The members of Penn’s newest music group met up over Munchkins and three guitars to jam on Saturday.
Ten student musicians met in Kelly Writers’ House for the first meeting of For Lyricists and Musicians, also known as FLAM. In music, a flam is an offbeat drum hit, something that could be interpreted as a mistake. But for club founder and president Devon O’Connor, FLAM means much more than just that — it means embracing your mistakes and learning from them.
“I’ve always been in love with music and songwriting,” said O’Connor, who is a Wharton freshman. For her, the club is a chance for collaboration between different people who share her passions.
During the two-hour meeting, students divided into groups to create different songs, all entitled “Russian Roulette for Pennies.” They also discussed creating music with alternative instruments, like harmonicas and paper cups.
After their first meeting, they have already penned three partial songs.
For College sophomore Greg Kappes, FLAM fills a gap for collaboration among musicians on campus.
There really is no group on campus yet that allows students to come together and write music, Kappes said. As a songwriter, Kappes sometimes struggles to find musicians to play his music and provide feedback.
“Writing your music is one thing,” he said. “Just getting your music played, getting your music heard,” and getting feedback from another musician is really important.
“[FLAM is] going to be beneficial to the music environment” at Penn, he added.
With help from the KWH and its director Jessica Lowenthal, O’Connor was able to get the group off ground.
O’Connor is hopeful that the club can produce some new music and help students work through their difficulties with music writing. She will be acting as a writing mentor for others in the group, as she has experience with the process — she expects to release an album of her own music by the end of this year.
The group draws in life-long musicians as well as those with less experience.
O’Connor, like many of the members of FLAM, can pinpoint the moment when she discovered her passion for music. It was when she, as a toddler, went to a Billy Joel concert with her father.
“[It] changed my life,” she said.
College freshman and FLAM member Jack Gindi has been playing guitar since age 10 and writing music since 15.
“I’ve been looking for other music [groups] and it just kind of worked out that there are other people [who are also] interested in writing music,” he said. Gindi said he is particularly excited about the collaborative nature of FLAM.
Others, like Kappes, have a little less experience but are still enthusiastic about the group.
“[I’m] seeing what this is all about,” Kappes, who plays the piano, said. When Kappes took up piano in high school, he realized his new creative outlet was not only in playing music but also in creating it.
“I just realized I wanted to be a songwriter,” he said.
He said he is excited about what he could learn through the club.
Like Kappes, David Glanzman, an Engineering freshman, does not have as much experience. However, he does not let this deter him.
“I always jump at the opportunity to meet with people interested in the same side of things” like music production and song writing, Glanzman said.
“The whole genesis of something is new to me, so hopefully I’ll get used to that,” he said. Hearing this, O’Connor interrupted to assure him that experience isn’t necessary to be a member of FLAM — or to write music.
“You just have to have some passion,” she said.
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