Welcome to Kid Pan Alley

Imagine if you were a child writing a song in your classroom with a professional songwriter. Then suppose that your song was recorded by a world-class recording artist like Delbert McClinton, Cracker, Sissy Spacek, Amy Grant, Kix Brooks, Suzy Bogguss, Corey Harris, or Raul Malo. You’d be changed forever. You’d have learned about teamwork, the value of everyone’s ideas, embracing diversity and collaboration through the group songwriting process. You might start writing songs to express your feelings rather than striking out in anger. You’d feel really listened to and proud of what you had done. And just imagine that this was the most fun you ever had in school. Well, this is what Kid Pan Alley is doing in schools throughout the country—inspiring kids use their imaginations—to be creators of their own music, not just consumers of popular culture. We’ve written over 2,700 songs with more than 40,000 children and we’ve got to say kids make the greatest co-writers. Come on inside and hear some of their creations. And, if you are so inclined, help us bring Kid Pan Alley to your community.

Here is a great introduction to what we do at Kid Pan Alley narrated by Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock with Kathy Mattea and Sharon Lawrence

Listen to a different story on WCVE-FM 88.9 on Kid Pan Alley's Music of Art Program with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Here's a feature from WETA-PBS on the Kid Pan Alley National Symphony collaboration

Morning Edition on NPR: host Renee Montagne interviews Paul Reisler, Kid Pan Alley founder and Artistic Director.

Kid Pan Alley Alley on Channel 7 in Covington, VA

A story from ABC News 10 in Stockton, CA about our project with the Stockton Symphony. We had 7 concerts with the full orchestra from Jan 17-22.

Kid Pan Alley performs with National Symphony--NBC, Ch. 4 News

WMRA-FM, the NPR station in Harrisonburg (90.7 fm), interviewed Kid Pan Alley's Artistic Director, Paul Reisler and songwriting assistant Heather Mae. Listen in as Tom Graham, host of Virginia Insights, shares the Kid Pan Alley story with listeners.

West Hawai'i Today: Kid Pan Alley was the lead story on the front page in the largest daily newspaper on the Big Island. Kohala Students Make Music With Pros:

Kid Pan Alley at Kilmer Center, Vienna, VA
This great story about the writing of Kilmer Center's Alma Mater song. Kilmer Center is a school for children who are seriously impacted with autism. Sun Gazette:

Voice of America on Kid Pan Alley's songwriter in residence program at Orr Elementary School in Washington, DC.

Upcoming events • Winter, 2016

Jan 5-8 • Covington, VA • Covington Schools residency
Jan 11-12 • Covington, VA • Covington Schools residency
Jan 13 • Washington, DC • TheArc • Concert for Moten, Turner and Savoy Elementary Schools • 4:30 pm
Jan 20-22 • Covington, VA • Covington Schools residency
Jan 24 • Covington, VA • Covington Schools concert
Feb 8-12 • Hawi, HI • N. Kohala Elementary • KPA residency
Feb 22-26 • Eureka, CA • Scotia Elementary KPA residency
Mar 2 • Washington, DC • Levine Music • Songwriting Workshop Mar 14-18 • Fluvanna, VA County Schools • KPA residency
Mar 21-22 • Fluvanna, VA County Schools • KPA residency
Apr 6-8 • Troy, VA • Oakland School • KPA residency
Apr 11-15 • Orange, VA • Orange Elementary • KPA residency
Apr 18-22 • Towson, MD • Ridge Ruxton School • KPA residency
Download songs from past residencies!

Kid Pan Alley recently performed songs we wrote at Chris Yung Elementary with the Manassas Symphony at the Hylton Center. Watch the performances here.

Hawai'i Preparatory Academy. Download the songs at www.bit.ly/k-hpa15

Kid Pan Alley at N. Kohala Elementary. Concert Feb 15, Kahilu Theatre To download the songs: http://bit.ly/kohala15

Noyes Elementary-Kid Pan Alley with a trio from National Symphony

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Patrick Henry School of Arts and Sciences. A song inspired by a painting of Marion Anderson about her historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when she wasn't allowed to perform at Constitution Hall because of her race.

Marshall & Vinewood Elementary Schools, Stockton and Lodi, CA. A project with the Stockton Symphony. There will be 7 concerts with the full orchestra on Jan. 17, 20, 21, 22. www.stocktonsymphony.org

Kid Pan Alley at Janney Elementary
I Forgot to Charge My Phone Today

Ellie's Adventure, A Tribute to Princess Strong • November 22nd, 2013

One very special song at Orange Elementary, though, was inspired by this little beauty, Ellie Blaine. Her big brother's is a student at the school and the whole school adopted Ellie. Ms. Faulconer’s 5th graders wrote a song to commemorate her indomitable spirit as she battled a rare form of cancer. Ellie passed away a couple of weeks later. We will never forget singing her song for her and the joy on her face as the whole school sang for her.

