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Favorite Job—EVER!

Helloooooo friends!! For those who don’t know me, my name is Mr. Nigel and I’ve been working with ETC since I moved to the DMV back in 2017. I can honestly, and very easily say that among all the other jobs I’ve had, my absolute favorite place to work, and the place with the absolute best people to work with, has been ETC!

My role at ETC is usually that of Music Director and/or Composer. That means I’m either teaching songs that already exist, or writing completely original songs with students, and then teaching it to them. My first show as Music Director was the Glebe Elementary School Residency in the 2017/2018 school year with Ms. Rachel and Ms. Franny. Believe it or not, I had never written a song before this residency—ever! I was very nervous and wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. But I learned as I went along, and I soon realized that I love writing songs just as much as I love singing them! Since Glebe, I’ve composed and/or music directed for ETC residencies at Tuckahoe, Cardinal (previously McKinley), Creative Drama and Musical Debut summer camps, and even helped students write original songs for their original movies in Camp Comedy! (Did I mention how cool this job is?!)

When I’m writing songs with students, or ever writing songs for myself, I always start with zooming out: what’s the broad picture? What’s the main idea we want to get across? And then we can dive into specifics and start thinking about what we want it to sound like. It’s almost like building a house: you need a foundation to begin before you go about adding things like windows, chimneys, or that potential third verse. That will usually help with clearing away all of those nervous, self-doubting thoughts that keep us from thinking we can write songs. From there, I usually don’t have to do much because ideas will start pouring out of students' heads faster than my hands can write them on the SmartBoard!

One of my favorite parts of working with ETC—and teaching in general—is watching creativity blossom in the students. Much like me when I first got started, most students assume that songwriting is super hard and that they won’t be able to do it. But when I teach them the tools and tricks that I use to write my own songs, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing that lightbulb turn on when a student has the perfect idea for a lyric, or, better yet, when a whole melody comes to their mind for our song! It’s awesome! Ms. Katie and I say it every year at the McKinley/Cardinal residency: there are always a few moments in the creation process where she and I have to take a minute to just laugh because a student has come up with a lyric or a line that is so perfect and so funny that we can’t help but laugh!

That’s why this is my favorite job—ever!


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