Arts-Integrated Residencies

for your elementary school


Preposterous Parodies!

Customized Arts-Integrated Residencies for your school

Grades: 3-5
Length: 3-6 days
Administered through Young Audiences

Left: Alden works with students at Emma K Doub Elementary School.

Alden is a 2008 graduate of the Teaching Artists Institute

Left: Grade 3 students have written their parody of "Shut Up and Dance With Me" by Walk the Moon, and we're doing our final revision together, in my arts-integrated songwriting residency. They were studying the myth of Arachne. They brilliantly changed the line:

"This woman is my destiny..."


"Athena's filled with jealousy..."

Words of praise for Alden’s performances and residencies

“Mr. Phelps did a really great job of involving the students in his performance. They were engaged throughout.”

                                      - Maree Garnett Farring Elementary School


                                      -Van Bokkelen Elementary School

“Thank you so much for the wonderful writing experience. The students and I enjoyed it very much!”

                                      - grade 3 teacher, Westbrook Elementary School

“Thank you for letting me play the parody of “Rolling in Deep” on the guitar with you! I wish I could have you again as an artist in residence.”

                                      - student, Westbrook Elementary School

“All our educational objectives were fulfilled!”

                                       - grade 4 teacher at Tunbridge Public Charter School

“The best arts-integrated lesson I’ve had yet!”

                                        - grade 4 teacher at Havre de Grace Elementary school

“I lerend allote!”

                                      - thank you note from elementary school residency student

Teaching Artists Institute graduate Alden Phelps performs his hilarious language-centered program Word Play for your students, then teaches them to create their own songs or parodies of famous songs.  

Students love to create parodies, and the ability to use parody indicates a strong conceptual understanding. This residency combines elements of Language Arts with your desired curriculum focus, such as History, Social Studies, or Math. Alden helps students create their own parodies, and through guided practice helps students understand rhyme structure and scheme, demonstrating basic rules of song writing. Students will connect creatively with the curriculum through language arts and music to foster deeper understanding.

Contact Young Audiences of Maryland for further information.

See lyrics of some residency parody songs


YA artists and teachers get SMART about arts integration
By Alden Phelps, YA artist, songwriter, and musician

Young Audiences’ SMART Program helps improve student achievement in reading and math through the arts by providing sustained professional development services to teachers using arts-integrated teaching techniques. Young Audiences staff and master teaching artists help teachers use the arts as a tool to infuse multi-sensory lessons into the curriculum to reach all students. SMART serves students at all Harford County Title I elementary schools, including William Paca/Old Post Road, Magnolia, Hall’s Crossroads, George D. Lisby, and Havre de Grace.

YA artist Alden Phelps worked alongside Harford County teachers as a part of the SMART Program this fall.

This month at William Paca/Old Post Elementary, I led a songwriting workshop with a fourth-grade class. The students were studying the water cycle in science and we worked to summarize the topic by writing a song. After I explained to the class what we were going to do, I asked the teacher to help me write the first verse of our song. The teacher became flustered—she had never written a song and did not know much about music. But after breaking my process down into steps, such as counting the beats in a measure and fitting syllables to those beats, she realized that it wasn't going to be hard, it was going to be fun! The class learned the steps by watching the two of us write the first verse and helped us complete the song. By the end of class we had written a great educational song about the water cycle. It happens again and again at SMART—using the arts opens a window for creative thinking and allows wonderful things to happen.

Alden Phelps works with George D. Lisby Elementary students in October. The heart of the SMART program is to bring the arts into the classroom by training teachers in how to use arts integration techniques across all subject areas. Arts integration is a unique way for students to learn, allowing them to show their understanding of the curriculum by using artistic skills.

These lessons teach more than the arts—students are creating art about the subjects that they are learning in class. Something as technical as the earth’s natural resources in science class is transformed into a compelling song. This exercise allows students to think with both sides of their brain. They connect ideas, showing their understanding of the science concept while pondering how this concept fits into their world.

The SMART Program is beneficial to students in the classroom but it is also designed to be a professional development resource for teachers to learn how to use arts integration in all subjects. Teachers can’t always have a professional artist in the classroom, but with the knowledge and confidence they gain they can use the arts in every subject area to engage their students.

Helping teachers use arts integration is fun—they’re always excited about new teaching strategies. Once an artist opens that little "black box” with the secrets of their art form, a light bulb goes off for teachers and they think to themselves, “I can do this!” There are plenty of simple artistic skills that anyone can practice and teach, like drawing different kinds of lines, speaking in rhythm, or writing rhymes.

For me it is a privilege to be a part of the SMART Program because I have gotten to know great teachers and spend time in the classroom. I’ve learned so much from my classroom teacher partners and from the Young Audiences master teaching artist mentors working in each of the schools. To me the perfect collaboration is between a teacher and a teaching artist. With their combined gifts a classroom is transformed.


Alden was featured in the October 2012 Young Audiences Newsletter:

“Henry in our class did this math parody….we still need to work on the content but I thought I would share:  

(see youtube video on right)

Also my class has been so obsessed with writing math raps, songs, and parodies that we now have a scheduled day of the week as performance day. The kids called it Portable Idol or Kids Factor and they have a rubric for Lily and I to use to judge them. Thanks for awakening their musical creative side J”

-K. Mitchell, grade 3 teacher, Montgomery County

“How wonderful to know your time there is having such an lasting impact and continuing to inspire these students! That is definitely the best residency possible. Much appreciation for your work!”

-Chris Stewart, Maryland State Arts Council’s Artists-in-Education Director

Read parodies that students have written with Alden

Lyrics written by students in grades 2-5 in my Preposterous Parodies residency

“Awesome, active engagement from all students. Every student had a part/job to do. Alden was fantastic! He challenged and motivated every student in a fun and meaningful way.”

-Ms L. Cravey, Grade 3 teacher, Emma K Doub Elementary School

Video below: new parody by third graders of One Direction’s “Drag Me Down,” rewritten about the myth of Echo and Narcissus. One favorite line: “All her life, she was blabbing, Echo was cursed because her lips were flapping...”