Learning with music:

A R T I S T  ~ i n ~  R E S I D E N C Y

Ellen Whyte

Artist in Residency

Ellen has developed an age appropriate curriculum (grades K-12) on a variety of subjects, paired with music, and has taught several versions of the content for children in multiple schools.

One of her specialties is teaching the history and evolution of American music from the Pre Civil War to the Civil Rights movement. She begins with introducing students to African story-telling, music, and culture. Audio, visual, and PowerPoint presentations are used to introduce and help demonstrate the progression of styles of music. She instructs and collaborates with students in songwriting by assisting them in developing themes and ideas based on academic subject matter to create original songs.

The culmination of the experience is a community performance of the students singing their songs. To date, over 150 original songs have been written by students working with Ellen.


Over the past seven years, Ellen has worked with:

  •  Damascus Christian School (2020)
  •  Estacada Middle School (2019)
  •  Damascus Christian School (2019)
  • Carus Elementary School (2010, 2012, 2018 & 2019)
  • Mt Pleasant Elementary School (2012)
  • Ackerman Academy (2013 and 2015)
  • Estacada Middle School (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
  • Oregon Trail Academy (2015 & 2016)
  • Jackson Prep Alternative High School (2017 & 2018))
  • Roosevelt High School (2017 & 2019)
  • Road To Success Alternative High School (2017)
  • Oregon City Service Learning Academy (2018)

TAKE AWAY of working with Ellen:

This program is a high caliber engaging, creative, and rewarding experience bringing together:

  • Team and confidence building, engaging the students in the creative process of learning
  • Increased knowledge and creative collaboration in the subject matter
  • Emphasis on social studies, geography, language arts, and music
  • Artistic and academic development in a positive partnership for students and teachers

Ellen has won multiple awards, including induction into the 2015 Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

For more info
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Description of Residencies:

As a working musician in Oregon for the past 35 years, I very much appreciate the opportunity to work in the schools. I believe I have something to share based on my lifelong experience with music and performance arts.  See more

During these residencies, students become involved through highly interactive "hands on" experiences, as they learn about the roots of American/African music. They are introduced to a variety of musical styles, from Blues to modern contemporary music. Students are exposed to learning about the artists who penned and made the music popular, and the reasons for its popularity. Multiple video and audio examples are presented.

I begin with the history. The historical timeframe from the Civil War to Civil Rights includes a brief outline of the different eras, along with musical styles of the times. This music has become the "sound track" of our lives, and the historical background tells the story. We explore multiple genres while investigating the key issues relating to the development of each time period's music.

African culture has a deep connection to the music of the United States. We will trace the roots of our music history to that of African music. This exciting culture has a rich legacy of storytelling, rhythms, celebrations of rites of passages--all relating to the integration of music in the culture. A variety of visual and audio examples is presented to illustrate these components.

The next step in the residency is songwriting. The students and I work collaboratively to determine a historical time frame and themes to write within the songs. This is a very exciting opportunity for students to see music history and its relevance to their lives. We discuss the process of songwriting, brainstorm ideas, create lyrics that present the themes and structure the music to fit the lyrics. Once the songs are completed the students learn them and perform them in a community presentation.

I am open to customizing my curricula to meet the needs of the students, the school, and the budget.

For further information, contact me.

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Oregon Trail Academy
Artist in Residence 2017

Some Kudos:
YouTube video of Residency experience
Letter of Recommendation from the Principal

Estacada School District
Artist in Residence 2014

Senior High Concert Choir debuts an original composition written by Ellen and her husband John Mullin. Choral arrangement by Glenn Holstrom.

Some Kudos:
Letter from Estacada Together
News Article

Carus Elementary School
Artist in Residence 2010 & 2013

Grades K-6 (13 classes) learned about the Roots of Blues Music, as well as wrote and performed their own blues song.

Here is a 4+ minute Documentary of the process from start to performance.

Some Kudos:
Letter from the Principal
Letter from one of the teachers
Song by the 1st-2nd graders The Magic Pond

Mt. Pleasant Elementary School
Artist in Residence 2009

Some Kudos:
Letter from one of the teachers

Ackerman Academy School
Artist in Residence 2008

Some Kudos:
Letter from the Principal
Letter from one of the teachers
Letter from one of the teachers
Letter from one of the teachers


Many of the images on this site were taken by fans, but some were taken by professionals. To give them credit, here they are listed and you can check them out at their web sites.

Frank DeSantis
Karylee Harrison
Susan Thorsen
Greg Johnson
Bobby Pallotta (for the Bacon Song)
Charles Ryan II Photography