Free to Be…You and Me
The project’s purpose was to address the issues in our schools and beyond our district such as bullying, acceptance, and gender equality through music and theater. We wanted elementary age students to be able to relate to the stories in Marlo Thomas’ musical collection of stories; Free to Be…You and Me and using these social issues they might be dealing with through music. We chose Marlo Thomas’ musical collection of stories; Free To Be…You And Me for several reasons. Our district was flooded with mental health issues, a recent suicide and social media bullying. Our history teacher also recognized that the LGBQT community needed a safe zone and so he reinstated a Gender Sexual Alliance. The Marlo Thomas 1974 musical themes still ring strong in 2018. The entire Cedar Grove High School Music and Drama Department rehearsed the musical and then CGHS Music Matters helped organize a tour to five different schools. We collaborated with the Cedar Grove Education Association, Administration, the Board of Education. Faculty, Staff, and community members to bring this musical on tour. The CGEA received a PRIDE Community Organizing Event Grant in order to pay for the rights and royalties of the published musical. The parent boosters from CGHS Music Matters organized a caravan to transport our musical equipment and instruments to each tour location. Our principal and Board of Education paid for our tour t-shirts and buses for our music and drama students. The students and faculty worked together to formulate questions to lead a talk-back after each performance and the parent booster members organized a bake sale after our final community performance. CGHS Music Matters also provided a copy of the Free To Be…You and Me text, CD and DVD to each school we toured to. This enabled the elementary music teacher in each school to teach some of the music to their students before the performance. The concept of My Three Words was a year-long theme that the CGHS Music Department and CGHS Music Matters Group carried throughout each event and performance. The theme of three words that give hope, strength, confidence, advice, or what your values are. Free To Be…You and Me truly brought our music department together and we could not have done it without our CGHS Music Matters group.
Overview of planning and execution process for this project
In July and August we created lesson plans to share with schools that might be interested in having our tour performance. These plans were sent through Google Drive to the local principals to be shared with their staff. A letter was included that explained the project, the performance and possible dates for our tour.
In September 2017 we began rehearsing the vocals of the musical in choir classes, the scenes in drama class and the accompaniment in band class. We incorporated the music into lesson planning once a week. We also sent the lesson plans and copies of Free To Be You and Me to each school that we were touring to.
In January 2018-March 2018 we rehearsed more intensely each day and prepared for our touring performances during Music In Our Schools Month (March). We solidified dates for our tour and confirmed busing. Our principal used his fund to ?nance the two busses and also our tour T-shirts.
March 17-18-20-22, 2018: We toured to North End Elementary School, South End Elementary School (Cedar Grove, NJ) Verona Elementary Schools (Forest Elementary and Laning Elementary), Katharine D. Malone Elementary in Rockaway, NJ and a ?nal community performance at Cedar Grove High School on March 22 at 7 PM. We had a reception sponsored by the Cedar Grove Education Association and hosted by Cedar Grove High School Music Matters.
Another link to materials and documents:
Sponsors/charities/volunteers/ other groups involved in the project and the benefits to each.
- New Jersey Education Association PRIDE: Community Organizing Grant Program
- Cedar Grove Education Association
- Cedar Grove High School Music Matters
- Cedar Grove High School Rick Mangili: Principal fund for T-shirts and busing
- St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital: Final performance donations to go to St. Jude’s
Specific Budget Breakdown
- We had to apply for the rights to Free To Be You and Me from the Rodgers and Hammerstein library. Once we had the quote, we applied for the grant.
- Rental Materials for Free To Be You and Me: $420
- Royalty: $525
- Performance fees: $525
- Total: $1,545.00
- Custom Ink T-shirts: $632.14 paid by our principal fund
- Bus Transportation: $1,355.00