As women of African descent, the members of Give Get Sistet have a visceral understanding of the power of music to engage, empower, heal, and transform. Being teaching artists gives them the opportunity to teach others to use their voices as instruments for building community, as technology for mental health management, and as tools for social change. They believe that singing together can change the world.
The Give Get Sistet is an expandable improvisational chorus of women started in 2010 and based in the Twin Cities, with ties around the world. Using a cappella singing and vocal improvisation, the Sistet educates, engages and empowers audiences and communities from a wide variety of backgrounds, ages and cultures. They consist of 6 members, who each identify as educators and performers in their own right. Together, they represent a most powerful and moving vocal force: Sarah M. Greer, Aimee K. Bryant, Alicia Steele, Jayanthi Kyle, Libby Turner and Mankwe Ndosi.
The Give Get Sistet is comprised of six women with wide ranging artistic experience. Among us are former members of the Grammy Award Winning ensemble The Sounds of Blackness, a McKnight Theater Artist Fellow, repeat State Arts Board Award recipients, Internationally touring recording artists, public school and community college music department faculty members, music therapy practitioners, herbalists and healers, dancers, and recording and performance artists. Recent performances include Talking Volumes, Wild Rice Festival, North American Roots Festival, Rondo Days, Open Streets Minneapolis, Northern Voice Festival and Carleton College.
A musical journey through the history of Africans in America using song, poetry, movement, and story. The Sistet teaches songs and their history as part of the performance, and invites audience participation, and engagement in song-learning. Participants can describe, demonstrate and recognize cultural uses of music from different time periods and places.
A musical presentation based around a theme chosen by the site. Example: invitation to pass a ball of sound. Sistet introduces a pulsing pattern that can be sung by everyone. Each audience participant makes a ball of sound and we move it around the room. The goal is to experience and explore vocal improvisation while keeping the energy moving as we take turns. Participants create or improvise melodic phrases using specified tonalities.
Participants are given to tools to create songs by improvising with each other.
Improv Exercise - Rhythm Circle: One person begins a rhythm (with instruments or by clapping or vocally). One at a time we go around the circle and each person adds their own rhythm. Once everyone is in, a Sistet member names a topic and individuals are invited to solo. The solo can be sung or spoken or rhythmic. For advanced groups the soloist can conduct the volume and tempo during their solo so that everyone is learning to listen and stay connected to the group. Participants generate rhythmic, musical ideas that include expressive elements such as dynamics, articulation, timbre.
A singing workshop based around a theme chosen by the site.
Example: Song of Many Parts: Using pieces of songs well known to the singers (i.e. lullabies, pop songs, camp songs, etc.), the Sistet helps participants create a pattern song. Each member is invited to add a new idea or join/harmonize with an idea someone else is singing. The goal is to experience and explore well-known songs in new contexts. Singers must listen carefully to find ways to make the song pieces “fit.” Participants create melodic pieces using song elements they already know.
Warming up: Sistet teaches exercises to warm up the voice and ears for group singing.
Call and Response: Sistet sings an idea for the group to sing back. Group responds using the same language, tone and volume. Harmony basics: Sistet invites invdividuals to hold single notes to build 2-, 3- and 4-note chords (in younger, shyer or less experienced groups Sistet members can help individuals or small groups hold notes). Participants practice pitch matching, blend and vocal independence (ability to hold a unique part in a group song) by singing a cappella exercises and songs together.
Participants will use improvisation to build community and create songs collaboratively around a social justice issue they are passionate about.
Small Group Work: Each member of the Sistet works with small groups to create a new song through improvisation. The group will choose a social justice theme they want their song to address. The group then creates a short phrase of text which expresses their message to use as their lyrics. One member creates a melodic pattern. Each member adds a musical element until everyone is singing. One at a time each member improvises over the pattern using the theme. Their improvisation could be sung or spoken. It doesn’t have to rhyme. It is simply the opportunity for each singer to say what he wants about the topic over the music. Participants improvise, arrange, or modify phrases that demonstrate understanding of musical elements.
Participants will learn some of the history, elements and songs of the American Diaspora. Sistet will perform and teach songs drawing from jazz, blues and spirituals. We will discuss the elements of these songs that link back to African musical traditions. Activities will vary based on workshop length, but may include: participants write and perform a blues, using songs to effect change (songs of the civil rights movement), the harmony of spirituals, etc. We will talk about the long tradition of improvising in these musical styles and give students an opportunity to learn some songs, to try call and response and improvising. Participants learn to identify, sing and create music that incorporates elements of the American diaspora.