The I’ll Fly Away Foundation, founded in 2011 by Betsy Brumley-Bernier and Kevin Bernier, was created to support music in our communities. Improving lives through music is our mission. Music is the heartbeat of a community. We use songwriting as our medium. Songwriting gives us insight into a person’s mind by offering a different form of communication and allows them to express emotions they may not be able to verbalize. We started in the schools because our children are the future of our communities and by instilling our children with positive values now we can shape the character of our future community through music and with music, it all begins with a song.
Our You Can Fly Songwriting Program is conducted at the elementary level and teaches the fundamentals of songwriting such as rhyme and rhythm as well as all the aspects of writing: brainstorming, writing, re-writing and editing. Each class has a professional songwriter to guide the students as the class works as a team to compose songs about what they are studying in their classroom. Through our school songwriting programs, non-traditional approaches help learners of varying developmental levels use their own creativity through songwriting to connect themselves through song. The songwriting taps into a new set of skills. They gain confidence, self-esteem, tolerance and empathy. Evidence shows an overall improvement in student attendance, improved grades and tolerance and empathy in class and social situations.
Music produces an active learning experience for the students thus creating a soundtrack for them to access as well as process the information being taught. This soundtrack increases interest and helps children activate the information mentally, physically and emotionally. The music in this format guides students towards highly focused learning states at which material can be absorbed at a greater rate with greater connectivity and awareness. The brain retains information in song form longer than just memorizing. i.e. Conjunction Junction or I’m Just A Bill. (Source: School House Rock 1977)
Our songwriting program allows the students to be the authors of their own soundtrack. By tailoring the information to each classroom and putting a rhyme and rhythm to the class’s curriculum, the students provide their own hook for recall and better retention.
By songwriting as a whole class, we are providing an environment that enhances student interaction and help develop a sense of community, inclusion and cooperation thus the songwriting program becomes a tool for the students to understand and bond with each other.
Over the last 3 years we have written close to 100 unique songs with over 2,000 3rd and 5th graders in Missouri and Oklahoma. We spent 3 years in smaller schools tweaking the program so it would be duplicateable and sustainable giving the program flexibility for larger school systems as well as the ability to expand beyond our area. Bentonville schools system has expressed interest in the program as well as schools within our state and in other states. We want to start here in our local region before we expand to other regions. Benton and Washington County has 15,000 3rd and 5th grade students.
For more information visit the I’ll Fly Away Foundation at www.illflyawayfoundation.org