Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis Children’s Museum’
I found a little stash of performance photos the other day (posted on 3/12/2012) and that find sent me on a trip down memory lane and I just kept going. But the reminiscence leads me to muse on how each person’s unique experience can combine to make something new and useful for the world. This is how many facts of my life have combined to create my Sing Books with Emily program and blog.
I got to thinking about how I’d ended up Singing Books and realized that most of my life experience has led me here and prepared me for this project. My theatre experience as a student and professional performer, experiences in training and as a professional vocal and cabaret performer certainly prepared me for Sing Books.
But there’s a lot more to it than just that. My Paternal Grandmother (Grace Evangelyn Morgan Everson, who I called “Penny”) was a second grade teacher at John Strange Elementary School in Indianapolis, IN for THIRTY YEARS! Penny taught me to love stories and books and she read many wonderful books to my sister and I. Also, my Maternal Great Aunt (Florence Geisler, who I called “Aunt Flossie”) was a career elementary school educator and Professor at Butler University. Penny and Aunt Flossie were fantastic teachers! Education is in my DNA.
In my first two college summers, I worked at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. It was an incredible experience that has informed quite a few things for Sing Books. One vital experience was that I got my first introduction to the art of story telling. One of the exhibits in the museum was about how many cultures around the world practice the art of oral story telling and the museum needed someone to tell stories for visitors. I jumped at the chance. The exhibit curators gave me a packet of stories to learn and then I got to call groups together within the exhibit and tell the stories, many of which required audience participation. It was so easy to learn in that situation how a story ENGAGES people (regardless of creed, race or anything else). We should not underestimate the power and importance of story-telling, especially when done in a live personal experience (and especially, in my opinion, when set to music).
Post University, I got to spend a great couple of years performing in Indianapolis theatres (Indiana Repertory Theatre and Starlight Musicals Indianapolis). Then, I moved to NYC late in 1992. I did end up performing a little and took classes at the amazing HB Studios on Bank Street in the Village. But, I’ve come to realize that my time at Microsoft Corporation NYC (in my first office job ever starting in early 1993) as an Administrative Assistant and as an Events Planner (at Microsoft and later at AIG) helped me learn to organize and document this vast subject of Singable Picture Books in this blog and to create my own SPBs using my PC. I had no idea what to do with a computer before I started working at Microsoft. Also at Microsoft, I became very involved with the local community, facilitating heaps of dollars worth of software donations (to organizations like The New York Public Library, Children’s Friends for Life, Crossroads Theatre Company, and many more), and working with young people in the community by organizing Microsoft’s participation in events like “Take Our Daughters to Work Day,” “Cooks for Kids (Children’s Friends for Life)” and as President of the World Wide Plaza Student Outreach organization. Kudos, of course, to Microsoft for its company giving policy to allow for these donations! These community efforts have always been very important to me, “acting locally” and using my skills and talents to improve the community for young people.
Another important effort for me was for two years serving as a lunchtime reader with the “Everybody Wins” program. What a fabulous organization that is, with a charming and vitally meaningful mission. I read with a little girl named Lumi at PS 111 for two years at lunchtime, once a week. It was fun and a great experience for the both of us. The experience also solidified my belief and understanding of the benefits of reading (or singing) books with children.
Things changed and I moved onto a new job as Events Planner at AIG, which is where I met my husband Charlie. We soon got married and set up house in Washington, DC and not long after that Mo and Eloise were born. Beginning to collect picture books for them, I accidentally noticed that a few were created from songs when I started singing books to my children. Going to look for more, snowballing the efforts over the years to collect and sing the songs, along with my need to know everthing possible about the songs and books in order to feel qualified to sing them, led to the creation of the blog. I started the blog to house and share the info and personal experience I was able to gather about the songs contained in the books.
Around the same time that Charlie and I moved to DC, I began to take voice lessons again and study the art of cabaret through the DC Cabaret Network (and serving as a member of the Board of Directors from 2005-2012) and learned about telling stories with song, singing directly to the audience in a kind of conversation, singing from a personal point of view (instead of from a character) and singing honestly and authentically (as opposed to “selling” the song as I’d often been advised to do). I found the medium of performance that was so in tune with how I wanted to perform and one that fit my needs as a stay-at-home mom.
And then it all came together, Sing Books has turned out to be a joyous synthesis of everything: children, education, community, theatrical-cabaret-vocal performance, and books. What fun it all is and I’m so grateful for the chance to share it all.
Sing Books with Emily and the DC Cabaret Network (and What the DC Cabaret Network Means to Me)
TEDDY BEARS’ PICNIC AND THE INDY CHILDREN’S MUSEUM CAROUSEL
CHARLES NELSON REILLY AND MY FIRST CABARET (AT HB STUDIOS)
Posted September 16, 2011on:
Everywhere I go, I’m looking for connections to songs for cabaret and Singable Picture Books. Having personal connections to songs, and my NEED to share those connections, drive my compulsion to sing.
