Music, Mickey, and Making a Difference for Students

How Give a Note Made a Difference at a Florida School

Teacher Sondra Collins Describes Shady Hill Elementary’s Music In Our Schools Tour Experience 

Shady Hill Elementary School in Ocala, Florida, was the first stop in the third annual Give a Note Foundation Music In Our Schools Tour. This year, thanks to the generosity of Radio Disney, the tour had its farthest reach to date. And Radio Disney will once again join Give a Note for the 2017 Music In Our Schools Tour—competition to be part of the fourth Tour is now underway (with November 10 being the deadline to enter).

Read what music educator Sondra A.W. Collins has to say about the impact the grant and Tour stop has had on her school’s music program.

What inspired you and your students to enter the competition to be part of the 2016 Music In Our Schools Tour?

Days before the deadline, I had an idea. The grant application said to create a video of my students performing “music that inspires.” While a great application idea, it certainly was a generic statement. What would they want to see? How could we show inspiration? How exactly do we do this all in 60 seconds or less?!

And then it hit me—our new Buddy Bench!

What could be more inspirational than a place for students to go when they feel alone, so that others can see them and invite them to join? And a song we already had in our arsenal from earlier this year had lyrics that fit like a glove: “You can count on me like 1, 2, 3, and I’ll be there . . . ” The day before the application was due, we recorded our video and put it together in one afternoon. And the rest is history.

What impact has the grant had on your music program?

Shady Hill Elementary was overjoyed to be the Southern Division recipient of this awesome free concert, grant, and award. This award, grant, and free concert could not have come at a better time, with this being our first year back of full-time music education in Marion county, Florida, after many years of part-time elementary music education. It was a wonderful way to celebrate this new “re-birth” of music education here in Marion County Public Schools, and we couldn’t have been prouder to celebrate it in this way.

Tell us about the tour stop experience with Give a Note Foundation and Radio Disney. What was your students’ favorite part? What did that mean for you, your students, and your school?

The day of our concert the one thing I remember stressing the most to my students is that when Carson Lueders (the Radio Disney artist who performed for us) comes to meet them, the last thing they need to do is scream and lose their minds. First of all, they were about to sing on stage in front of a huge audience, so we needed to think about our voices. And second, I wasn’t completely sure that I could keep 65 completely riled up students contained enough to even be safe, let alone ready to perform.

“Whatever you do, when Carson walks in, there is NO NEED to scream and get all crazy,” I reminded them more than once. And then, with just a few short minutes before we go on, Carson walks in and what happens? I’m sure you all can answer that for yourselves.

Though meeting Carson was a highlight, my students’ favorite part of winning this award would best be answered as, “All of it!” They loved meeting a star, they loved performing in a concert for our entire community, they loved receiving our grant money and walking in to a slew of new instruments to play this school year, and they loved getting that ARDY award with our name on it.

Where do you want to go from here with your music program?

My students and I can both attest to our winning being one the biggest things to happen to us during the 2015-16 school year. We have built our music program’s instrument collection with the grant funds, so that every student in every music class has the opportunity to play an instrument. Also, with the building of our instrumentarium, we have been able to also build our our performing ensemble, The Shady Hill Harmony, as well as the depth and breadth of music we perform.

Our sincerest thanks and deepest gratitude go out to the Give a Note Foundation and Radio Disney, not only for the grant, award, and concert, but also for the continued effort to raise awareness about the importance of music education for all our students in this country. We are so very, eternally grateful.

What would you say to teachers thinking about entering the competition to be part of the 2017 Music In Our Schools Tour?

To those who are considering applying to this competition for the 2017 Music in our Schools Tour—I only have one thing to say: Watch out—you’ll have Shady Hill Elementary and The Shady Hill Harmony to compete with!

Shady Hill Elementary’s 2016 MIOS Tour Winning Video from NAfME on Vimeo.




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