Students watch as Paul Reisler gathers song ideas from the crowd.
Kid Pan Alley is teaching elementary school students in Staunton how to reach their inner recording star.
Kid Pan Alley is a non-profit group of songwriters and musicians who have learned how to help school children express themselves through words and melody. Group Founder Paul Reisler has co-written 1,700 songs with 30,000 children over past decade.
Students from Bessie Weller Elementary School are joining Reisler and fellow musician Paddy Dougherty for a week-long songwriting project. The professionals coax ideas and thoughts from the youngsters, and help them create lyrical rhymes and fun melodies.
Reisler says the relaxed, free-form class is unlike any other experience for these kids.
"Sometimes you go into a school and they're used to what they have to do in school, which is basically think linearly, sit in their chair and raise their hand," said Reisler. "In order to be creative, your mind has to be really on that verge of chaos."
The students record their songs right in the classroom and they will be compiled onto a compact disc. Some Kid Pan Alley songs have been recorded by artists like Sissy Spacek, Delbert McClinton and Amy Grant. The first audience for the Bessie Weller kids will be their parents, and the community, during a live concert on Friday night.
The Staunton Performing Arts Center landed several grants to bring in Kid Pan Alley as part of their mission to bring the arts to valley children.