The Music of Star Wars: A Force for Change in Childhood Literacy

October 5, 2017

 

Star Wars Reads Day, is a day to celebrate reading. Sanctioned by Lucas Films, this annual event started in 2012 and occurs at the beginning of October. In just five years, its popularity has exploded across the globe. Millions of Star Wars fans are projected to participate in Reads Day festivities this year.

 

Bookstores, libraries, schools, and even private homes now hold Star Wars Reads Day parties. There is even a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/StarWarsReads) and an official hashtag (#StarWarsReads). According to the Starwars.com website (http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-reads), both the Force for Change Organization and the Starlight Foundation have joined together to bring the event to hospitals around the world. Children can even win a free poster through reading and participating in an official essay contest.

 

It is obvious that the popularity of the Star Wars movies can encourage children and adult fans to read. As a musician, I also knew that the music associated with these films could be a powerful part of these celebrations. As a result, I started performing the Star Wars music at the Manhattan, Kansas Public Library's annual Star Wars Reads Day event. After purchasing the sheet music and the performance rights, my studio and I were able to share our musical gifts with the larger community.

 

To be honest, the experience was a little unusual at first. I generally consider myself a serious musician and I certainly never imagined that I would play the violin while wearing Leia buns on my ears (who knew that they could get in the way of the chin rest?!). 

 

Collegian Media Group Photography

 http://photos.collegianmedia.com/keyword/Katherine%20Okesson/

 

However, once I realized that I had to meet children on their own terms, wearing a funny costume just seemed like a part of my job.

 

 

Not only did we have a blast, but we had the opportunity to help raise awareness for literacy. My students learned to work and perform together. They learned to speak publicly about their instruments and how to use music to reach other people.

 

 

In 2014, I had four people who joined me in performing Star Wars music at the local library. A month ago, I received an email from a mother who had enrolled her two boys in violin lessons because of our performances that day. Her sons are now members of their local youth orchestra and their Boys and Girls Club after school reading program.

 

If you are a musician or a teacher, I'd encourage you to think outside of the box for ways to make a difference. Be silly, be creative, and learn to focus on things that appeal to people. Movies, television, and popular culture can motivate our communities towards important change. Music can and should be a part of that. I hope you will all consider joining your local Star Wars Reads Day events this year.

 

May the Force be with you!

-Dr. O

 

For more information about Star Wars Reads day, check out the following:

 

http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-reads

 

List of National and International events:

http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-reads-day-goes-global-on-october-10

 

Activity Kit to host your own party: 

http://cdnvideo.dolimg.com//cdn_assets/0cae9b2e6449c576ef55bff46f41f4be3ef0f401.pdf

 

 

 

 

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©2018 by Katherine Okesson