Meet The Fellows...




(photo by Kathy Moriarty)

Kilissa Cissoko - Jubilation 2012 retreat video
Musician-Educator
Buffalo, New York
Fellowship: 2012/2008


"People still have a fundamental and visceral need to come together around a common groove, to sing along with a song," says Kilissa, rockin' guitarist and singer. She also plays piano, flute, saxophone, and percussion. Before becoming a teacher, she toured for years as part of a duo called The Jazzabels.

During the 90's, Kilissa directed the non-profit organization Musicians United for Superior Education, bringing African, Afro-Latin and African-American drum and dance to inner city kids. She worked with dozens of schools and community centers, and thousands of students. Now a full-time music teacher (K-4), she believes that "creativity grows best when you cultivate it broadly. It takes a foundation of supportive conditions, motivating goals, and a steady pace. Teaching music to young children also feels like a good way to make a contribution that stands a chance of making the world a better place for the next generation."

Her students are creative and inquiring music makers. Singing, dancing, and playing instruments flow from a foundation of ear-training and teamwork. Students also listen to a wide variety of music from around the world. "Musical creativity is a focal point of my teaching," says Kilissa.

In a recent song-writing class, her students learned how to substitute words to make an original lyric. The template? Polly Put The Kettle On. "These sophisticated inner-city kids neither blinked an eye nor said a word of derision about it. They chanted and rapped that Mother Goose rhyme like it was a top 40 hit! They caught on lightening-quick. Some of them modified the rhythm by adding complex syncopation, some spun it into a melody, others added clapping, dance, and dramatic motions, a few of them tagged on a special ending - and performed with flair and bravado. Seeing their delightful ideas unfold and shine through was the best part."

Links:
http://kilissa.com/
http://www.buffaloschools.org/webpages/kcissoko/

Recordings:
The Lost Tapes
Unplugged
Supersexy Girlfriend
Skyway
(The Jazzabels)
Cafe All Day
(The Jazzabels)
Come Hell or High Harmonies
(The Jazzabels)
Why Go To Work When You Can Play?


Publications:
Musical Theater:
Airport Musical
Santa's Cookie Craving
The Best on the Beach, an adaptation of The Sneeches,
by Dr. Seuss

The hard work of music play, co-authored with Elisabeth Etopio; a chapter in The Development and Practical Application of Music Learning Theory, edited by Runfola & Taggart. Chicago: GIA Publications, c2005
http://www.giamusic.com/products/P-6656.cfm

Elementary General Music Curriculum (K-3), co-authored with Kathy Bethel, Monika Stankewicz, Mary Kay Atlas, Buffalo Public Schools 2011

Inspirations:
Students who are overcoming great obstacles. When I am able to help ANY child "get it" and reveal his/her authentic inner-creativity — that really keeps me going.

Kilissa is Reading/Listening to:
Women musicians who performed with Frank Zappa — as research for a book. My favorite so far is Carol Kaye, a session bass player who played on hundreds of influential recordings including the Beach Boys Pet Sounds. She raises the bar for me as a musician, and inspires me to dig ever deeper.


(interviewed 2012)



















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