Civic Innovation Competition 2020 Winner

Civic Innovation Competition Crowns Composed: Make Music Any Way! 

By Rebecca Agababian ‘21 and Haethyr Johnson ‘23, CCLA Student Leaders 

The Center for Civic Learning and Action (CCLA) held its first Civic Innovation Competition on Sunday, September 6, awarding the music education group Composed: Make Music Any Way! the winning title. 

The team, which is comprised of Max Jacobs ‘21, Hannah Youmans ‘22, Andrew Howe ‘22 and Professor of Music James Martinbased their idea on providing a creative outlet for K-12 students who are spending more time than ever in front of their computers.  

Our overall idea is to give the opportunity for music lessons and music education to young children when they are in the phase of their development for which music education is most useful,” said Howe. “We operate under the idea that music education is something you keep for the rest of your life.” 

Composed: Make Music Any Way! will offer individual and small group music lessons to elementary school students over Zoom, fostering creativity and teaching new skills in the process. “Art and music is a way to express yourself,” said Youmans. It is also a way to connect with others through emotions, and I think that’s what we need right now. 

When they planned the program’s structure, the group focused on their individual areas of strength. Jacobs is a violinist, Howe plays piano, and Youmans uses her voice. Together, it was clear they could offer a wide variety of opportunities 

“I had already been working on...ways that our outreach programs could actually benefit the schools during this crazy year, and the competition kind of spurred me to think outside of the box,” said Professor Martin, who recruited the three students to collaborate on the initiative. 

“The more I talked to parents, the more they said, ‘We need things for our children...They’re not moving. They’re not being creative. They’re not expressing themselves. They just do homework,’ and so I find that this is extremely important,” said Professor Martin.  

Although the program may be new to some students and faculty this fall, Composed: Make Music Any Way! has been marching to the beat of its own drum since 2013. Started by Rachael Smith ‘16, a former music composition major, the program was created to connect Dickinsonians with students at LeTort Elementary School for afterschool songwriting workshops. The program’s successors are excited to continue its legacy in both synchronous and asynchronous forms 

“We want to not only teach them about music but also give them a musical community where they can talk with other students their same age about their interest in music,” said Youmans, who explained that the lessons will be taught in real time for students, while performances will be pre-recorded so that they are not on the screen too much. 

“For the same amount of energy, you can reach a much larger audience,” added Professor Martin. “So, by taking it online, we can actually reach the whole of the Carlisle School District instead of just one or two classrooms.” 

 Composed: Make Music Any Way! is excited to commence the program the group has spent months planning. “We’re just really happy to be able to have this opportunity and to use the resources the best way we possibly can to make this a successful program,” said Professor Martin. 

Interview with Professor James Martin

In the first clip, Assistant Professor of Music James Martin describes what let to creating synchronous music classes. In the second clip, he details the positives of hosting classes online.

Interview with Andrew Howe '22

Andrew Howe '22 describes the main goal of Composed: Make Music Anyway!

Interview with Hannah Youmans '22

Hannah Youmans '22 discusses the importance of music and art during this time.