The Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Library’s Story Room burst into song Wednesday as 23 aspiring young musicians learned how to write songs from award-winning, Austin-based children’s artist, Joe McDermott.

Children’s librarian Amanda Hairston has led the program for four years over its decade-long span for local homeschooling families.

McDermott taught the children how to keep the beat, formulate songs through different combinations of sounds, incorporate their own original ideas into their songs and experiment with different instruments and musical effects through software called Cubase. The children came up with a short song about tacos.

Lauren McGinley, of Belton, visits the library every week with her daughter, Emily, 6, for the Homeschool Program.

“Here, Emily gets exposed to a lot of different interest areas, so she can see what she likes.” said McGinley. “She gets to socialize and learn new ideas that she might not have before.”

Tina Fosnot said her daughters, Hannah, 10, and Jordan, 9, always have a blast at the Homeschool program, whether they are revisiting a concept they are familiar with or learning something new.

“I know that they always have a great time in this program,” Fosnot said. “We have the music program on the computer at home, so they love doing this kind of stuff. The Homeschool Program is a nice break to get out of the house and do something different besides our normal curriculum and they are building friendships at the same time.”

“I loved messing around on the piano,” Hannah said. “It was really fun.”

“My favorite part was screaming “tacos” for the song,” Jordan giggled.

Danette Simmons, of Fort Hood, said she and her son, Connor, 9, both look forward to the program every week to see what the library will present next.

“The biggest takeaway of the program is that Connor isn’t the biggest on music, but with the technology added, it has really sparked his interest in it,” Simmons said. “We both love the librarians, the structure, and the class. Miss Amanda brings a new topic every week and he’ll come home and run with that topic all week.”

Ronnie Hill, 9, of Killeen, said he enjoyed the day, as it mixed reading and music together.

“My favorite thing about today was getting free books,” said Ronnie. “I also really liked singing with Joe.”

“Just getting out and socializing, I think really helps,” said Ronnie’s mother, Leslie. “They do so many great programs here. It’s great because they learn to love books and be a part of a group. We honestly forgot Joe was coming today so it was a real treat for us.”

McDermott has dabbled in the arts since he was a child.

After high school, McDermott moved to Austin to further his education at the University of Texas, where he earned his Fine Arts degree.

He has performed for children over a run of 30 years, beginning in 1987, leaving a trail of smiles in his wake.

“I love everything about working with kids because they’re so fun to be around,” McDermott said. “My inspiration for songs comes from them. Today, I wanted to show them the technology of music and how people make music now. Kids are “digital natives”, they’ve grown up with this.

McDermott is now in the process of working on children’s symphony scores and writing a book.

It’s really fun to play in Harker Heights,” he added. “The crowds here, the people in this town are so nice and I really love the community.”

For more information about McDermott, visit | 254-501-7542 | 254-501-7542

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