“This one feels really good,” said Navid Najafi about the museum’s third Soundshop program, which took place last Tuesday in the Doris Duke Theatre. “We’re really happy that the kids are into it, everybody is excited. For us, it’s not about the result, it’s about the process, about sparking creativity.” Judging by the energy vibrating from  the nearly 40 students from Farrington High School at Soundshop, there was a lot of sparking going on.

Launched in November 2013 (read about the inaugural Soundshop), the music education program is now a quarterly affair, and gives students a chance to learn the basics of beat making and lyric writing with experienced local mentors guiding them through the process.

Along with Supergroupers Najafi, Scott Ohtoro, and Illisit Martin (who developed the curriculum), special guest instructors were Punahele and Mox.

The workshop is about as inclusive and encouraging as an education program can be—I’d never witnessed adolescents being so enthusiastic. As much as Najafi downplays the importance of the results, they were just as impressive as the process.

One group of aspiring composers (all of them engrossed in notepads as they jotted down lyric ideas) told me that not only had they been looking forward to the field trip, they hoped to use what they learned in Soundshop and apply it in the future. “We want to learn to write songs, be creative, and express ourselves,” echoed all members of the group.

Farrington High Students Dennis, Bobby, Daghes, and Shain

Farrington High Students Dennis, Bobby, Daghes, and Shain

All part of Farrington’s Creative Arts and Technology program, the students—who broke out into six performance groups—put their hearts and souls into what they were doing. From those who worked diligently to mix a beat that was just right, to those who offered their personal experiences—which were sensitive at times—to express themselves and enhance the lyrics. In the lyric-writing session, topics students covered such issues as depression, loneliness, sexual pressures, and racial identity, as well as lighter subjects about having fun, and positive messages encouraging others to be themselves.

Each Soundshop ends with a performance in the Doris Duke Theatre. As each group took the stage, everybody cheered. When the performers stumbled, they cheered harder. And when it was all said and done, the students carried themselves differently, with more confidence and positive energy than when they had walked in.

Note to educators: Interested in having your class participate in Soundshop? The next one will be held in spring 2015. For more information or to register, contact theater manager Taylour Chang at gro.muesumululonohnull@gnahct