Shuffle: Akron's Angie Haze Joins 80 Young Musicians For 'The Bigger Picture Project'
A one-woman band
Haze is known as Akron’s one-woman band. Her home studio is lined with every instrument you can think of, from guitars and mandolins to keyboards and kazoos. And she’s taught herself to play them all, including her signature tambourine shoe stitched together with pieces of suede and fur. On the wall is a dry erase board with nine song titles and “THE BIGGER PICTURE” at the top. It’s the set list for this weekend’s concert.
"The arts, and especially music, literally saved my life and if I can just provide that sanctuary, that’s everything," she says.
On Saturday, Haze goes from solo to a band of about 80, all under the age of 13. They’re students at Akron’s Miller South Performing Arts School, who’ve spent months learning her songs, choreographing dance routines, designing paintings and rehearsing skits to perform alongside her.
It’s the second year for Haze’s Bigger Picture Project that she created to emphasize the importance of the arts in schools.
"Even if it's something small, every piece makes up the bigger picture. Every single part is important."
A growing collaboration
Last year, about 50 students auditioned and worked on the project after school. Now, it’s integrated into Miller South’s curriculum, so they’re learning Haze’s songs in class. Organizer and parent Eden Kozlowski says they’ve also gotten sponsors to make the project even bigger.
"I heard from so many parents that it literally changed their life, essentially. It's feeling that confidence in yourself and knowing that you can do certain things and make it merge and Angie’s so good with that."
Lots of practice, this time with sheet music
While the students have had to learn her songs, Haze has had a lot to learn too. She doesn’t read music -- she plays strictly by ear. Last year, she showed the kids how to play the songs, but this year she had to use software to draft sheet music.
"I have a MIDI keyboard, and this program recorded me playing the notes right on this grid."
Miller South’s students have spent hours this week perfecting the songs.
Band Director Marissa Hughes says the project has given her students the experience of collaborating with a working musician.
"They have their idols in the pop world and the rock world and I think for them it’s cool for them to see that poplar music today can be instrumental and have real things; it’s not just all phony-baloney stuff," she says.
Haze says she envisions taking the Bigger Picture model on the road.
"[We can] move it to high school or universities, where it would be a program where you have school and community is involved, and every time it would be different and special because it’s part of that area; it’s part of those people.”
The Bigger Picture is Saturday at 7 p.m. at Akron’s Miller South school.
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