North Branford 1st Grader's Pandemic Song, 'Upside Down World' Set to Music by American Composer
Jerome Harrison Elementary School (JHS) music teacher Linda Franklin-Biggs (right) and principal Beth Parker (left) with young lyricist Evan Green and his mom Alison Green. Evan is holding the sheet music for "Upside Down World" a song he wrote which has been set to music by American composer Eugénie Rocherolle. (Photo by Terri Rienzo for JHS )
A North Branford first-grader who wrote lyrics to a song about his view of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has had his words set music by a noted American composer, Eugénie Rocherolle. Evan Green's song, "Upside Down World," will be taught to Jerome Harrison Elementary School students in the new school year, said his teacher, Linda Franklin-Biggs, who is the K-2 school's music instructor.
Franklin-Biggs developed the idea of having her first graders write song lyrics about the pandemic as a spin-off of a writing project idea she'd been discussing with a first grade teacher just before COVID-19 shut down schools in March, she said.
"First grade is a really crucial year for them for writing," said Franklin-Biggs. "Once the schools shut down, I thought, 'What could I do with this idea?' So what I did was I collaborated with a nationally known composer, Eugénie Rocherolle."
Rocherolle is an American composer, pianist, lyricist, and teacher who lives in Connecticut. Franklin-Biggs, who teaches both privately and as a public school teacher, knows Rocherolle personally through her involvement in the CT Music Teachers Association.
"I contacted her and asked if she'd be willing to do this collaboration with me," said Franklin-Biggs. "My idea was to ask all the first graders to write lyrics about COVID-19 or how this is affecting them. Something that, 10 or 20 or 30 years from now, they could go back and look at their words and remember something about what they were feeling at the time. And one would be selected by this composer, and she would set it to music."
Rocherolle agreed to do the project gratis. She selected Evan's work and completed the composition in May. By early June, Franklin-Biggs received the copyrighted composition in her mailbox. She said she immediately took it to her piano to try it out.
"It's got a little bit of syncopation to it, kind of like a folk song. It's meant to be sung," said Franklin-Biggs.
Recently Evan and his mom, Alison Green, met briefly with Franklin-Biggs and school principal Beth Parker outside the school, so that Evan could get a chance to see the sheet music for "Upside Down World" and be part of a commemorative photo.
"It was very exciting for Evan and his mom -- just to see his name written in this music, 'Words by Evan Green and Music by Eugénie Rocherolle,'" said Franklin-Biggs.
While the music hasn't been published, it certainly will be heard and enjoyed here in North Branford, said Franklin-Biggs.
"I'm hoping to do something with it in the fall, when Evan will be a second grader and still at the school, and I can teach it to the kids," she said.