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Musician Jeff Dayton visits Hillside Elementary students

Musician Jeff Dayton visited Hillside Elementary during the week of May 16 to teach students about songwriting. Dayton met with fifth grade students to brainstorm song themes. Students worked together to create a tempo and lyrics, based on ideas discussed in class. Dayton worked with each class twice a day to rehearse and fine-tune individual songs. Each classroom created two songs; one written by girls and another written by boys.

“When I work with student songwriters I tell them it’s like building a song with Legos,” Dayton said. “We need your individual ideas and then I put them in a bucket, like Legos and help to create a final product. Sometimes we need a small red square or a long blue rectangle. Every student has a ‘piece’ in the song.”

The week concluded on Friday with a dress rehearsal, “The Hillside Hawks Voice,” before a final concert for parents.

“It’s so much fun watching these kids work together to create something they can call their own. No one can ever take that away from them,” said Diane Bezdicek, Reading Recovery Teacher at Hillside Elementary. “Jeff makes each student feel empowered, respected and included as an equal. In my 25 years in education this music residency has been the highlight of my career!”

Dayton is a songwriter, guitarist and producer from Nashville. He has toured with Kenny Chesney, Lee Greenwood, and 15 years with Hall of Fame member Glen Campbell. Other artists Dayton has backed include Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Buck Owens, Steve Wariner, John Michael Montgomery, Bryan White, Mark Wills and many more.