My favorite places connect me to many songs in the Singable Picture Book catalogue and it gives me such pleasure to share them with you in this list.
“Sunshine On My Shoulders” always brings me back to warm sunny days sitting the hill beside the lake, listening to Guitar Dave
Children’s Museum, Indianapolis
When I worked as a Visitor Aid in the mid 1980′s, the vintage carousel at Indianapolis Children’s Museum played “The Teddy Bear Two Step” which is the instrumental music for which lyrics were written 25 years later to create the song we know as “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
HB Studio on Bank Street in New York City
This post is a personal tribute to Charles Nelson Reilly who cast me in my first cabaret and gave me a treasured gift
Lincoln Memorial and Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC
This post celebrates a musical setting and illustration of the Gettysburg Address, which is carved into a wall of the stirring and iconic Lincoln Memorial
ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
OUR ABE LINCOLN, A SINGABLE PICTURE BOOK
Lockerbie House where James Whitcomb Riley lived in Indianapolis
James Whitcomb Riley, a Hoosier and “the Children’s Poet,” whose poems have often been set to music as well as illustrated, lived in the house on Lockerbie Street in Indianapolis for the last 20 or so years of his wonderful life
National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Giuseppe Arcimboldo Exhibit 2010
The 2010 Archimboldo exhibit at the National Gallery and The Flower Carol (tempus adest floridum)
Wayne Thiebaud’s Work on Permanent Display 2011
Plaza Hotel in NYC
It’s no mistake my daughter’s name is Eloise and that Eloise (created by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight) lives at the Plaza
Mapping the Colosseum’s Underworld and the Benefits of Pencil and Paper for Creating Art
Smithsonian Museum of American History
Phyllis Diller’s Gag File 2011, on Display for a Limited Time
This list of funny Singable Picture Books was inspired by a trip to Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Pop-Up Singable Picture Books
This list of Pop-Up Singable Picture books was inspried by the temporary exhibit, “Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop & Turn” at Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery
Electronic Superhighway, Singable Art at Smithsonian’s American Art Museum
Preamble (1987) by Mike Wilkins, Singable Art…and We The Kids, a Singable Picture Book (and 50 Nifty States!)
The Singable Picture Books with Norman Rockwell’s Art: Norman Rockwell at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and 2 Singable Picture Books
Statue of Liberty
This post celebrates the Emma Lazarus poem Irving Berlin’s song:
NATIONAL PARKS (and PRAISE for National Park Rangers)
Singable Picture Books that illustrate songs with origins in locations of United States history which are in the care of the National Park Service
FOURTH OF JULY AND OTHER HOLIDAYS CELEBRATING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND HER CITIZENS AND HISTORY
A list of Singable Picture Books celebrating the Fourth of July
It has been great fun to share “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” at “Sing Books” gatherings over the last couple of years. As I’ve been doing my homework for the song in preparation for my new show “Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret“, I’ve learned all sorts of interesting things about it and old memories have floated to the surface.
Teddy Bear’s Picnic
Words by Jimmy Kennedy
Music by John W. Bratton
Illustrated by Alexandra Day
Published by Scholastic Inc., New York, NY, 1983
I discovered this song only 3 or 4 years ago, but the tune seemed oddly familiar. A little research revealed that John W. Bratton originally wrote the song as an instrumental titled “Teddy Bear Two-Step.” Funny enough, when thinking on how the tune is familiar, the song is always sounds like it is being played on pipe organ when it drifts through my head.
I was lucky to work at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis during a couple of summers on break from Indiana University in the late 80′s. One of my favorite tasks in that job was running the vintage carousel which still crowns the top floor of that wonderful museum! Those of us assigned to the carousel got to announce the beginning of a ride, take tickets, proclaim the safety instructions, help kids on and off the animals, and press a big red button to start the carousel turning and the splendourous Calliope from the vintage Wurlitzer Organ. Ah ha! That was it. The Wurlitzer in the center of the carousel played “The Teddy Bear Two Step.” I must have heard that tune rise hundreds of times from the center of the carousel with thousands of children and carousel animals spinning around me.
Just to confirm, I wrote the children’s museum to confirm the song in that Wurlitzer and Alex from Customer Service responded:
You are correct that Teddy Bear’s picnic was one of the songs on the organ play list for many years. I can’t confirm that it is currently on the list of songs, but I have definitely heard it coming from the carousel over the 12 years that I’ve been at the museum.
It’s a wonderful song, frolicking and fun, with a hint of adventure. Adding the Calliope of a carousel organ sets my imagination spinning!
Here’s a YouTube of a different carousel’s Wurlitzer Organ playing “Teddy Bear Two-Step”:
Come for the adventure with me when we sing this song in my new show,
”Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret“
on June 4 and June 10, 2011.
Find out all about it here: