In this interactive program, Latin GRAMMY Award winner MISTER G (Ben Gundersheimer, M.Ed) and MISSUS G (Kat Jamieson, MFA) will be sharing insights from their decade plus experience performing original music in schools throughout the world.  Ben and Kat will talk about simple ways to weave music, books and movement into the Jewish classroom, and use it as a jumping off point for lessons and activities around Judaism, community, service, environmental awareness and much more. As this will be an experiential keynote, teachers should be ready to engage with MISTER G’s singing and dancing -- and have fun!

In this dynamic, interactive workshop, Ben empowers teachers to use music and movement in their classrooms. Regardless of musical background, teachers will learn to incorporate musical techniques such as call-and-response, simple rhythms, and dynamics to increase experiential learning opportunities, facilitate language acquisition, and teach common core topics. Teachers will leave with a toolkit which includes a free download of Mister G’s environmental-themed album Mundo Verde/Green World, sample teaching guides, song lyrics, online resources for teaching music in the classroom, and current research about the connection between music and education.

This seminar explores the remarkable history of Ben's great great grandfather, Julius Rosenwald, a social justice philanthropist who collaborated with Booker T. Washington to build  over 5000 rural schools throughout the southern United States to address inequities in African-American education. Rosenwald asserted that Jews understand the horrors of racism “more forcefully than others of the white race, on account of the centuries of persecution which they have suffered and still suffer.” Ben reflects on how these teachings have informed his own work, leveraging music and early childhood education as a means to dissolve borders and foster cross-cultural connections among children. The workshop empowers participants to take action to foment social change in their communities.

Latin GRAMMY Award-winning artist, author and educator Ben Gundersheimer (known onstage as MISTER G) presents Seeds of Shalom: a multicultural musical celebration of the natural world. Much of MISTER G’s work has environmental and social justice themes. He'll be performing songs from his PJ Library-commissioned albums The Mitzvah Bus (Parents’ Choice Gold Winner) and Seeds of Shalom. MISTER G will be joined onstage by MISSUS G (Kat Jamieson), who engages the audience and leads the interactive component of their joyful concerts.

Whether singing in English, Spanish, Hebrew or Yiddish, MISTER G uses story and song as a unifying tool to build bridges between cultures and people. Come ready to sing and dance!

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.

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