For Younger Audiences

-  I have a great time with audiences in the  4-6 year old range ( and sometimes younger!)  I tell stories which involve participation with songs, with rhythm, and with vocal responses. Stories like " The Lazy Fiddler", " King of the Pipers", "Monday, Tuesday" and " Sheep don't Dance" all work well with younger folks, as do songs such as the Dunne Song, The Rattling bog, and demonstrations of bagpipes with volunteers from the audience providing percussion on supplied instruments.

For Elementary School Age Audiences - Workshops and Residencies


Story Telling: Folktales, True Tales, and Music Tales – Performance


      Students will experience narrative exposition in a way that stimulates imagination, teaches them about other cultures, encourages vocabulary, and enhances their own narrative abilities.

      Students will learn about traditional musical instruments as well as traditional music and its role in cultures around the world, past and present. A selection of cultures represented will be chosen from* Ireland, Scotland, Appalachia, Galicia (Spain), Slovakia, Croatia, Italy, France, Scandinavia, England, Quebec. Instruments demonstrated and used to accompany the stories will be chosen from* Fiddle, Bagpipes indigenous to those cultures, banjo, button accordion, mandolin, pennywhistle, or percussion 

(* chosen in consultation with the teacher)

      Students will be able to reflect on what makes a story interesting, and what kind of stories they like best. They will be able to compare ‘true’ stories with folktales, and discuss the differences.


      Stories will be told, with musical interludes, and student participation. When appropriate, songs will be learned and sung by students. At the end of the session, questions and answers facilitate discussion. Questions I ask include:

“Which stories do you like best, and why?”

“Do you like true stories better, or fairytales? Why? What are the differences between the two?”

“ Which instruments do you like best? Why? Which seem hardest to play?”

“Why do we have music?”

“What are stories good for?”

“ What is the strangest thing you heard here today? Why?”


Curriculum Connections:


This program can dovetail with geography and history, including discussions of family connections with the cultures I talk about. It can augment units on stories and narrative practice, including reflection stories the students themselves  write and or tell. Some teachers have had students do reflections in other media, including the visual arts, responding to the stories and music in this program.


This Program is appropriate for grades 1-6, though the content is adjusted somewhat in consultation with the teacher. I have presented this successfully to grades 7-8, and 9-12 in drama and music classes.


Oregon Standards Third Grade  - Listening

EL.03.SL.07 Retell in own words and explain what has been said by a speaker.

EL.03.SL.08 Connect and relate prior experiences, insights, and ideas to those of a speaker

(e.g., through mapping, graphic organization).

EL.03.SL.09 Answer questions completely and with appropriate elaboration.

EL.03.SL.10 Identify the sound elements of literary language, including rhymes, repeated sounds, and instances.

      The art of listening is particularly supported by attending to a storyteller. I demonstrate folk tales, and true stories of my travels learning traditional arts, and students are asked to contrast and respond to both. I demonstrate orally the sound elements of literary language and storytelling practices including repetition, alliteration, the use of rhythmic phrases, rhyme and oral dynamics.


Oregon Standards Third Grade – Art - Aesthetics And Criticism

Apply critical analysis to works of art.

AR.03.AC.01 Recognize essential elements, organizational principles and aesthetic effects in works of


Respond to works of art and give reasons for preferences.

AR.03.AC.02 Identify and describe personal preferences connected with viewing or listening to a work of art using terminology that conveys knowledge of the arts.

Understand the interrelationships among art forms.

AR.03.AC.03 Identify the disciplines used in an integrated work of art.

      I ask questions about the stories, the practice and conventions of storytelling, and the music I perform. Students are able to reflect on their preferences and are encouraged to make observations about those preferences and to think about what are the elements that make up their preferences.

A Journey Through History by Bagpipe  -  Performance



Students will come to understand and appreciate the long history and importance of reed instruments, particularly bagpipes, in the story of human civilizations from India to Ireland, and from Scandinavia to North Africa.  They will learn the difference between single and double reeds. They will learn of the ubiquity of reed instruments in the ancient civilizations of Rome and Greece. They will hear the differences between Scottish pipes, Irish bellows blown pipes, and instruments from Italy, France, Spain, Croatia, Slovakia, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria, Sweden, England and the Basque country. They will learn about the cultural context of these instruments, and come to understand why they were important, why they went into decline, and why they are making a comeback today.


Strategies: Primarily demonstration and telling memorable stories about the instruments:

*How I came to have them

*How they are constructed

*How they function

*How and where they have been and are currently played.


Also discussion, including questions and answers. Questions I ask include:

“ Why would these instruments have been important to people in earlier times?”

“ Why is music important to people?”

“ Why is music different from place to place?”

“ Why are there similarities between music in one place and another?”

“ Why are these so different from each other?”

“ What is similar about these bagpipes, and why do you think that is?”


Curriculum Connections: this program can dovetail with units on geography, on music history, on dance, on folklore and on cross-cultural literacy.


This program is appropriate for grades 1-8. A slightly altered version works for kindergarten as well. I have presented it to high school age students in music programs to excellent effect.


Oregon Standards and Learning Benchmarks ( Grade 4)


AR.05.HC.02 Identify and relate common and unique characteristics in works of art that reflect social,

historical, and cultural contexts.


AR.05.HC.04 Describe how the arts serve a variety of purposes and needs in other communities and


AR.05.HC.05 Describe how the arts have influenced various communities and cultures.


This program expressly addresses the social, historical and cultural contexts of community music making. Discussion helps to identify common and unique characteristics of music.

Presentation of the context in which instruments are played enables students to understand the variety of purposes and needs traditional music served in the cultures from which it emerged, as well as how those cultures were influenced by the music.  Students meet Benchmark 2 by understanding and being able to discuss “how works of art reflect their society, the purposes they serve, and the

influences they have on that society.”