Silent Voices: Lovestate is a choral concert, performed and partially devised by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, that explores a young generation’s vision of a more inclusive and compassionate future. With text inspired by the chorister’s own personal stories, the songs were written by a diverse ensemble of songwriters, including Pulitzer Prize winners David Lang and Caroline Shaw, Olga Bell, Nico Muhly, Angélica Negrón, Shara Nova, Paola Prestini, Toshi Reagon, Shaina Taub and Bora Yoon. In this Family Activity, write a poem, engage in deep listening and help create a “lovestate.”
The lyrics and poems in the show were developed in a unique way. Some were inspired by conversations with members of The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, some were written by them directly and some are taken from found text. In this activity, create your own poem!
Materials: Paper, pen, highlighter, source material (read below)
Step One: Find a piece of written source material that inspires you, that you have questions about or that interests you. It can be a book, an article, lyrics to a song, a poem—anything! Print or write out phrases or pages from your chosen source. Try to have as much written material as possible.
Step Two: With your highlighter, go through and pick words or phrases that stand out to you. At the end, your highlighted phrases will become your poem. Here is an example:
Step Three: Read your poem out loud. Add or delete words to shape the message that is emerging.
Write your final poem out on a separate piece of paper.
Step Four: Now, it’s time to turn your poem into lyrics. Can you put music to your words?
- Option One: Pick a song that you know and love, and see if the words that you chose fit into the melody. Can you sing your lyrics along to the song?
- Option Two: Write your own song! To find the rhythm within your poem, tap out a beat and start putting words to notes. When coming up with a melody, it’s helpful to speak your words out loud to hear the natural rhythm. Can you sing your lyrics along with your new melody?
- BONUS: If you play an instrument, try to play it along with your song!
On Your Way
The company of Silent Voices: Lovestate believes that when you are listening, you are not necessarily silent. By being an active listener to the world and stories around us, we are allowing space for others to be heard. In this activity, practice some deep listening in preparation for the show!
Step One: No matter how you are traveling to The New Victory Theater, spend five full minutes of your journey in silence. No headphones. No cell phone. No reading. Just be. As you journey, listen for things that you usually cannot hear. All of the folks you are traveling to the show with should do this at the same time. Ready? Go!
Remember, no phones or music.
Step Two: After the five minutes are over, have a conversation with your group about what the experience was like. Think:
- What did you hear that was familiar?
- What did you hear that surprised you?
- Did you overhear conversations? Playlists? Directions? Warnings?
- Did you hear something beautiful?
- Was it challenging to stay quiet for this long? Why or why not?
After the Show
Now that you have seen Silent Voices: Lovestate, have some conversations with your family to deepen your experience of the show.
- What was your favorite song they performed? Why?
- Is there a lyric or a melody that stuck out to you? Why did it resonate with you?
- How did the chorus use the stage? Did it remind you of other choruses, plays or concerts that you’ve seen?
- What surprised you about the choral singing today?
- What do you think a lovestate is?
- How do you feel when you sing? How do you feel when you sing with other people? Learn more about the power of singing in groups.
Silent Voices: Lovestate conveys messages about lifting up your community. In sharing and listening, we can create a lovestate, or a more loving way of being. In this activity, help us take a step towards creating a lovestate.
Materials: A phone or computer, your email account
Step One: Think of someone that you know who means a lot to you. It could be someone who
- You love
- Has helped you
- Inspires you
- Needs some support
Step Two: Write an email telling them about why they mean a lot to you. When writing, think of the following.
- Has this person performed an act of kindness that has impacted you in some way?
- Do you remember sharing a smile or a laugh with this person?
- Have you worked on a project with this person? Did their opinions give you new insight into a particular question?
- What do you love about this person? Can you tell this person that you love them?
- Is there a mantra that this person uses that you’ve adopted in your own life?
- Is there a community that this person might want to know more about?
- Can you make an honest pledge to support this person in some way?
- Is there a quote that you love that you can pass onto this person to lift them up?
Step Three: Embed a link to a song that could help grow a lovestate. You could also record your original song from the “At Home” activity and share it with them. Here is an example:
Today, I find myself thinking about you and what a light you are in my world.
You are a passionate, strong, connected and more powerful than you know. You have an ability to share love in a uniquely humble way and I look up to you for it.
When life is hard for you, as it is now, find moments to give yourself the same love that you give to others. You deserve that and so much more. I am always here for you, and I love loving you.
Sending along a song that reminds me of you. I encourage you to reach out to others you know to keep on spreading the love.
Step Four: Send your email and enjoy your lovestate.