To celebrate the first anniversary of the Kalabash School of Music and the Arts’ opening in Bird Rock, the music-makers will present a day of live performances, family art projects and the launch of its record label for teens, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 at 5725 La Jolla Blvd.
Kalabash co-founder Natasha Kozaily said the performers will include teachers, students and the Songbird Circle, a group of teenagers who write, perform and record their own compositions. The Songbird Circle, like the school itself, has evolved over the last year, so launching the Songbird Label at the first anniversary seemed a perfect fit.
“As a songwriter, I encourage my students to improvise music and compose their own music. Some of my students compose instrumentals and others are interested in writing lyrics and singing. … I had a group of teenagers that were so talented, so we started a free club called the Songbird Circle. (The club still meets 6 p.m. the first Friday of every month.) We get together, we eat pizza and write songs,” she said.
Participant Wesley Preis said her time in the Circle has been “an absolute dream” and she looks forward to more experiences. “I don't think I ever would've written a full song or learned to express myself musically if it weren't for everybody involved here that taught me and showed me how. Songbird Circle Club has undoubtedly empowered me, inspired me and helped me make some awesome friends,” she said.
Sister Shyah Preis added her participation in the group has “influenced the way I write and construct music in a very genuine way. I find that now I open myself up more easily when I create art than I did prior to when I began sharing my ideas and original pieces with others, who possessed my dear and immense passion for the craft of songwriting.”
Jack Rickard, who uses the stage name/recording name Jack Taylor, said his favorite part about the songwriting sessions are “how free flowing they are. Not only do we get to develop our own ideas, but also bounce off each other’s. It's a wonderful opportunity to play around with our own creativity.”
From the Songbird Circle Club, Kalabash started a songwriting-recording workshop throughout the year, and a summer camp.
With recording equipment already in the studio, those who participate in the Songbird Workshops and summer camp have the opportunity to record their works for digital download. On the kalabasharts.com website, there is a “Songbirds” tab that leads to more information and a Soundcloud page with some digital versions of releases that have already been recorded.
“They are learning a lot of tools that will help them, because today you could make a record in your bedroom if you know how to use your computer and set up a microphone. They are learning great skills I wish I had been taught, to be honest,” Kozaily explained. “The students take turns editing, playing music, singing, recording, etc. So they are learning how the whole process works.”
With the launch of the record label, the Songbird Label Workshop also concludes with participants recording their creations. At the end of this year, the students will produce a physical CD of their work. The Songbird Label workshop starts Sept. 26, and continues 6 p.m. Mondays. The 12-week course for students, ages 12-17, costs $300. Registration is open at kalabasharts.com
Year in Review
When Kalabash opened one year ago, the objective was to teach private music lessons and group art classes, and host workshops and special events throughout the year, with a “community-minded” vision. “We didn’t want this to be a place where people came, took a lesson and left. This was to be a place where people could learn from each other and where the teachers could share cultures and build a love of music and an appreciation of arts in the community,” Kozaily said.
She added the space was previously a music school, but when the previous owners were ready to close up shop, they asked if she wanted to take over. “I was a piano teacher here when it was the Prodigy School of the Arts,” she said. “It was a huge change in my life, but I loved the school and my students. Plus this is something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a teenager.”
Kozaily grew up in the Cayman Islands and started playing music when she was 6 or 7 and said it has always been important in her life. “When I went to university, I studied in Wales (United Kingdom) and started writing my own songs and music. That for me was the most educational experience in music making – I studied classical piano and that was cool and I loved that, but it wasn’t until I started making my own music that I started to feel empowered and really creative,” she said.
One day while in college, she came across the music of her would-be business partner Chad Farran. “I reached out to him on myspace.com, believe it or not. We started talking and I wanted to make a record, but didn’t know how, and he had a studio where he produced music. He thought I was in Cardiff by-the-Sea, but I was in Cardiff, Wales, so he said, ‘you should come check it out this weekend’. I couldn’t just hop down, but I was excited about the possibility of collaborating with him. So after I graduated, I came out for a visit and met with him and made my first record with him.” The twosome have made more records since, and partnered to run Kalabash. “The Songbird Label is our latest collaboration,” Kozaily said.
— Kalabash Arts is at 5725 La Jolla Blvd. (858) 456-2753. firstname.lastname@example.org or kalabasharts.com