Friday, July 5, 2013


We all know what a song is... don’t we? 

Student Showcase of Original Songs at Long Beach Museum of Art
Student ages 5 - 19
Founder of MyTown Music; Corey Ferrugia
I mean we hear them practically everywhere and anywhere we go in public. We’re constantly filling our ears with all sorts of tunes tailored to whatever best suits our likeness in all facets of life; be it the drive home from work, exercising at the gym, surfing the web at your favorite local cafe, or when you’re enjoying a peaceful moment in the privacy of your own home. Maybe if you’re like me, you might feel like whenever you’re choosing your favorite album or compiling the perfect playlist to listen to, you are choosing music that sets the “scene” of your life as it passes by as if it were a movie. 

But what is it that makes a song, a song? We’ll get to that in just a bit.

My name is Corey Ferrugia and I'm the founder of MyTown Music. Not only am I an avid music lover, but I have the privilege and honor to have a career as a full time music artist as well. I am a/an:
  • professional session player
  • performer
  • commercial singer/songwriter
  • educator who educates and develops young artists ranging in age from early childhood to adult. 

In my early days as an aspiring musician, I fell into teaching both publically and privately to simply “make money” as I was figuring out what I “really wanted to do”. 

But as that journey continued, I had no idea what I was getting myself into... in the best way(s) imaginable. Specifically, in how the art of composing songs changed everything for me both personally and professionally. 

I remember it very vividly the moment when I came to the revelation where I shifted swiftly from the traditional paradigm from “teaching music lessons”, to empowering students to experience music artistry through the lens of creating their own original works/ songs. 

My students all still learned music language (theory), instrument and vocal technique... but over time, lessons and classes manifested into a catalog of works they had to show for with original work of their own. This is when I “retired” from teaching, at the age of 26. From then on, I have only been an artist; be it performing, composing, recording, or now... a learning artist

Context Method in Use: Experience First, Describe Second
Enjoy this short video to get glimpse of how this paradigm is being cultivated here in Southern California.  In our partnership with the F.A.M.E. Foundation, we are excited about replicating this in many cities.  A special thanks to Enrique Feldman for his support and participation at this event!

As much as it’s truly amazing and completely fulfilling to to see all of my students experience what I am sharing, I have come to discover...  there’s even more! 
Life Experiences captured in lyrics, melody and rhythm
The use of small bell sets to teach original songwriting to young students
Original Technique authored by Dr. Carroll Rinehart
As it relates to empowering human potential and growth specifically, the power of a song is capable of teaching us about many other domains of life. 

Self-Expression through the lens of songwriting
Allow me to take a stab at framing a bit more of what I mean with this simple table chart below. On the left column you’ll see my definitions of the key elements of a song. I am aware that there are other parts of a song that could easily and justifiably be included, but for the purposes of showing the parallel correlation to life skills, please accept my definition for now. I’d welcome your ideas too however! 

Key Element of a Song
Life Learning
Melody is the most unique property of a song. In all of the varieties within the pop context of music anyway, it’s a combination of lyrics (words) and a tune; primarily one that stands out and is more memorable above all other musical elements.

Individuality and Personality - in all of the valuable lessons and skills we could teach our younger generations, identity seems to be the most difficult truths to get young people to discover and find peace with.

By understanding the importance of a melody in a song, It is a perfect conceptual relationship to help a young individual realize the value of their own uniqueness.
Harmony is the blending of multiple notes into one cohesive sound in order to establish a base or foundation for the melody to be supported by.

Community or Oneness of Group - with mass marketing messages communicating strongly for individuals to focus on self-serving and islanding ideals, the reality is that we are better together and and most of life begs that we function in communities.

By connecting the powerful relationship amongst complementing sounds, instruments, and voices, it’s a clear and simple tool to help elevate awareness and sense of community.

Form is the structure of the song. Just like in any story, it has to begin and go somewhere, and have something in between. It’s the process or journey of how a certain “musical story” is told and how it frames what is being communicated.
Order - there’s order and structure in all of life. Be it in a school, work, family, or relational environment... there’s always a framework, for us to then freely explore and operate in. But with no order, a potentially unproductive, destructive, and harmful environment is created.

Through experiencing the success that comes from a craftful awareness and use form and how it functions in the songwriting process, that connection can be easily leveraged to show the value of structure, or order in all facets of life.

Genre - the unique style or specific kind presentation of the song. Think about how you organize and access all of the kinds of music on your favorite digital media player or device.

Culture - though culture is commonly thought of in the context of geographical, societal, and religious segmentations of people (though very important), it can also be understood in other domains like in businesses, churches, homes, schools and communities.

By listening to different kinds of music and being able to identify where its’ origins and relatedness together, it would make way for an easy introduction and powerful lens to teach an individual or group about any kind of culture.

One of my best friends and mentors, Dr. Carroll Rinehart, has always led and empowered me best, not with great answers, but with great questions. 

Dr. Carroll Rinehart, Founder of Opera in the Schools (Nationwide)
Co-Creator of the OMA Foundation
1st Generation John Dewey Student
Lowell Scholar
Enrique Feldman, Founder of the F.A.M.E. Foundation (left)
Dr. Carroll Rinehart (center)
Corey Ferrugia, Founder of MyTown Music (right)
At one of many breakfast brainstorm meetings 
Allow me to attempt to do the same... whether or not you are a musician or songwriter, I’d like to pose to you the following questions to see what might be your revelations and discoveries might be as it relates to how the power of a song can form your perspective.

What is this young student thinking about?  What is the process of creating doing for her?

What kind of learning is going on when playing a piano form a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic perspective?
  • How can a song be connected to other domains of learning in life?
  • What is happening in the process of writing a song from a neurological standpoint?
  • What are all of the social issues that could be solved through the power of a song?
  • What might be your question regarding the power of a song that could potentially evoke a change you might be seeking?

"When is the learner most fully engaged?  When to they eagerly anticipate that which is to come?"
Dr. Carroll Rinehart

Artist/Founder & Leader of MyTown Music

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