Kid Pan Alley (KPA) provides group songwriting workshops for children of all ages: inspiring creativity, building confidence, and fostering community. Our professional teaching artists help students give voice to their own stories and listen to each other’s ideas as they work together to create their own song lyrics and melodies.
We are now offering our songwriting programs in a virtual format, giving children (and adults) the opportunity to connect, share, and create during these times of social distancing. Our workshops can be customized to fit the particular approach or audience of any organization - including schools, camps, libraries, museums, community centers, healthcare facilities, and more. We have worked with partners such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Shenandoah National Park, George Mason University, the National Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Film Festival, Stockton Symphony, American Visionary Art Museum and many others.
We'd love to develop a project with you that suits the needs of your community. Find out about some of our programs below.

Kid Pan Alley's teaching artists guide children to create, perform and record their own music. It is their art, and they are proud of it. We often hear kids walking down the hall singing their own songs. Years later, they still remember every word.

How It Works

In a typical Kid Pan Alley workshop, two professional songwriters work with a class or cohort of children for 2 one-hour sessions to write a complete song. The students pick their topic, brainstorm together, and write the lyrics and the melody for their song as a group.  At the end of the workshop, the kids will receive a professional recording of their song and may have the opportunity to perform it at a live or virtual concert, as circumstances permit.

In a weeklong school-based residency, we can work with 8 classes or more. We also provide our workshops through partnerships with community organizations -- from camps to theaters to museums to afterschool programs. We love coming up with special projects that serve the needs of a particular audience or community.

Some of our current partnership programs and themed residencies 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

Please see the tab below for more information about some of these special 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 can work with 200+ children to write original songs. The final day of the workshop is used for rehearsals and performances (in-school assemblies and evening family concerts) -- as circumstances permit.

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 --  featuring 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 concerts, or as a full day program in which the children write with us in the morning and then perform them with us in the afternoon. We also have lesson plans available for each song.

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

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

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