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The Honey Beats go on: SOFIA project leading to music CD

The Honey Beats
One of the added benefits of Monmouth College’s summer student-faculty research is that it provides education opportunities for the participating students beyond the summer.

Although it ended in August, the three-week program called SOFIA (Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activity), generated projects that continue to challenge and stimulate participants.

The group that worked with educational studies professor Craig Vivian remains busy, as its members attempt to record the children’s music they wrote and performed this summer and distribute it to local schools. They are seeking support for the project through Kickstarter, a web-based crowd funding platform for creative endeavors.

“We have begun a Kickstarter project to raise funds for the music and need as much exposure as possible over the next 20 days to generate interest,” said Vivian. “We played at the Warren County Public Library during the SOFIA session in August, and the response was positive and enthusiastic.”

The Kickstarter site is located at

Vivian and his students – Ross Eugene of Gilberts, Kelsi Ford of Colona, Rachel Maasch and Kylee Winiecki of Des Plaines – recorded five songs as part of the project and distributed CDs to the families that attended. He said the families who attended the performances asked if the group could record more of their songs. The band is called the Honey Beats, a name inspired by Vivian’s work with bee colonies at the college’s Educational Garden.

“I think their project has really been successful at meeting their goal of making quality kids’ music that parents don’t mind hearing, either,” commented MC faculty member Logan Mayfield. “My son loves all their recordings, so we’ve listened to those CDs a lot. I mean A LOT. Even so, I don’t think my wife or I mind hearing them again. There’s not a lot of kids’ music I can say that about.”

“Our goal is to create and distribute family-friendly songs that encourage exploration, creativity and positive interactions with others, as well as an appreciation of nature and the environment,” said Vivian. “The project highlights the collaborative efforts of students and faculty working to create some meaningful music for parents and children and for accounting, biology and music majors to extend themselves and their talents in a liberal arts environment.”

Another example of active SOFIA students is a group made up of junior Kayla Westfall of Galesburg and freshmen Dario Fuller of Villa Park and Corey Pearson of Grayslake. The three students, who worked under the direction of visiting assistant professor of history Christine Myers, present their research at the Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Annual Conference in St. Louis earlier this month. Their paper is titled “Spying on the Spies: Digital Collaboration & Research on ‘Scarecrow and Mrs. King.’”

The fourth member of the project, junior Carolyn Stowe of Plainfield, is currently studying for the semester in Perth, Scotland, and was not able to join the group, but she did help write the paper before she left and has provided feedback on the presentation from Scotland.