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Faculty Spotlight: Hannah Lopez

Allow yourself to experiment and make mistakes. Be open to new ideas… Write, write, write! The only way to get better at something is to practice it constantly.

Hannah L.

What do you like about working for CMCB?

I love being part of CMCB and their mission to provide equitable and accessible music education to different communities in the greater Boston area. It was thanks to accessible music programs similar to CMCB’s that I was able to begin studying music back in my home country (Mexico) and I enjoy giving back to the community in the same way it was given to me while growing up. 

What personally made you decide to go into music?

I have always admired the way that musicians are able to express emotions and connect with the listener through a combination of sounds and lyrics and I have been inclined to do the same from a very young age. My path as a musician began mainly in classical music although I’ve always been a writer as well. In the last few years I have explored my skills as a songwriter and began recording and releasing my own original music under my artist name “Hannah Schzde” using my training on violin and piano to write the musical arrangements. As a teaching artist, I love being able to share what I’ve learned over the years with students of all ages!

What have you learned about teaching in the last year?

I really think that teaching online during the pandemic helped me develop better communication skills both in spoken and written form. When teaching online we rely mainly on visual tools and slides, so I put a lot of work on making these tools as simple and direct as possible but also visually engaging. It was also challenging but very rewarding to learn and come up with different online activities that will keep the students engaged in class and now I am adapting some of these activities to my in-person classes as well.

Do you have a favorite memory of last year?

My favorite memory of last year was recording a violin duet with one of my private violin students and putting together 8 different songs written and produced by my students at McKinley School and Hurley School. I also loved watching the students do their best and be creative in spite of the circumstances!

Listen to compositions by Hannah’s students at the Hurley School, performed at this year’s Fete de la Musique.

What are you most looking forward to this school year?

This year I’ll be teaching a lot of songwriting classes and I am very excited about all of them! I’m looking forward to going back to McKinley and Hurley School to teach songwriting in-person this time and do a lot of the activities we couldn’t do online during last school year. I’m really excited about seeing some familiar faces and meeting new ones as well. I’m also happy to be able to teach a bilingual songwriting class at Hurley school again this year!

Where did the name Schzde come from?

“Schzde” (pronounces “Sheez-dae”) is a name I made up when I was in high school. It is inspired in the name Scheherazade which belongs to the main character from “One Thousand And One Nights”. “Scheherazade” is also the title of one of my favorite pieces of music by Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov.

Watch Hannah’s new music video, “Shine”

What are some other tips you have for young composers? 

Some advice I can give to young composers is: Allow yourself to experiment and make mistakes. Be open to new ideas, either if they come from you or someone else. Write, write, write! The only way to get better at something is to practice it constantly. Read books or listen to podcasts/audiobooks about songwriting and learn about how your favorite artists became who they are now.

Here are a couple of songwriting podcasts I recommend (also available on Spotify and iTunes):

Songwriter Theory by Joseph Vadala: https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/songwriter-theory-podcast-770670/episodes

Songwriting For Everyone by Joseph R. Lilore: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5idXp6c3Byb3V0LmNvbS8yNjA2NzEucnNz/episode/QnV6enNwcm91dC05NjgyNTE?sa=X&ved=0CAYQkfYCahcKEwjwjP3x8eXyAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ

Also, find inspiration in everything! From the world around you and your own experiences to stories from movies, books or TV shows.

Last but not least: keep a composition/songwriting journal, and write down every idea you get, either if it’s just one word or a whole verse. More often than not, we can forget a great idea unless we write it down or record it somewhere!

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