Detroit Performs

S9 E13 | CLIP

Mariners Inn

Mariners Inn utilizes art as part of the therapies to help heal residents at the treatment center for substance abuse and homelessness.

Episode 913/Segment 1

AIRED: November 19, 2019 | 0:08:11
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TRANSCRIPT

(harp music)

- The words that come to mind when I hear the word harp

are beautiful, difficult, and underappreciated.

- It's something that becomes a passion

that you just don't want to release.

I began playing the harp in my ninth-grade year

at Cass Technical High School.

It's beautiful to look at.

I think it was probably more the aesthetic

of the instrument than anything else.

So, I said, I'll try this.

Cass has the oldest established harp program

in a public school, which began in 1925.

- We've been around for over 90 years

first starting with Velma Froude, Patricia Terry-Ross,

and now currently Ms. Lydia Cleaver.

- [Lydia] Wanting to come back was

the fulfillment of my desire to continue

to be a part of the program and to see it go on

after Patricia Terry-Ross retired.

And it was a great opportunity to be able

to work with older students and do more

sophisticated things musically

and just come home really.

- Harp ensemble is the class where everybody plays the harp.

And then harp and vocal is a combination

of harp and choir at the same time.

(choir singing)

- And one.

- Two and three.

I came into this class and I thought it was

really hard, like really, really hard,

because I've never been in a music class.

I didn't know how to read notes,

but it got better after a while.

- In Detroit, unfortunately we have suffered

significantly in the fine arts area

in our school system.

And so when students arrive in my classroom,

for the most part, they don't know anything about music.

So we start from the very beginning.

Stretch.

Stretch and slide down a little bit.

It's a practical skill.

They learn to solve problems in real time.

They learn to work collaboratively,

in addition to being able to apply principles of math,

they make connections to literature through song.

- They say that the harp is the hardest

instrument in the world.

So I feel like you can learn a lot of things

from the harp that you can use in life,

even if you're not gonna pursue music in college

or in the future.

- I think it prepares me for everyday life

in the way of not giving up on things

because it's really easy to give up on

an instrument like the harp 'cause it's hard.

It's teaching me to accept challenges

and use it as an exercise to better myself as a person.

- Look, 'cause that time, we didn't have any problem

with what chord to play.

When I see the students can learn how to

figure something out, that is super exciting for me

because they have learned patience,

how to break something down into parts

that you can then put together again

and create a whole and then actually give life to it

to create an emotional aspect of it,

and then share it with other people.

(choir singing) (harp music)

- I've never sang with a harp before harp and vocal,

which is very interesting.

Watching the harpists play as we sing,

it's another form of expression.

When we crescendo they crescendo and decrescendo.

It's very expressive and it's very essential

in conveying the message and sharing the music

with the audience.

(choir singing)

- I find music that is in our library typically,

that has worthiness, that they can dig some meaning out of.

♪ Going home ♪

♪ Going home ♪

- Today we're working on two songs,

one called Steal Away and then one called Going Home,

which they're both essentially about having peace

with yourself and being ready to go to heaven.

- It's a tribute to one of the many songs

that slaves used to sing.

- [Lydia] Three and four.

♪ Going home ♪

- [Lydia] Same freedom for everybody.

♪ Going home ♪

♪ I'm just going home ♪

- As a black singer, it's really important to know

the history of the songs.

It really helps to convey the message to the audience,

to have people relate to it.

- It means to me that we're doing something good,

we're giving people something that

maybe they didn't know they needed.

(harp music)

- I've heard Ms. Cleaver play the harp

and it's inspired me to keep going with what

I want to do because she's so passionate about it

and her passion has driven her to be great,

that it inspires me to be great in what I want to do.

(harp music)

- It's incredible.

I always, I play and then I'm like,

it's nothing compared to her.

She can play it right at that instinct

and it's beautiful.

(harp music)

- It's actually very angelic to hear the sound of the harp,

especially the way she plays it with such passion.

It only encourages us to sing the same way

with a lot of passion.

♪ I'm just going home ♪

- Much better, so now...

I'm extremely proud of my students.

I am extremely fortunate to work with young people

who get what it means to be responsible and to grow,

and they do it through music.

- After I leave high school,

I might go to college to play the harp

and I want to find a way to incorporate harp

into mainstream music because you don't really

see too many harpists in mainstream.

So I wanna figure out a way to maybe

make a new genre of music or something like that.

The experiences that I've had here at Cass Tech

have made me grateful for the things that I have,

especially with the harp program.

- We know that we'll have connections with people forever.

People that we know, if we need something

we can call them up in 20 years from now,

and we'll know that we'll have support.

- The great thing about it is that everyone

who's come through the program

has seen the benefits of it and the beauty of it.

They can see, wow this was really

an important part of my life.

And so we have that support and it is one of

the jewels of the district.

It's something that is unique,

and it belongs to Detroit Public Schools Community District.

(harp music)

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