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A Long Lasting Impact on Communities and People

Through the years we've received letters from schools, elders and past students to let us know how the Elders' Wisdom, Children's Song program has affected them. Here are some excerpts.

Elizabeth Hall International School - Minneapolis, MN, 2012

Yesterday's event at Hall School was one for the books!  I felt not only honored, but treasured.  I spent a long time imagining the imprint of the day - as well as the preceding months of the project - on the children.  They are our treasure and each of you helped them to learn that again. With deepest gratitude,

George Roberts
Honored Elder,  Elizabeth Hall International

It was an amazing morning for all of us and by far the most meaningful performance I have been a part of. I too am excited about what it meant for the children. They were wonderful, and I know how much it meant to them by the looks on their faces when they finished.

Rebecca Totzke
Music Specialist, Elizabeth Hall International

Hiawatha Community School - Minneapolis, MN, 2012

Once again we had the privilege of working with Larry Long on the Elder’s Wisdom Celebration Song and once again it was magnificent! Our students get so much out of this program and our parents love it!

Deb Regnier
Principal, Hiawatha Community School

Spearfish, SD 1999

Hi Larry,

There is little to no chance that you remember me, as I was all of 9 years old when we met (I was the rowdy kid who played the piano). That year marked the inaugural year of EWCS in Spearfish, and you worked with my 4th grade class to pen a song in tribute to an effervescent and unforgettable Ms. Louise Smock. Now twelve years afterward, I remember that experience as one of incredible joy and significance, not only for the kids involved but for the entire community.

I am so happy to see that this program not only continues to be a part of my old school, but has also expanded to other Black Hills communities. As reports of recalcitrant youth across the globe fill the nightly news, it's reassuring to know that we in the Black Hills are still teaching our kids to be good people, to appreciate the value of hard work, and perhaps most importantly, to afford our elders the adoration and respect they so deserve. Although I may not have understood the significance at the time, those few weeks we spent hearing stories from Ms. Smock and the subsequent songwriting we did with you were exceptionally memorable and will stay with me throughout my life. In short, as an alumnus of your first year program, I wanted to reach out and say thank you for doing this and for continuing to invest in our community. It means more than you could ever know.

[...] Music remains a huge part of my life and have picked up a number of new instruments and playing styles. Should you find yourself in Boston this year, or China/Singapore next year, bring a guitar and let's play some music! I hope that someday, I can help carry on the EWCS tradition. Until then, hope all is well. Keep up the great work!



St. Louis Park, MN - 2008

Each and every one of us searches for meaning and purpose in our lives. All too often we are so busy with our own fast paced daily existence that we fail to see the beautiful journey we are actually on. It is through these stories that we can understand and put into perspective our shortcomings, our detours and our frustrations. It is through these stories that we can see more clearly our own developing stories of accomplishment, survival and hope.

Larry Long’s Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song program has resurrected a culturally lost art. Our elders have always taught us important lessons about life and our purpose in this world. Somehow modern society has forgotten how to take the time to listen.

Richard A. Erickson, Ph.D.
School Social Worker
St. Louis Park

Birchview Elementary 2011

Hi, Larry.

What a marvelous evening you gave us at Birchview last week! We felt privileged to be there and have shared with many others the wonderful things you did and set in motion for students, teachers and families. Our Nate was SO excited to be part of it and to have the opportunity to read from the histories and to sing with the other students.

You are teaching students many valuable things—respect for elders and their stories; how to use the gifts of writing, memory and music; the sheer JOY it is to celebrate life...and so much more.
Good for you! We'll hope to see you again in another performance somewhere else and have given your information to our daughter whose children are in the St. Louis Park school district.

I hope you can go on and on with your valuable work.



Mr. Sykes Fourth Grade Class,

It was an absolute pleasure to be involved with your program, ELDERS’ WISDOM Children’s Song, at Birchview Elementary School. I was impressed with your ability to translate my life story into song.

As a long time school teacher myself, I was especially impressed with how every one of you in the room participated in the program. Not only were you amazingly well behaved but I could tell by the smiles on your face you were really enjoying it.

You were all given an opportunity to ask me questions as you listened to my story. Each one of you looked me in the eye, shook my hand and thanked me. I appreciated that.

Both you and I were taught important lessons through your special program. I am so happy to see you plant the seeds of respect and diversity in our community.

I am grateful and honored by Sara & Stephanie’s invitation to participate in this delightful program.

Jack Gause

Plymouth MN

We had a fabulous performance at Birchview last Thursday, a real celebration of each elder’s unique journey and contributions to our community. The Elders were touched, our students learned a lot from them (and the process!), and parents were very impressed with the program. Larry is obviously passionate about the work, and very talented, and he has brought that passion to our 4th grade team to continue the work. I am excited about next year! It is a unique and special program.

Jason Wenschlag, Principal

Gibraltar School - 2010

“I would like to thank you again for such a fantastic program.

Many community members, school faculty and parents have let me know that they really loved the community celebration. I have had comments such as "This blew me away I was not sure what to expect but this was wonderful." "The show was so professionally done, so touching and powerful." "This was by far the best show I have ever been to, I really enjoyed it."

... By taking the time to really listen, read and create songs from the interview transcripts students experienced elder's wisdom. This experience and the songs will be forever in the minds of these students. The songs were fun to sing and are the kind of songs you feel great knowing are stuck in your children's head.”

Read full letter

Valley View - 2010

Dear Larry,

Thank you so much for creating a song about my life. I have been sharing it with my family and friends and we have all had a good laugh with it.

Thanks for the memory that I can enjoy for a long time.


Linda Kosloski

Community Celebration of Place: Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song gives students a chance to study genuine, lived history and link it with the life they now experience inside and outside school.

Dr. John E. Shelton
Director of PACERS Small Schools Cooperative, Alabama

When senior members of a community go into schools and talk about their lives and work, and children write songs with Larry Long about what they have learned, they create a remarkable celebration of humanity and hard work.

Dr. Anthony Seeger
Professor of Ethnomusicology, UCLA

Rollingstone Elementary

Dear Larry Long,

I am a former student of Rollingstone Elementary school, a place that much appreciated your work! Recently I was remembering the fabulous times we had when you were there ... I'm now a sophomore in college and I am still singing those songs you wrote way back in the day. The time you spent with us really touched our hearts. I am from the 2nd grade class that went with you to sing at the teachers conference in Brainerd. I am still very close with many of my classmates from that class and these songs we sang are always a happy reminder of where we came from. So I guess I just wanted to say thank you! Every time someone asks me where I am from I can't help but think "Rollingstone my Home".

Thanks again!!!