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Winter Sings are a celebration of the season and the end of the calendar year. In a normal year, we all gather in the gym to sing and dance along to songs the children have been learning during the weeks before. Following the musical celebration, we have a party in each of the classrooms with family, friends, and a lot of food. This year was a bit different, but we still managed to keep the spirit of our Winter Sings alive through the magic of Zoom. Together, we sang:
Evan, our music teacher, is a rockstar around the halls. The children love him and grown ups understand why. Whether it’s introducing instruments from around the world or showcasing music from different eras and genres, Evan approaches his studio class in a way that honors different traditions, cultures, and sounds.
Born and raised in South Florida, Evan moved to New York City in 2010 to pursue a master’s degree in Music Therapy from NYU. He began practicing as a Board-Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) in 2012 and earned his license in Creative Arts Therapy (LCAT) soon thereafter, working primarily with preschool-aged children with special needs. Early in his career, Evan studied Afro-Cuban and Brazilian percussion and continues to perform as the drummer in the Brooklyn-based band, Yotoco.
In 2016, Evan began his role as the music studio teacher at the Duane Street site, and quickly found himself right at home. Informed largely by his music therapy background, Evan believes passionately in music’s ability to enrich children’s lives, supporting their global development, while broadening their appreciation and awareness of our world’s many cultures. Evan begins by first focusing on the childrens’ innate musical strengths and interests, to build a baseline of self-confidence and excitement around music. And soon enough in their music studio classes, the children will begin to build a foundation of skills and awareness around melody, harmony, rhythm, and dynamics.
To learn more about Evan, you can read the following interview:
When did you first start getting involved in music? Why and how?
My father grew up playing guitar and is a passionate music lover, and he began sharing music with me from as early as I can remember! I have very fond and early memories of listening to John Coltrane, Jackson Browne, Aretha Franklin, and many others, together with my Dad. My parents never pushed me towards being a musician, per se, but I quickly grew to be a passionate music aficionado. Around the age of 12, I began begging my parents for music lessons, and after much deliberation around which instrument to learn, I decided I wanted to be a drummer! Somehow, my parents agreed and bought me a drumset, and boy was it fun (and LOUD, they were very kind and patient parents). Soon enough I started playing in bands, and haven’t stopped since! I’m very grateful to my parents for all of their support and encouragement along the way.
Why is music important for kids? What are its benefits?
Where to begin!? Music is such a special art form for so many reasons. Music can help to support the development of children’s cognitive skills, social-emotional skills, sense-of-self, and ability to self-regulate. Music helps us connect with our peers, fostering a sense of community, while also helping us connect to ourselves and our emotions. Music is also an excellent vehicle for learning about and celebrating the beautiful diversity of musical styles, languages, and cultures across the globe!
What advice would you give to parents who are trying to introduce music/instruments into their child’s life?
I always like to encourage parents to follow their child’s lead, in terms of what instruments and music their child is naturally drawn to. To that end, I feel passionately that children are born ready to appreciate the entire world of music available to us all! I think it’s wonderful for parents to share their favorite music with their children, while sharing about their own memories connected to the music. If you do feel that it’s time to begin music lessons for your child, I always like to recommend starting out with a teacher/classes that focus on their children’s interests, and on the joy, freedom, and social aspects of music making, to cultivate early and positive associations before moving into more formal music education. I also feel that music can be such a valuable tool in helping children to navigate their many emotions. I often recommend helping your children make these connections, perhaps by asking them how different songs make them feel, or by offering them an instrument to express their feelings in difficult moments, for example.
What’s something we may not know about you?
My other passion is cooking! I’ve never worked in the restaurant industry but am a passionate home cook. I used to run a ‘Supper Club’ in a Brooklyn loft space where I once lived, which we converted to an underground music venue/restaurant. In my five years living in that space, we hosted many private dining/music events for folks all around NYC!
What’s a good memory you have of your time in preschool/early childhood?
One of my fondest memories from early childhood was earning the role of ‘lead dancer’ to the song, ‘Day-O’, by Harry Belafonte, during my Kindergarten end-of-year performance. I was a very shy child at that age, and I’ve since come to really appreciate my Kindergarten teacher for assigning me the role and helping me to break out of my shell a bit 🙂
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