Last week, local students at R.S. Payne Elementary took part in Kids Out Loud. The program is a songwriting program led by singers/songwriters Kathy Hussey and Paddy Braunstein, who teach children song structure, rhyme scheme, and collaboration. Over the course of five days, the children brainstorm, write a song, rehearse, and perform their songs in a school-wide concert. Thanks to our main sponsor, The Bank of the James, students at R.S. Payne Elementary got the opportunity to partake in this wonderful, inspiring program.
Since they joined the Kids Out Loud program in 2012, Hussey and Braunstein have helped around 3,000 children collaborate with classmates to write a total of 100 songs. This past week, eight classes of students in third and fifth grades worked together to write original songs like “I Have a Secret,” “Leave Me Alone,” and “A Gem of a Friend.”
This past week, Kathy Hussey noticed how well these students grasp metaphor. In “A Gem of a Friend,” students compare friendship to stones and jewels: “A valuable friendship can be hard to see / You have to dig down to where it’s unique / You’re the most beautiful jewel in the cave / To find you in there, I had to be brave.”
The song “Get a Life” talks about an encounter with a bully. After being pushed around, the bully says harshly, “Get a life,” to which the bullied child replies “I decided I would take your advice / You didn’t know you were actually being nice / So I’ll take classes and work hard at school / Then we’ll see who’s cool.”
Hussey and Braunstein value their time with these children. Each class is as different as the songs they come up with. They are amazed at their creativity and their understanding of collaboration. Hussey said, “The kids see that each idea inspires another, and that all of their ideas are important. Seeing kids who feel like they have no voice are inspired to give input in writing a song from scratch.”
The Academy’s Community Outreach provides a creative outlet for those in our community to engage with the arts and its benefits. Contributions from the Genworth Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, and the Bank of the James allow us to inspire children through Kids Out Loud.