Week 3 (June 23) by Amy & Erica

Week 3: Lyrics and Melody

Artists, producers, and writers take years to successfully collaborate on a song, so our eight-week project at Humans in Harmony is no small task.

Our collaboration this week started with the Lemon Tree icebreaker. We each went around in a circle handing an imaginary lemon and identifying the absence of something we wished for in our lives at the moment. 

Humans in Harmony intern Gideon then gave a presentation on how to begin writing a song, two common methods being starting with a melody or starting with chords. He found some cool online resources and programs to help us create and edit our songs.

Next, Music Corps members Nyokabi and David showed samples of how they’ve written songs in the past. They’re both experienced songwriters, so we’re lucky to have them. David began with an introduction to music theory and Kabi helped us improvise a melody to some existing chordsdifferent methods, with pros and cons each.

We then broke out into groups to continue workshopping our songs. One group focused on building on the verses and choruses they had worked on last time.  Despite some shifts in group members and absence, they still picked off from the last theme of “my family, my inspiration”. Zulu P continued to their rounds of freestyling, but with recordings and beats on GarageBand.


Among the Music Corps members at the close of our session, a free form conversation took place where the students discussed how they planned to work in the next sessions with their group. 

Music Corps member Sam, who’s working with a gospel choir, said that “During our first session they were very encouraging for Sakari and I to share our singing with them, and likewise, they were excited to share their singing with us.”

Building on a previous conversation about how to go into community settings from a learning perspective rather than a helping perspective, Chadley explained that she had learned a lot from Zulu P members: “Working with and collaborating with Zulu P honestly makes my job so easy. They are very open to just trying things and our ideas out. Today, we kind of just facilitated what they already know how to do.”

Music Corps member Kabi, who’s also working with Zulu P, added, “Listening is a big part of collaboration and them letting out their thoughts – and ours too – has created a welcoming atmosphere of collaboration. Another thing is talking about artists that we all love, such as Kendrick Lamar! Sharing things in common shows that we understand each other, and when people feel understood, this is when collaboration and teamwork thrives.”

As interns and outsiders to these longstanding programs, many of us came in thinking that we would be there to facilitate collaboration. Our workshops show us that our community members teach us how to collaborate, too. We’re excited to be in a group of teachers and students, facilitators and participants, in our exciting and rapidly developing projects.