Davenport’s McKinley School makes music with message

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Fifth grader Amanda Pai is getting into the groove.

"I saw a lot of people just have fun," she said.

That's because her classmates at McKinley School in Davenport are writing a song in just 45 minutes.

"It was cool to know that you helped to make a song," said fellow fifth grader Brogan Swanson.

Writer and singer James Hersch has a way to help kids relax and create.

"Their faces tell me that I'm getting through to them," he said.

The Minnesota-based visiting artist is spending the week at the school. He takes their words and turns them into tunes.

Music, he says, is a straight path to their hearts.

"Some of them really respond to the idea that music can tell their story," he said.

And their story is about a world that's better. McKinley School regularly uses the arts in its academics.

"You listen to it," Swanson said. "It helps you with what you're learning."

These words weave into music. Messages about positive behavior that fit a school theme.

"They don't even need to be musicians to be songwriters," Hersch said. "They're just telling the story and doing it in a fun way."

Creative work that hits just the right notes with kids. McKinley students will share their songs on Friday at the school.

"To know that you did it," Swanson said. "Other people can enjoy it, too."

"It was pretty cool," Pai concluded.

Cool tunes from a talented troubadour and his songwriting students at McKinley School.