Northview was very fortunate to host award-winning singer/songwriter, Emily Arrow, from Nashville, Tennessee, for three daytime concerts and an evening community concert. As part of this district-wide event, students and staff from all three of our elementary schools -- East Oakview, North Oakview and West Oakview -- came together for grade-level specific concerts at our High School Performing Arts Center. Emily performed for 1,200 students during the day, and another 400 fans at her evening concert.
I am extremely fortunate to be a part of an amazing Teacher Librarian team at Northview. My colleagues, Kurt Stroh, Leah Pietrusza and I, began planning this event just under a year ago. This event was truly a collaborative event, and I’m so very thankful that I get to work with these dedicated educators, who I consider both colleagues and friends.
We were also lucky to have Teacher Librarian extraordinaire, fellow Book Nerd and friend, Kathy Burnette, join us for the day!
From the beginning of the school year, we had been preparing for Emily Arrow’s visit on March 29. This included celebrating Emily’s music and reading aloud the books her songs are based on during library classes, incorporating her music into activities at our Family Literacy Nights, and having classroom teachers use her music and YouTube videos in their classrooms.
In the weeks leading up to her visit, we celebrated at school with a special count down bulletin board.
Students worked to create a welcome banner, and arrows to encourage concert-goers to “Follow Their Arrow” to see Emily Arrow’s performance!
We also knew Emily Arrow would need lots of water to help her singing voice for such a busy day, so we created water bottles just for her!
It seemed like such a long wait, but as we found out with the first strum of her ukelele on March 29, it was well worth it! Emily Arrow not only lived up to the hype and excitement that had been created, but far surpassed our wildest expectations.
Emily played lots of crowd favorites, including THE DOT, THE CURIOUS GARDEN, and even sported her “Louise glasses” for LOUISE LOVES ART!
The entire audience at each show was engaged with her music, and sang right along with Emily Arrow as she played her ukulele "Bow" and her trademark big blue kazoo. Students and staff all knew the motions to her songs, and weren't afraid to jump right in!
One of the most moving moments of the day was hearing the voices of 400 3rd and 4th grade students singing Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s I WISH YOU MORE along with Emily Arrow. Many of us in the auditorium were moved to tears.
We had quite a few staff members dress in striped shirts and pinned-on red hearts, a nod to Dennis from Salina Yoon’s BE A FRIEND. During her performances of that song, Emily invited those staff members onto the stage to “mime along” with her!
After each of the 3 daytime concerts, Emily Arrow graciously signed CDs and kazoos for her young fans who had pre-ordered them.
The fun continued into the night, as we had over 400 Emily Arrow fans in attendance at her evening performance. From toddlers to grandparents, and every age and stage in between, families had fun singing and interacting with Emily Arrow's music.
As a special surprise, Emily Arrow's 2nd CD, Storytime Singalong Volume 2, was made available for the first time anywhere at our Northview concert that night!
Families eagerly waited in a long line after her show to get their new CDs or kazoos signed.
We were also very lucky to have three author/illustrators join us as special guests that night! Aaron Zenz (MONSTERS GO NIGHT-NIGHT), Laurie Keller (WE ARE GROWING) and Deb Pilutti (BEAR AND SQUIRREL ARE FRIENDS...YES, REALLY!) all had a chance to hear Emily perform that night, and meet her after the concert. It was an awesome experience to see creators who admire and respect one another meet, and share their appreciation for each other’s work!
The entire day, start to finish, was absolutely amazing. Emily Arrow is an incredibly talented, kind, genuine, passionate individual, and my life was made infinitely richer by spending the day with her. I know the students, staff and families of Northview feel very much the same way.
After the concert, one student's comment said it all: "I wish I could have this night just happen over and over and over."
Some days truly are magical.
Many thanks to everyone who helped make this day possible, especially Mike Frank at the Northview High School Performing Arts Center and funding from the Northview Education Foundation.
Emily Arrow creates songs based on well-loved children's books, and has won awards, including the 2015 John Lennon Songwriting Contest and a National Parenting Product Award. She is also is featured on regular rotation on Sirius XM Radio's Kids Place Live. She currently has 2 CDs available, Storytime Singalong Volume 1 & 2 and has created numerous interactive videos of her songs that are available on YouTube. Emily Arrow also hosts interactive Facebook Live performances most Sunday nights at 6:30pm EST. If you are interested in ordering either of her CDs or other merchandise, visit her website at www.emilyarrow.com.
Carrie Davies is a preK-4th grade teacher-librarian from Grand Rapids, MI. You can follow her on Twitter at @readwithdavies .