15. March 2023 | Magazine:

Uni meets school Music project by student teachers to Rihanna song

It is not widely known that you can study music at TU Braunschweig. In a joint interregional project by students and lecturers, the Institute for Music and Music Education has now shown what music lessons can look like and what results can be achieved by pupils within two days. Seven student music teachers reinterpreted Rihanna’s song “Diamonds” with pupils from the Apollonia Oberschule in Uelzen.

Together with teacher Peer Frenzke and Professor Bernhard Weber, the students developed the music project for pupils. Photo credit: Johanna Suthoff/TU Braunschweig

After the project was conceived in a seminar and further developed with Professor Bernhard Weber and teacher Peer Frenzke, they went to Uelzen for two days in February. Under the direction of the Braunschweig students, twelve pupils from grades 5 to 9 realised a special version of Rihanna’s piece “Diamonds”. The students used a method that does not require any knowledge of music.

The pupils, who had never played music together in this group before, divided into different instrument groups, which were led by the students. Lea Köhler and Rebecca Koch studied the vocal parts with Mina and Hannah. Mohammad quickly wrote suitable rap lyrics.

Goosebumps during the performance

With the support of Johanna Suthoff, Jan learned the chords of the piece on the keyboard. The pupil was particularly pleased that he can now play with both hands at the same time.

Constanze Pinelli led the group of string instruments. This consisted of Taylor on the electric guitar, Rolian on the electric bass and Salman on the saz, a plucked instrument similar to a guitar, which is widely used from the Balkans to Afghanistan. The last instrument group consisted of Jason on bass drum, Dominik on snare, Finn on jingles and Destiny on drums and was led by Nicole Grabowski. The piece was given a special touch by Philip at the DJ booth.

Already on the first day, the groups were able to successfully play together and in the end, a new version of the song was created. “The last two rounds gave both the pupils and us students goosebumps,” reports Johanna Suthoff. Rebecca Koch admitted in the final round that she even had tears in her eyes.  Recordings of the live version were also made, which made the project unforgettable for the students. The project was also accompanied by documentary filmmaker Gary Krosnoff.

A new version of Rihanna's "Diamonds" was created at Apollonia Oberschule in Uelzen. Photo credit: Johanna Suthoff/TU Braunschweig

Philip was excited to see that he had improved at the DJ console. Photo credit: Johanna Suthoff/TU Braunschweig

Finn was enthusiastic about the jingle wreath. Photo credit: Johanna Suthoff/TU Braunschweig

Destiny on the drums. Photo credit: Johanna Suthoff/TU Braunschweig

Rapid progress and practical experience

“The music project not only strengthened the pupils’ musical skills, but also helped pupils of different nationalities and grades work together and form a community,” says Johanna Suthoff. All the students were thrilled with the rapid progress they made on their instruments. Philip from grade 5 was happy that he had improved at the DJ booth and was satisfied in the end, despite initial difficulties.

Fifth grader Finn enthusiastically told us, “At first I couldn’t handle the jingle wreath, but with the students’ guidance I can actually do it relatively well now.” And Salman (6th grade) also said, “What I played, I couldn’t do before. I thought it was nice that I learned it so quickly. With other things it always takes a bit longer.”

For the students, the project was a valuable addition to their music studies, as it gave them further practical experience. “The development of the project challenged us to look beyond just teaching,” says Johanna Suthoff.

Text: Johanna Suthoff