Stories to Song
Stories to Songs is a powerful oral history project that engages elders in rural communities with middle and high school students in a process called collective songwriting. The process involves students interviewing elders and then writing songs based on those elders’ stories. The project develops critical thinking and learning skills and engages students in a community building experience that develops deep community bonds. It enhances student learning, addresses problem solving skills through the arts and nurtures creativity and culture awareness through a powerful learning experience. Elders are valued and given an opportunity to meet and share with students, in a relaxed setting, important memories in their life.
The program is facilitied by artist-in-residence, Aaron Fowler, of Wichita. Fowler, through the nonprofit organization, Sing It Out, INC, travels across the nation conducting this program in rural communities each year.
In 2022, we partnered with Mrs. Peggy Eland, now retired Hoxie High School English Teacher, to conducted the program for the first time in Sheridan County. Six community elders were interviewed. View their songs by Mrs. Eland’s English classes, including Harry Joe Pratt, Linda Frazey, Ruth Pieschl, David Leopold, Ed Heim, and Marcella “Sally” Cameron, all of Hoxie.
During the week, the students learned the mechanics of songwriting, including the poetry and writing structures of lyrics as well as the musical composition components, culiminating in a public performance of their original compositions inspired by the stories shared by their respective community elder.