Little did Ohio students from Wadsworth High School know, as they finished up an exciting Disney Performing Arts workshop Friday at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort Performance Hall, that the next inspiring words they would hear would come from five-time CMA Vocal Group of the Year Little Big Town (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Philip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook). In a surprise visit that was part of Give a Note Foundation’s 2017 Music In Our Schools Tour, the superstar Country quartet shared their own experiences with music education and the importance of music in the lives of all students. This was the most exciting kickoff event to-date for the now fourth annual Music In Our Schools – Music Inspires Tour. This event, founded by the Give a Note Foundation, an affiliate of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), continues to grow each year thanks to the generosity of contributors such as Disney Performing Arts, Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country, and now the CMA Foundation.

“Music education is a right of every student,” said Fairchild, who also serves on the CMA Foundation Board of Directors. “It helps them develop creativity and self-expression. It builds skills like collaboration and critical thinking that help them succeed in life. For me, my music teacher in high school pushed me out on stage for the very first time to sing a solo, and it changed my life. So I’m very grateful for music education and the power that it had on my career.”

The band’s words of wisdom aligned perfectly with the theme of the workshop, “Disney Sings,” in which students are immersed in a “real world” performance experience and record a portion of a Disney film soundtrack. "I cried when I saw them walk in. I'm a really big Country Music fan, and so they have been some of my idols. I love listening to their music,” said Claire Doyle, choir student at Wadsworth High School.

“Thanks to our generous partners who have worked tirelessly with Give a Note,” said Jane Mell Balek, Give a Note CEO, “the Foundation has been able to bring music into the lives of more students every year. In its five years, Give a Note has provided over $1.2 million in grants to reach more than 45,000 students in underserved communities across the United States. And we cannot wait to see the incredible impact this year’s Music In Our Schools Tour will have.”

“Every year the launch of the Music In Our Schools Tour at Walt Disney World Resort grows bigger and more exciting,’’ said Terry Dola, Disney Performing Arts vice president of group sales and marketing. “It was a thrill of a lifetime for these students to spend time with such an award-winning group such as Little Big Town, and it’s another example of the kinds of extraordinary experiences students receive with Disney Performing Arts.’’

Six schools will receive a $2,500 grant from Give a Note Foundation, which will be matched by the CMA Foundation. Additionally, Radio Disney and Radio Disney Country will join in celebrating the talented students with select hosted performances.

Ramona High School, Riverside, CA

Joliet Central High School, Joliet, IL

Salina South Middle School, Salina, KS

James Otis Elementary School, Boston, MA

Tar River Elementary School, Franklinton, NC

Wenatchee High School, Wenatchee, WA

To learn more about Give a Note Foundation and the Music In Our Schools Tour, visit www.giveanote.org and follow the hashtag #MusicInspires. Be sure to follow the Tour on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.