Kid Pan Alley Blog •

March 15, 2015 by Cheryl Toth, Kid Pan Alley Executive Director

How can one day or one week of an event or interaction with an artist make an impact? This is a question and often a criticism of many arts programs today. In attempts to address this to funders and Arts Commissions, I took some time to reflect on the question.

What can make an immediate lasting impact and how does it happen?

We do not live in art galleries, yet when we visit a museum, our visual perception and emotional connection to art leaves immediate and lasting impressions. The first time I went to the Hirshhorn museum I saw the Calder Mobile hanging between the levels, I stopped dead in my tracks to watch it move and the awe of seeing one section influence and impact the movement of the other. The half step interval played in the lower octave of the keyboard reminds me of the imminent shark attack. The first time I watch the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, the imprint was immediate. So why is it so hard to acknowledge and accept that impact?

Educators, and I happen to be one of them, are trained to look for data in numbers that tell us something has or has not happened. Standards’ based testing is a great example of this. If a child passes the test, we have data saying they know the content. If they fail, we use data to say the child doesn’t know the content. Many teachers would argue that data is not the only indicator of successful learning.

Thus the question about impact or imprinting comes to mind. Can we learn something with only one interaction whether it is with an object, a person or an experience? I would argue that who we are and what we determine to be our values are significantly impacted and influenced by “one-time”, “once heard” interactions.

In reflection, I realized that I attached emotions to many experiences. “I loved that, I want to do it again.” “That scared me to death, I’ll never do that again.” I laugh thinking about the phrase, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Many of our behaviors are initiated by one-time interactions, influenced by people we know and some who are strangers. If there is a repeat of those interactions, then the behavior is reinforced. That doesn’t diminish the “first time” effect. The first time I rode a horse, the first time I attended a funeral, the first time I heard Martin Luther King speak.

Our lives are embedded with first times. So, why do we say that you cannot learn a skill or be influenced by the act of creating a song if it only happens once? There are many experiences in our lives that occur one time, by design or by chance In my reflection, I can list one time events from my childhood to now. Can they be measured? No…they only happened once. Did they change my life? Some did and others molded and influenced my perspective. The most meaningful one time events led me to seek out more experiences, thus determining my career, my passions and my convictions.

This past week, a family came up to me after a Kid Pan Alley concert and shared how delighted they were with the program and how amazed they were that their daughter came home singing everyday. By their side was their daughter, smiling and proud. How do you measure that? Will that experience shaper her life or change her future?

Will she compose her own song or find artistic ways of expression later in life? If we had a crystal ball, we might be able to see the future and answer those questions. But until that time, we continue to teach creativity in hopes that it will imprint on the generations of children who will be the gatekeepers of the future.

July 20, 2014 Maestro Lorin Maazel died last week. He was the preeminent American conductor having conducted every major orchestra in the world. He'd been music director for many orchestras including New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Munich Symphony and others.

He was one of our neighbors and I have heard some of the best music of my life from orchestras conducted by him at his Castleton Festival and at the NY Philharmonic. Kid Pan Alley exists thanks to the support of the Maestro and his wife, Dietlinde. They were one of the major supporters of our first album. Here's a poem I wrote to mark his passing.

In Memory – Maestro of All Maestros
the riderless podium
the empty pot
the open score
brilliantly lit in the darkness
but minus the maestro
the notes were but fly specks
upon the page
they were not the music

we stood
we clapped
a thunderous tribute
to genius
it would have gone on
for hours
had they not turned on the lights
had they not started to play
as best they could
without him
but not even hours
not even days
nor months, nor years of applause
would not have fully acknowledged
the gift he gave to music
to us

i watched him intently
so many, many times
from the first concert in the theatre
where Maazel and Bronfman and Frankel
played the Tchaikovsky Am
though virtually every concert in castleton
to london for 1984 and to New York for his final mahler 8th’s
i watched the subtle minuet the tip of his baton (was it the one mahler used?)
the dance of his bow upon his strad
i watched him conduct
with his eyebrows
and his glance
and the glare
of an unapproving eye
but it was not the gesture it was not movement, nor the motion but his will
for his will was enough
to lead a symphony of a thousand
or a quartet of eight
and it will be enough
to lead all the music
to come
in this festival
we have all come to love
thank you, thank you, thank you
maestro of all maestros
thank you

Paul Reisler July 19, 2014

December 21, 2013.


Dear Friends, Like most organizations, we usually spend a bit of time at year-end reflecting on our work over the past year. This generally means compiling and evaluating statistics from last year - how many songs we wrote with how many children, the attendance for our concerts, etc. KPA did a lot this last year, including a 2-week residency in Rappahannock, and projects with the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where art was the inspiration for the songs. But this year, we found ourselves... Click Here

Kid Pan Alley Featured in Washington Post • 1/12/16



“Kid Pan Alley is the quintessential program for helping kids to experience their creative power, their voice, and their own self-expression. This is the kind of experience that changes lives.”

Kathy Mattea, Grammy Award Winner
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