Songmaking with BK high schoolers Over the course of four weeks, I took the hour-and-a-half trek to the ends of the earth (almost to Coney Island) to work with this awesome group of students. This particular class was a theater elective class with a mixed 9th and 10th grade group. I created a curriculum around the Broadway show Once, that they saw half way through the residency.

I didn’t have a lot of time with them, so I wanted to work quickly to give them an assignment that would a). Validate their creative writing, b). Give them something tangible to walk away with and c). explore elements of musical theater writing.

So I gave them an assignment in three steps:

Step One: After reading the selected scene from Once, please create a two person scene addressing the theme of love.

  • Each character must have four lines
  • Scene must have A-B dialogue

Step Two: Using the following model, “Once I ____________, then I will ____________” please fill in four lines of the poem.

Step Three: Get with a partner and share your dialogue and poem. Combine the pieces of dialogue and poetry that you both enjoy to create a hybrid piece that has four lines of spoken dialogue and then four lines of poetry.

So they ended up with something like this:


 MOM: I’m sick of you thinking you know everything!

DAUGHTER: I know enough to know that I can’t wait to get out of here.

MOM: Well good, then you will see how tough it is out there.

DAUGHTER: I don’t care, I’m going to make it.


Once I graduate high school, then I will really be on my own.

Once Im on my own, then I will be in control of my own life.

Once I have the control, then life will be exactly how I want it.

Once I’m there, then I will really be happy.

After they had that, I was very lucky to bring in an amazing musician, Cassandra Kubinski, to come turn the student’s writing into a song in the style of the show Once.

She made magic in 45 minutes.

*Sorry for the crappy video quality. Blame it on my EVO.