In high school, our music teacher/school disciplinarian (a terrifying combination, by the way) used to give us some fairly creative assignments. As much as she and I butted heads on the discipline stuff, she nonetheless really inspired me to explore music in ways I hadn’t previously considered. She once sent us home to work on reinterpreting a piece of music in another style without changing anything but the tempo and instruments. Since this was during my Andrés Segovia phase, I turned “Dueling Banjos” into a classical guitar piece with a slow walking pace, and I still remember how proud I was of how well it worked. (Guitar players, try it sometime. It’s surprisingly lovely!)
One of my favorite assignments was when she told us to write and sing (or play) a new harmony with a recorded piece of music. I chose my favorite Simon and Garfunkel B-side, April Come She Will. The song (and my harmony) has stayed with me for 30+ years, and I love it still.
Just imagine me harmonizing along . . .