Jumping In

Mac Morrison, Meg Schenk, Yoojin Hahn, and Ian Child collaborate on a musical piece

In our welcome packets, my roommate and I noticed a strange all day Saturday activity called “Dunk Tank”.  We both looked at each other with a sense of dread: anything involving a water sport was not our idea of fun. You could imagine our relief when we learned that Dunk Tank was actually an all day writing extravaganza. We were given the selection of a few different types of unconventional writing and asked to try something completely foreign to us. Some of my friends took food writing or radio noir, but I decided to try my hand at songwriting.

I have always been a lover of music, and especially impressed by clever lyrics. But writing my own music felt daunting at best. So, I thought I would take up the challenge and jump in to my own personal dunk tank. We began Saturday morning by learning the mechanics of Blues music and then writing our own song in pairs. Some were hilarious and witty, while others truly captured the sorrow and longing of the Blues. I even gave the banjo a try! After being inspired by our warm up exercise, we discussed what caused our favorite songs to be so catchy. We analyzed the hooks and rhythms, and were sent off to write our own songs based on the ones that were fond to us.

We formed our own small bands and collaborated with the other students to add accompaniment to our lyrics. We spent an hour composing and practicing, and then created a performance for each other. I couldn’t have been happier with my decision to dive in. Dunk Tanks are one of my favorite experiences at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, because they allow you to get out of your own head and into a new passion. Although I’ll be returning to my regular workshop on Monday, I was so happy to get a chance to jump out of my comfort zone and into the Tank.

- Madeleine Remi

Madeleine Remi is a rising high school senior from McLean, Virginia. She’s currently attending the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio.