We've found that we can write songs about almost any appropriate topic.  We'd love to develop a project with you that suits the needs of your community.  We offer: Songwriting Residency Programs, Assembly Programs, Concerts, and Bouncing'—the Kid Pan Alley musical.  Find out about the programs below.

We live in a creative economy, yet most arts education focusses on the re-creative, not the creative—learning how to sing a song that’s already been written, act in a play that someone else wrote.  

Since 1999 Kid Pan Alley has been inspiring the creativity of children throughout the country. Guided by Kid Pan Alley songwriters, the kids create, perform and record their own music. It is their music and they are proud of it. We often hear the kids walking down the hall singing their songs. Years later, they still remember every word.

Kid Pan Alley is a community building program that often partners with other organizations.  We love coming up with special projects that serve the needs of the school and community.

We also have special themed residency and partnership programs. You can find out all about them in the next tab: Themed Residency Programs.  These include:

  • The Music of Art--partnerships with museums
  • Write in this Book--literacy program
  • Across the Ages--intergenerational residencies
  • Wonder and Reflection--partnerships with environmental organizations
  • Strike Up the Band--partnerships with orchestras
  • Everyone has Something to Say--programs for special needs children

How It Works

In a typical week-long Kid Pan Alley workshop, two professional songwriters work with approximately 200 children to write 8 original songs over four days. Each class works with the songwriters for 2 one-hour sessions to write their songs. The children pick their topic, brainstorm, write the lyrics and the melody for their song as a group.  Typically we work with grades K-5, though we have worked with kids from ages 3 to 103 and do work on occasion with pre-school as well as Jr. High and High School.

The final day of the workshop is reserved for rehearsal and the concerts—an afternoon concert for the school and an evening one to share with the community. The afternoon concert is recorded multi-track and is mixed and duplicated making CD’s available at the evening concert. Brochure

Most programs are 5-days though we can provide half-week residencies.  For single day events, please see our assembly programs.

Songwriter in Residence 

Kid Pan Alley’s songwriting residencies teach kids to how to harness and express their creativity through writing and performing original songs. In a typical week-long Kid Pan Alley workshop, two professional songwriters work with 200 children, usually in kindergarten to fifth grades, to write 8 original songs over four days. The songwriters will meet with four classes writing in two sessions of an hour on the first two days and then repeat this process with four different classes writing on the third and fourth days. The final day of the workshop is reserved for rehearsal, and of course, the concerts. Each workshop includes one just for the school in an afternoon assembly and a second, evening concert for the entire community

In addition to our regular residency programs, we have developed a number of special residencies that focus on a particular topic or arts integration. These programs include:

The Music of Art—Museum Partnerships

Using visual arts as inspiration for songs, the children begin their workshop week with a visit to a museum where they observe a collection of visual art. After they write their songs, the songs become the inspiration for their own paintings by the children. Art inspiring song– inspiring art.  We’ve presented these residencies in partnerships with major museums including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Visionary Museum, Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Richmond Children’s Museum as well as with regional museums and art galleries.  BrochureVideo,  Letter from VA Museum of Fine Arts, Letter from Museum of Country Music

Write in this Book–Literacy Program

Kid Pan Alley and award-winning children’s author Mary Amato work together to inspire and support children in the creative writing process through collaborative journal writing and songwriting. The children learn how to develop and write in character in the collaborative journal writing process inspired by Amato’s book, “Write in this Book.”  Then, what they have written in their classroom book becomes the inspiration for song. This residency helps children explore, practice and share as they grow into writers.  Flyer

Across the Ages—Intergenerational Residencies

Our intergenerational residency workshop follows the same basic platform as our standard songwriting workshop, but the program includes 15-30 older adults in the songwriting process.  Kid Pan Alley, and sometimes the school, working with a senior services partner, will bring senior citizens in to talk with students at a school that is hosting a Kid Pan Alley residency.  This story sharing inspires the songwriting process for both the children and the seniors and provides an unparalleled opportunity to bridge the age gap and teach history and culture with context. Brochure

Wonder and Reflection–Songs Inspired By Nature, Conservation, and the Wilderness

Developed in partnership with the Shenandoah National Park and the National Endowment for the Arts in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Kid Pan Alley works with schools in gateway communities to the Shenandoah National Park, writing songs inspired by field trips to the Park.  

These projects are designed to bring children into contact with the natural world to experience its beauty, majesty, and importance to our natural and national history so that they may become the next generation of stewards of the environment. By responding to these experiences with a creative act, these encounters deepen and often become life-changing events. We also present similar programs with environmental organizations and other groups involved in the natural environment, outdoor education and nature.  Flyer

Strike Up the Band—Orchestral Partnerships

After the children write their songs, a quartet representing the different families of instruments work with the children to arrange their songs. We explain the choices an orchestrator must make—what lyrical phrases they want to highlight, the arc of the arrangement, and which instruments evoke the different emotions. After the musicians show all the different sounds they can make on their instruments from the tasteless and rude to the beautiful and sublime they all work together to decide what how to highlight and deepen the experience through orchestration.

The quartet performs with the kids and Kid Pan Alley in a school concert.  Then we pick out a few of the songs and a professional orchestrator arranges the songs for performance with the orchestra for one of their concerts.  The students sing with the orchestra at those performances.

A few of the orchestras we’ve worked with include the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony, Stockton Symphony, Manassas Symphony, Montpelier Symphony and others. What a remarkable opportunity for the children to perform with and hear their music performed by an orchestra. Our project with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra resulted in a CD that received a Grammy nomination. Video,   More info

Everyone Has Something to Say—Programs for Special Needs Children

We believe everyone has something to say–a story to tell.  But, sometimes they don’t have a way to tell it.  Kid Pan Alley has been working with kids profoundly impacted by autism.  Many of them can’t speak.  Working with pictures, communication devices and deep listening, we try to capture their hopes and dreams in an authentic way in song.  Each child has a peer partner from a local school.  We work with those children to develop ways of listening and empathy.  It’s challenging and also some of the most rewarding work we’ve done.  It is amazing to see them on stage participating in a song that they wrote and to see the tears of joy in the eyes of their parents.  We also provide programs for children with a wide variety of special needs.  Video

In addition to our songwriting residency programs, we also offer Stand Up and Be Heard, One Little Song Can Change the World.  It’s a character development/bullying prevention assembly program focusing on respect — respect for each other, the community, the environment and oneself that feature songs written with the children. It’s not adults writing songs about how children should act, but rather a surprisingly sophisticated worldview as seen through the eyes of children. Kids inspiring and empowering kids. 

We offer it as a half day program of a single or back to back concerts as well as a full day program in which the children write extra verses to several songs in the morning and then perform them with us in the afternoon. We also have lesson plans available for each song.

Our new album, One Little Song Can Change the World, features the songs from the program.

Kid Pan Alley offers concerts that range from a solo performer up the the 6-piece Kid Pan Alley Band that includes a horn section featuring John d’Earth who played in the Bruce Hornsby Band for 15 years as well as with Dave Matthews, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones.  

Bouncin’ is a story of four high school friends who struggle to keep their friendship from hitting the rocks during summer break. Just when it looks like they’re done for good, pulled apart in crisis by illness, distance and ego, a stunning revelation about their pasts binds them together not only as friends, but as family.

Our Artistic Director, Paul Reisler, wrote the script as well as writing the songs with the kids.  It's an exciting family musical with songs that will leave you dancing and deeply moved

Interested in bringing a Kid Pan Alley program to your school or community?

Click button to contact us. (Or email us at info@kidpanalley.org or call 540-322-2022.)