Like most great things, it started with a DOT.
“I have a few fable-tastic connections to FableVision and Peter H. Reynolds, beginning with The Dot Song, explained Emily Arrow, award-winning songwriter and musician behind the Creativity Road Show. “After I wrote and shared The Dot Song with Peter, FableVision Studios created an animated video and I created a motions guide video. We shared our videos to celebrate International Dot Day and the song absolutely took off. But that was just the beginning!”
For this month’s FableFive, we chatted with Emily about the Creativity Road Show, creating music, her new award-winning album, Storytime Singalong, Volume 1, and her tips on bringing creativity, literacy, and music into the classroom.
1) What is your connection to FableVision and Peter H. Reynolds?
Since The Dot Song I’ve created numerous other songs inspired by Peter's books including Ish, Sky Color, and his recently illustrated I am Yoga written by Susan Verde. The Dot Song and the I Am Yoga Song are both on my recently released album, Storytime Singalong, Volume 1. And let's not forget the brand new FableVision Creativity Road Show! Beginning this spring, I'll be visiting schools to read, sing, and celebrate Peter H. Reynolds’s inspiring stories.
2) When you were a teacher, how did you integrate creativity, literacy, and music into the classroom?
I believe children's literature - especially Peter's stories - have an inherent musicality. So I began using stories during my music lessons to teach various skills: rhythm, tone, and performance techniques. And then I took it a step further and began writing specialized songs for the books I loved reading aloud. For example, the song inspired by Peter's ISH invites students to insert their own words to become "ish"-ified. In the song, students fill in the blank with a word of their choosing: "____-ish! Thinking ishly."
3) What is your song writing process and how do you pick your books to write a song about?
My process has evolved along with my career path. From the beginning I've always selected, and will always select, books that personally resonate with me. The first book-inspired song I ever chose was The Dot, which is why it has such a special place in my heart. My favorite stories are ones that make great read-alouds, have unique illustrations, and tell a story I think I can communicate well through song.
4) What’s involved in your songwriting workshops on the Creativity Road Show?
In the songwriting workshop, we write and sing our own song together! Inspired by ideas the students generate, we journey through song form and begin by writing a chorus that's catchy and original. Then we write the verses and bridge by using the notes and suggestions of all of the "songwriters" in the room. It's like writing a story together but set to music. What could be better?
5) What was your favorite book as a kid and have you written a song about it?
What an awesome question, no one has asked me this yet! The first picture book I ever read on my own was Corduroy by Don Freeman and I couldn't get enough. I haven't written a song about it...YET. But I’m planning a series of song/videos inspired by the "classics" of my childhood.