Empowering Children to Create and Connect Through Songwriting

Kid Pan Alley (KPA) provides songwriting residencies for children of all ages: inspiring creativity, building confidence, and fostering community. Our professional teaching artists guide students to create their own original song together as a team – helping children learn to work collaboratively, respect diverse perspectives, and express themselves through the artistic process.  Founded in 1999, we’ve written over 2,700 songs with over 65,000 children in schools across the country, from Virginia to Hawai’i. 

Engaging and Flexible Online Programming 
We recognize the challenges facing school districts in providing meaningful and engaging distance learning during this 2020-2021 school year.   We can help. Our songwriting residencies are now offered in an online format that allows students to explore, share, and create virtually with maximum flexibility and impact.

Children love music! Kid Pan Alley inspires children how to become creators of their own music. Together they write a group song. While it’s a great boost to literacy as they learn and get excited about creative writing, poetic devices, and using the natural  pitch and rhythm of speech to compose melodies, the songwriting also reinforces their retention in other areas of study.  KPA programs help students think and gather experience in the creative process–using music as a tool to connect with history, culture, current events and their own experiences.

These are songs the children are proud of, that they will remember many years from now.  Songs that are so good that artists including Amy Grant, Sissy Spacek, Delbert McClinton, Cracker, Kix Brooks, Nashville Chamber Orchestra, John McCutcheon, Lisa Loeb, Suzy Bogguss and many others have recorded them to honor the work of the children. One song even received a Grammy nomination.

Led by two professional KPA songwriters, the students write each song in two 1-hour sessions held on consecutive days.  The group collaborates to choose their song topic, write original lyrics and melody, and record the song once it’s complete. A live or online performance of the song – for the school and community — may be included in the workshop as circumstances permit. There are countless program variations that can be specifically tailored to different class topics or themes. Examples include:

  • The Stories We Share: Guest speakers share experiences from their own lives as inspiration for their original song; often conducted as an intergenerational or intercultural program
  • The Music of Art and Write in this BookStudents base their song on a painting, poem, play or other work of art that they study together.  Promotes literacy and interdisciplinary arts education.
  • Themed Workshops — Students explore a topic together and write a song based on their shared perspectives (examples: diversity/inclusion, mental health, nature/environment, history, etc.).
  • One Little Song Can Change the World–A fun and interactive 45-minute concert featuring performances of KPA songs that focus on respect– for the earth, each other, and ourselves.

“There is nothing more helpful to a developing human than to learn how to express feelings in sound. Kid Pan Alley is a fabulous way of bringing young people into the loop of reflective behavior, of constructive action.”
                    Maestro Lorin Maazel, Music Director, New York Philharmonic

Contact Us
We look forward to the opportunity to talk with you about our programs for your school community. To schedule a phone call or meeting, please email Cheryl Toth at cheryl@kidpanalley.org or call us 540-322-2022.

More information

Program Goals  & Objectives:

Kid Pan Alley programs are designed to help to promote teamwork, inspire creative thinking and expression, hone performance skills and self confidence, build vocabulary, encourage respect for intellectual property and help children tie personal experience to what’s happening in the world around them.   We do this by keeping them engaged and giving them the power to create something unique, lasting and completely their own.  

Some of the specific program benefits include:

  • Promoting self-awareness and self-confidence by attaching value to the students’ creative impulses;
  • Helping children experience creative expression as a means of embracing diversity, teamwork, and collaboration;
  • Improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills;
  • Helping children learn and increase their ability to learn. Kid Pan Alley addresses national learning standards in the areas of creativity, music, English, performance, and connects to other areas of learning including History, Civics, Science, and Health. We think this is one of the most important outcomes of our program;
  • Promoting community awareness of the arts as essential elements of instruction in the lives of children;
  • fostering collaboration between students, teachers, administrators, artists, and the community through working together in a creative process; and
  • Teaching respect for intellectual property. Children who have written their own songs have a first-hand understanding of the negative effects of “pirating” on creators and their communities.

Kid Pan Alley programs provide a unique creative opportunity to children in a collaborative environment.  This program keeps children intensely engaged as they work together to write their own song – both music and lyrics.  When the week ends, their pride is evident as they perform their compositions in a concert for their school and community.   Whether it’s a weeklong songwriter in residence workshop or a single day Character Development Assembly program, Kid Pan Alley’s artistic staff will empower your students to stretch their creative muscles as they learn to respect diverse perspectives and work together as a team.