James Gordon’s ‘Rhyme Capsules’
One of Canada’s most prolific and respected songwriters, James Gordon has been doing his ‘Rhyme Capsules’ songwriting-in-the-schools program for over 20 years all across North America and more recently in Asia. Known as the founder of the legendary folk trio Tamarack, in his solo career James has released close to 40 albums of his distinctive original material that often deals with environmental, heritage and social justice issues. A resident songwriter for 12 years on CBC radio’s “Basic Black” and “Ontario Morning” programmes, he is also a playwright and a Guelph city councillor! His most famous songs “Frobisher Bay” and “Mining For Gold” , ( recorded by the Cowboy Junkies ) have been covered by hundreds of artists world-wide and have become Canadian classics.
“Rhyme Capsules” is a fun, interactive song-writing experience that works for any age group. With a class of up to thirty students, in less than 90 minutes a new song is born that is then performed and recorded with James’ help. Students write amazing songs about their communities, their school, their environment, and about important current issues. The sessions have often inspired students to continue with creative writing on their own, with rewarding results. James can do four classes a day. The most successful school visit covers a whole week. He comes up with at least 12 and usually 16 songs with the kids in the first four days. He then spends a morning polishing and rehearsing them. On the final day the students are not only songwriters, they are performers in an assembly for the whole community! The songs are recorded with state-of-the-art digital equipment, and the finished recording is offered for sale by the school to parents and friends.
“BUT I’VE GOT NO BUDGET” you say….
Wait… James has a plan!
In these tough times he has come up with a scheme that seems to work really well. His fee is 400 dollars per day. For a typical 5 day residency that’s 2000 dollars. To produce and manufacture a CD of the week’s songs requires a minimum order of 300 CDs at 7 dollars each. That’s another 2100 dollars , or a grand total of 4100 dollars. The finished CD’s can then be sold by the school for at least 14 dollars each, and there’s usually enough parents, uncles and aunts with singer/songwriter kids on the recording to sell at least that many. Sell them all and revenue for you is 4200 dollars.
This means you make a profit!
Some schools have sold more than this and used the surplus as a fund-raiser for other events. Schools often find that the collection of songs helps to strengthen their identity and community spirit. The tools learned are often used later by teachers to do their own songwriting with the kids, a medium that students find accessible, relevant and fun! These days James often brings a multi-generational aspect to the proceedings too…inviting seniors to come in to the classroom and tell their tales to the kids, providing great songwriting material and a great connection within the community.
James usually finds time to do four or five of these projects a year. He’d be happy to chat more about this with you, or send you more information and samples of other school projects. He can also do one day visits without the cd project part.