The workshop emphasizes the power that we all have to help create a more harmonious, peaceful world. Based upon MISTER G’s PJ Library commissioned album of the same title, Seeds of Shalom incorporates a wide range of musical styles and languages (English, Hebrew, Spanish and Yiddish). Students are encouraged to protect and preserve the environment, while developing a sense of global connectedness to children in other cultures.
Workshops are organized with regional PJ Library coordinators, engaging youth through Jewish Community Centers and Synagogues.
Ben demystifies the creative process to illustrate how great songs, like great stories, follow a narrative form with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Employing basic concepts in literacy, students brainstorm specific imaginative details to create compelling characters and events and then translate these ideas into lyrics. Using this participant-generated material, Ben demonstrates how a range of musical styles including funk, rock, reggae, bluegrass, and jazz can be paired with lyrics to invent a fully formed new song.
Symbolic Migration is a visual art workshop inspired by the book Señorita Mariposa, and MISTER G’s journey to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, where he witnessed millions of butterflies congregating in their winter home.
During the workshop, participants create butterflies out of paper and decorate them with paint, markers, and a variety of embellishments. Referred to as “ambassador butterflies”, the finished creations are often put on display as part of the backdrop for a concert performance. Once the event is over, the ambassador butterflies are packed up and sent to our friends in Mexico, where they are distributed to school children during the winter as part of a symbolic migration. This exchange program connects children on both sides of the border, highlighting the responsibility that they share as stewards of the environment and protectors of the pollinator's habitat. Children in the United States can track the destination of their butterfly using an online map, and the recipient classrooms will send letters back to their creators.
Children’s inherent curiosity about the natural world is a great jumping-off point for inspiring budding eco-activists. In this interactive assembly, Ben guides students to draw the connection between exploration and appreciation of nature and the desire to conserve, protect, and defend the world in which we live. By incorporating scientific information into his engaging, bilingual songs, Ben helps students learn important facts about biology, ecology, and physics.