By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
MILTON — Aspiring artists and songwriters have a chance to hone their skills at new workshops being held at the Jungle Teen Center, 139 S. Front St., Milton.
One workshop focuses on song writing and the other on mural painting, said Milton Main Street Manager George Venios.
“We are trying to do more programming for the teenagers beyond (the Teen Center socials),” he said. “There’s things that the kids want to do and learn.”
The workshops are funded partially through a grant by the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, Venios said. The Milton High and Middle Schools have also helped register participants and help promote the sessions, Venios said.
The mural workshop begins Jan. 17 and will be held on Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for eight weeks. The 10 participants will be recreating the Jungle mural at the Milton Middle School, with a twist, said Deb Owens, a retired art teacher who is leading the class.
“We’re planning to take the main emphasis of the mural but then to add our own twist to it,” she said. “I would like to change things and add to it what the club represents.”
The new mural will be a permanent fixture at the Jungle Teen Center, Owens said.
Owens said she hopes participants learn to look at art in a new way.
“I hope they develop a better appreciation of art and murals since Milton has four large murals on their buildings,” she said.
Art is also an ever-present force, Owens said.
“(Art) is so vital, one of the first things babies do is start scribbling,” Owens said. “Art just impacts every part of our lives defines our culture.”
The song writing session has 20 available spaces and will be lead by singer-songwriter KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner. The eight-week workshop begins Jan. 14 and sessions will be Monday evenings from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Reimensnyder-Wagner is excited to work with the area’s young aspiring musicians, she said.
“Song writing can celebrate different moments in numerous ways,” she said. “I’m hoping to offer this same lesson of life to them. I’m honored to have the opportunity.”
In her sessions, students will learn melody writing, lyric writing, recording a demo and the overall business of song writing, though there’s no hidden formula for becoming a musical success, Reimensnyder-Wagner said.
“If you wait for the perfect lyric or the perfect string of notes to come out, you may never write any piece at all,” she said. “Just start writing as the energy comes through. Perfection isn’t part of the process. Releasing what’s inside, getting it onto paper, laptop or in some form of release, is the initial goal.”
Providing these outlets for young people is important because it gives young artists a way to embrace their creative sides, Owens said.
“A lot of students may not be able to express themselves in other ways,” she said.
That’s something Reimensnyder-Wagner knows from personal experience.
“When I was a teen — and even now — I’ve used song writing as my outlet from stress and the frustrations and excitements of life,” she said.