We’re teaching songwriting to students in 3rd through 5th grades and they’re writing songs based on their curriculum.
Since our founding in 2012, the I’ll Fly Away Foundation has brought our music program to more than 3,200 students. We worked with a team of experts to create a curriculum that brings songwriting into the classrooms for one hour per day for a week.
In the fall of 2014, the I’ll Fly Away Foundation launched the “You Can Fly” Songwriting program into the 3rd grades of the McDonald County R-1 School District in rural McDonald County, Missouri. Building on the success of the program, the I’ll Fly Away Foundation expanded the songwriting program to the 5th grade as well.
The “You Can Fly” Songwriting Program is more than your normal music program. It not only builds teamwork, it works on the entire writing process from start to finish. The tools we are teaching them will be something that they’ll be using for the rest of their lives. Our songwriter guides them through brainstorming, creating an outline, writing a draft, editing and rewriting. The program proved to be so popular that this past fall 100% attendance was achieved every day the program was in class. One day a little boy cried because he had to leave early.
This process has had tremendous results in both the academic and social lives of the students. Since 2014, we have seen a rise of 3.9% proficiency in Mathematics, 8.1% in Literacy/Reading and 18% in Science. The only difference in their curriculum in this timeframe is the “You Can Fly” Songwriting Program. This increase in proficiency was far above the estimated increase for the district provided by the state of Missouri. The state based their estimate on the demographics of McDonald County.
McDonald County R-1 School District Demographics
- 70% of students live at or below poverty level
- 68% of students are LEP (English is their second language)
- 60% mobility students (will leave or enter the classroom during the school year)
“The ‘You Can Fly’ Songwriting Program has impacted student achievement in McDonald County in a huge way. Our Students have experienced success in the songwriting program that carries over into the assessment program as they use the brainstorming, grammar and vocabulary enhancement strategies they learn in the songwriting sessions to demonstrate proficiency on state assessments.” – Angie Brewer, Assistant Superintendent, McDonald County R-1 School District
The Social Aspect
In our first year we had a shy little girl in one of our classes. Brooklyn sat in the back and hunched down at her desk so we wouldn’t call on her in the songwriting class. Her teacher had discussions with her parents at the parent/teacher conference that Brooklyn needed to speak up more in class and participate more. Through the process of the “You Can Fly” Songwriting program, Brooklyn gained the confidence to speak up more. By the end of our week in her class, she came out of her shell. She was in the front of the video we made and she even did all of the hand movements with the other students. A few weeks later, we returned to the school and the students were going to perform the songs they wrote at the fall festival. Brooklyn’s mother approached us asking what we had done to her daughter. Apparently, her shyness was so bad that she didn’t have any friends. But after the program, she no longer ate lunch alone. She played with the other girls on the playground and was invited to a sleepover. This program changed her life forever.
“One student participating in the program had never traveled outside of McDonald County. Her parents promised her if her grades improved by the end of the school year, they would “take a trip” to the Neosho Walmart (Newton County). Her experience with the songwriting program appears to have increased her level of self esteem allowing her to not only believe in herself but in her academic ability. She achieved her goal and traveled to the Neosho Walmart. For what may appear everyday for us was a giant step for her.” – Mrs. Burnett, Teacher, McDonald County R-1 School District
Your gift is an investment in a child’s future. Gifts of every size provide the support that ensures the future growth of our programing. Your generosity is how we demonstrate to children that we believe in them.
Power of Music Festival