Pat Ham recording own songsPublished 2:49pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013
In 2012, Mr. Billy made kids music history by recording and releasing 12 compact discs in 12 months.
This week, he turned Patrick Hamilton Elementary School into a recording studio leading up to Thursday night’s 6:30 concert at Dowagiac Middle School.
Students from kindergarten (“Dominic and Domino,” about a boy, a dog brown like a log and a cat, Calico) to fifth-graders’ catchy tune about vegetarian zombies have been learning to compose their own songs and write lyrics.
Students will sing their songs, Billy Grisack will record them and CDs of their music will be available for $10, delivered in four to six weeks.
Students will also be performing their songs as part of the annual parent fair taking place at the Performing Arts Center.
Billy, with an electric guitar strapped on over his Kiss T-shirt, performs his iTunes hit, “Angry Birds.”
His web site, www.misterbilly.com, features “short, silly songs of the day,” which he writes in the car while traveling.
“It used to take me a whole day to set up,” Grisack said. “Now it’s all high-tech. I’ve been doing residencies for 12 years, and I used to have to bring in two tables full of equipment. Now I’ve got an iPad, a Mac and an iPhone. This is the ‘studio’ I did all 12 CDs on. It’s crazy.”
Originally from New Jersey, Grisack has lived in Green Bay, Wis., since 1999.
“I’m not actually teaching music,” he said. “This is a language arts program” with six-step writing (choose a topic, gather ideas, organize, write using your notes, review and revise content, clarify and add details.
“The three most important words when it comes to generating ideas are details, details, details,” students repeat after him.
“My wife’s an English teacher,” he said, “but my background is music and marketing. I’ve been doing music for 35 years, mostly in rock and roll bands. I had a record deal in the ’80s. Now I do kids music because when my son was 5 he took me to kindergarten for show and tell. Usually, my children travel with me. My son’s 17 and plays drums and is a solo artist with his own CDs. My daughter’s 13 and plays drums, so they take turns playing with me on tour.”
He’s released 27 CDs in 12 years and performs concerts at schools, libraries and festivals.
Grisack divided the school into six groups by grade for rehearsals.
On Wednesday morning, they were editing lyrics and crafting a zombie chorus — the “hook.”