DURHAM – Superintendent James Morse and Principal Misty Lowe are pleased to announce that fourth-grade students at Mast Way Elementary have had the opportunity to learn songwriting from the professionals through a series of virtual workshops this week.
Oyster River music educator Pam Felber invited Kid Pan Alley (KPA) – an organization that works to build children’s confidence by teaching them songwriting – to teach students about the songwriting process of songs through the creation of original group songs for the second consecutive year. Felber, along with fourth grade teachers Beth Stacy, Maria Gerard, Ian Henry and Sarah Farwell, were inspired to invite Kid Pan Alley to school last year after a number of music events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From Monday, January 31 through Thursday, February 3, Kid Pan Alley Founder and Composer Paul Reisler, Education Specialist and Music Educator Cheryl Toth, and Musician Natalia Zukerman met with students virtually. The three worked with each of four fourth grade classes, approximately 80 students, to write a group song with each class.
During the workshops, the students collaborated to come up with ideas for song topics and write original lyrics. Students also learned about the creative process of songwriting, including the use of poetic devices, natural pitch and speech rhythm to compose melodies. The end result of the workshops with each fourth grade class was an original song.
Song topics included COVID-19, homework and animals. The students created the following songs:
- Stacy’s Class: “Trapped Behind the Mask”
- Gérard’s lesson: “Fly like a bird”
- Ian Henry’s lesson: “Wild and Free”
- Sarah Farwell’s lesson: “Callie loves homework”
“Music education has had to be reinvented during the pandemic, and I was inspired to invite Kid Pan Alley to school because the organization provides a safe and unique musical experience that students are sure to remember,” said Felber said. “These fun workshops motivated the students to collaborate and use their creativity to create something lasting and meaningful.”
Reisler, Toth and Zuckerman will perform the original songs for the students on Tuesday, February 15. They also plan to record the songs in a studio so students can listen to the songs whenever they want.
In addition, fourth-grade students will practice the original songs in music class. The school hopes to be able to put on a live show for students to showcase their hard work in the future.
“All of the students had so much fun during these sessions, and I want to thank Paul, Cheryl and Natalia for sharing their knowledge and experience with our young musicians,” Principal Lowe said. “I also commend Ms. Felber and our dedicated fourth-grade teachers for their commitment to providing safe, unique, and memorable musical activities for students.”
Reisler has performed in over 3,000 concerts, written over 3,500 compositions, and taught songwriting at Rocky Mountain Song School, Utah Song School, and New Song Academy, among others. Toth holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and served as supervisor of 136 elementary music programs in the Fairfax County Public School District. She worked as coordinator of the All-County Choral Festival for 900 voices and performed with the Symphonic Chorus at the Philharmonic Orchestra in Cologne, Germany. Zuckerman studied art at Oberlin College, released eight independent music albums and toured internationally as a solo performer since 2005.
To see a sample of some of the songs, please click here.
About Kid Pan Alley
Kid Pan Alley’s mission is to inspire and empower children to work together to become the creators of their own music and to rekindle creativity as a core value in education. KPA does this through collaborative songwriting residencies for children of all ages: inspiring creativity, building confidence and fostering community. Since 1999, the organization has worked with over 70,000 students to produce 2,800 original songs.