You’ve Got to Accentuate the Positive: Campers Learn to Write Songs


Panther music campers are learning to write songs this summer.

Led by Miami educators and FIU alumni, campers explore the art of songwriting and are introduced to the songs of the Great American Songbook through The Johnny Mercer Foundation’s lyric writing program. At the heart of the program is Accentuate the Positive, a student activity guide that explains how a song is born, how music and lyrics are conceived and written and how these songs reflect our passions and ideals. Accentuate the Positive is currently being used throughout the country in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, and Miami schools.

And now, it’s being used in the FIU School of Music’s Panther Summer Music Camp.

Over 130 music campers are busy exploring concepts like melody writing, harmony, chord theory, modal tonalities, complex rhythms, and more this summer.

“I’m having so much fun! I’m learning to make my own pop music!” exclaimed Evelyn, one of the younger campers.

An iconic songwriter and lyricist, Johnny Mercer’s work provides an exemplary framework for deepening cultural awareness of the great American song tradition while providing cross-cultural connections to the rich diversity found in South Florida. Mercer’s own history of collaboration with over 300 artists serve as a model leading to curricular innovation where students develop critical skills and learn in cooperative ways.

Songwriting programs link music to literacy development, aiding students’ artistic growth, and enriching second language acquisition.


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