well as the initial test?
    (Also, I know my eldest would spot that it was a test from a mile off and subsequently muff it. He has the kind of perfectionism that your average perfectionist would aspire to...)

  6. Hi Jennie. Yes. I'm certainly thinking group - in fact I've already put together a list of who I want... Different skills, personalities etc. that should work together well. The problem is justifying it.