DURHAM — Principal Misty Lowe is pleased to share that fourth grade students from Mast Way Elementary School have the opportunity this week to learn about songwriting from professionals through a series of virtual workshops.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the music education program in Oyster River Cooperative School District has needed to cancel performances as well as in-person, group singing and other instrumental practices in order to comply with social distancing, mask wearing and other public health guidance. As a way to offer students a unique and memorable experience, Oyster River music educator Pam Felber invited Kid Pan Alley, an organization that works to build confidence in children by teaching them about songwriting, to teach students the process of songwriting while also writing an original group song with each class.
“I wanted to find a unique experience for our fourth graders that would be safe and memorable,” Felber said. “I believe that by having children learn the steps to write their own music, they will be given a voice to share their thoughts and feelings. Kid Pan Alley has been doing this work with children all over the country for more than 20 years. I would like to thank the Oyster River Administration for supporting this project.”
Students are being visited virtually in their music classes this week by Kid Pan Alley Founder and composer Paul Reisler and education specialist and music educator Cheryl Toth. Reisler has performed in over 3,000 concerts, written more than 3,500 compositions and taught songwriting at Rocky Mountain Song School, Utah Song School and New Song Academy among others. Toth holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education and has served as the supervisor for 136 elementary music programs in the Fairfax County Public School District. She has also worked as coordinator for the All-County Choral Festival for 900 voices and has performed with the Symphonic Chorus at the Philharmonic in Koln, Germany.
“This was a thoughtful way to engage students musically, and we’re pleased to be able to welcome Paul and Cheryl virtually so that students can learn from them and also have fun,” Principal Lowe said.
Reisler and Toth have worked with students to produce original music since 1999 and have written over 3,000 songs with more than 65,000 students.
Reisler and Toth will work with each of the four fourth-grade classes, approximately 80 students, to write a group song with each class. The process will start by leading the students through a brainstorming process to determine what the song will be about. The students will then learn about the creative process of song writing using poetic devices, natural pitch and rhythm of speech to compose melodies. The end result of the third workshop with each fourth-grade class will be a new original song.
About Kid Pan Alley:
Kid Pan Alley’s mission is to inspire and empower children to work together to become 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.