It was Monday morning before it dawned on me I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into. But at that point it was too late to do anything but face the music!
It was September 2015, my third year booking an Artist Residency at Ecole Central School. The two years previous I had taught slam poetry. I called the principal on Thursday, just to let her know my flight was getting in on Sunday and I'd be there bright eyed and bushy tailed Monday morning. Almost as an afterthought I said, “you still want to do slam poetry?” “Why…what else do you do?” she asked.
I started telling her I offered songwriting sessions and video production and she cut me off and asked, “could you write a song that involved all 360 students in the school and make a video about the process?”
“Oh sure, no problem” I said, thinking 100% about how I needed this gig to make enough money for rent and utilities. I didn’t really give it another thought until that moment, Monday morning as I was walking up to the school and it was too late to do anything but put a smile on my face and walk through the doors like I owned the place.
That week changed my life. I’d been a professional songwriter, music producer and performer for 7 years at that point…and I needed to draw every single experience as a songwriter, performer, videographer, event producer and motivational speaker to make that week work. I wrote Change le Monde/Change the World, involving 360 students in the process. We brainstormed lyrics, rehearsed, came up with ideas for the video. Everyone from the lil kindies to the 'too-cool-for-school' Grade 6’s were involved. We spent the week working up to the assembly in the gym on Friday afternoon where we got together to perform and record our new song.
It was deafening. It was bedlam normally reserved for AC/DC concerts. It was amazing! A center aisle had been left open so that a number of students could dance through the crowd inspired by ‘Soul Train.’ Between one take and the next the vice principal rushed up to me and said, “do you think the teachers should dance as well?”
Of course they should!
The students loved it. The teachers loved it. When I uploaded the edited video to YouTube, moms, dads, grandparents and the rest of the city LOVED it. CLICK HERE and maybe you'll love it too!
That’s where Songs For Schools started. In the hallways, classrooms and playgrounds where values like kindness, patience, forgiveness, friendship and school spirit are made real. Where students work out the best versions of themselves.
Can you imagine how much fun your school would have if you were given an opportunity like that?
Over the years I’ve heard the same discouraging story told in school after school. They don't have a music teacher. Or they don’t have a music program. Or there aren’t any resources, instruments or opportunities. Most heartbreaking to me is when I meet a passionate teacher who admits they haven’t been able to find quality resources that inspire their students.
One of the best things about Songs For Schools is that these songs were written with over 60,000 students. From English, French Immersion and Indigenous schools. Songs like “Sets’ani. Sets’ani is a Dene Yati word from K’atl’odeeche First Nation that means, Be a Friend. It became a powerful anti-bullying song that has grown into a favourite in schools across Canada.
These songs sing about themes that are important to students and staff. As a professional songwriter it’s my strength to be able to write catchy, singable and danceable anthems. But the ideas. The values. The hopes and dreams…that’s the part that comes from conversations with the students. Please contact me if you’d like information on how this program could empower students in your school.
One superintendent from northern Canada booked a 3 week tour so I could travel to all of the schools in his district to kick off the school year. When the tour was over he wrote to me to say, “You inspired our youth and helped feed their creative spirits. Who could ask for more?”
But it's not just about catchy tunes and entertaining actions. Songs for Schools offers a treasure trove of resources to bring your lessons to life.
10 professionally produced songs. 40 high res 4K videos. Lyric/Chord Charts. A Copyright License so your school can use these songs in other projects.
There are 10 Story Behind the Song videos. These behind the scenes are ideal for K-G3 primary students, who love stories (and can listen to them again and again and again) These videos add context and greater meaning to the songs themselves.
There are 10 lyric videos. The music was professionally recorded, mixed and mastered, and the videos are professionally produced high res 4K quality. The music was actually produced specifically to sound best through the bluetooth speakers and smart boards most classrooms use.
There are 10 tutorial videos that show students how to play each of the songs on ukulele. These instructional videos are particularly powerful when used with the lyric and chord charts, and ideal for use in music classes with intermediate G4-6 students.
Many songs have actions, like Solid Figures, that teach students about shapes and the Awesome Song, possibly the most inspiring song you’ve ever heard a school sing!
These songs have an impact that goes far beyond entertainment by reinforcing the values teachers are already investing in like honesty, kindness and respect. These songs just give those lessons melodies and opportunities to sing together, to reinforce the values through song and dance.
The LIVE bonus videos capture the excitement that is created when a school comes together to create something bigger and better than anyone could on their own.
If you’re still undecided, you can try a sample for FREE right now! There are 3 songs, 12 videos and lyric/chord charts you can try out. Play them for your students. Teach them how to play the songs on ukulele. If you love the resources as much as I think you will, the entire Songs For Schools, Volume 1 is on sale now for just $97. One time payment.
And just one final word…if after 30 days you’re not 100% satisfied, just let me know and I’ll be happy to refund you 100% of your money. I want this journey to be risk-free for you and your students. If you have any questions contact me through my website at https://rikleaf.com Or you can find me online on my YouTube channel, Instagram, LinkedIn or Tribe of One Facebook
A meme inspired my entire career...
"Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger"
And that's how I got here. 20 years into a career creating a safe and supportive space for students to step out of their comfort zone so they can experience the magic of finding their voice.
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