Strawbitty Yops: Nurturing Young Hearts Through the Power of Children’s Music

Scholars Award Logo
The Pass It On! Scholars Award is given each fall to a high school senior, university, or college student selected by CMN’s Pass It On Project Reviewers as the candidate most likely, throughout their lifetime, to continue celebrating the positive power of music in the lives of children and to recognize the importance of networking and sharing knowledge, music, ideas, and songs.

Hello, members of the Children’s Music Network. My name is Autumn Haws-Shaddock, and I am a senior at the University of Texas, studying interior design in the architecture program. I am also a member of the children’s music project Strawbitty Yops.

We perform weekly around Austin, so I am usually up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning going to a show and making music with kids and families. As a children’s music performer, I aim to create a fun, engaging, and educational experience for young audiences. I believe that children’s music is a powerful tool that can be used to inspire children, igniting their imaginations and fostering their love for music. I was drawn to the inclusive community of musicians, educators, and music enthusiasts the Children’s Music Network has created. This community’s passion for promoting socially conscious music for children has supported so many musicians, like myself, who strive to create music that is both entertaining and educational, addressing a wide range of topics from social issues to emotional well-being, cultural diversity, and environmental awareness.

Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of playing music for the conferences organized by the Children’s Music Network. I have been able to witness firsthand the close-knit nature of this organization and the strong sense of community that permeates through each event. Even in the virtual setting, there is a genuine warmth and encouragement that flows through the interactions, with our shared passion for children’s music uniting us all.

From my earliest memories, children’s music has held a special place in my heart. Every Saturday morning, I would find myself in our local coffee shop, immersed in a world of lively melodies that resonated from both human voices and playful puppets as we attended the weekly shows of the local kids’ musicians performing in town.

Growing up in a musical household, I was enveloped in the joy that music brings. When my mom initiated Strawbitty Yops, a children’s music project focused on spreading messages of love, acceptance, and interactive musicmaking, I eagerly joined, sharing in the mission wholeheartedly. Since then, we have achieved remarkable milestones, including the release of our first album, captivating audiences with performances across the Austin area. Moreover, we have been privileged to collaborate with fellow artists such as Esther Crow, Red Yarn, 123 Andrés, and Uncle Jumbo, harnessing the power of music to inspire and uplift the younger generation.

In middle and high school, I spent my summers at Girls Rock Camp, which provides a supportive environment and showcases how music can inspire self-expression, boost confidence, nurture creativity, and cultivate a sense of belonging. This was a transformative experience that revealed to me the profound impact of music in empowering children to break out of their shells and forge meaningful connections. As a high schooler, I moved from being a camper to a counselor, helping with band coaching, navigating collaboration between campers, helping with the vocal workshops, and performing in the counselor rock bands every year.

I also grew up with foster and younger siblings. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to experience the positivity children’s music has brought into the lives of my siblings. Through the medium of children’s music, they have discovered newfound confidence within themselves. Music provided them with a creative outlet to express their emotions and individuality. As they engaged with various musical activities, whether it was learning to beatbox and play new instruments or performing to a live audience with the Strawbitty Yops, they began to develop a sense of self-assurance that transcended into other aspects of their lives.

The profound impact of children’s music on my life has ignited a lifelong passion to celebrate and amplify its positive power in the lives of children. I envision myself dedicated to this mission, spreading inspiration and the transformative potential of music to young hearts for years to come. Continuing my work at Girls Rock Camp will allow me to shape the next generation of music makers. Having once been a fearful camper myself, my hope is to provide support to current campers, allowing them to break free from their fears and discover their true passions.

As a member of the Strawbitty Yops band, our unwavering commitment is to create music that inspires children to embrace their feelings and embrace new ideas. We will continue to spread these ideas through our performances, engaging with families and encouraging them to join us in the joyful act of making music together.