School Assemblies and Workshops
A winner of two NAPPA gold awards, a Parents' Choice silver award, and a Boston Music Awards nominee for Singer-Songwriter
of the Year, Alastair Moock makes and plays music for all ages. In addition to his grownup and family shows, Alastair offers several assembly programs and workshops for school kids from pre-K on up. In 2011, he joined the roster of Young Audiences of Massachusetts with his program, "Music and Social Change." That program and "The Language of Song" are offered exclusively to Massachusetts schools through Young Audiences. For all other inquiries, including for schools outside of Massachusetts and for libraries anywhere, please contact us here.
Music and Social Change (Grades 4-12; 55 minutes)
Music played a major role in three of America's most important movements for social change in the 1930s-60s:
labor rights, civil rights, and the antiwar movement. Through a compelling and interactive narrative full of
participatory singing, Alastair introduces kids to the music of all three movements, and shows how
songs and resistance techniques were passed from one to the next. Along the way, kids get acquainted with
some of the major songs and singers of the eras, including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, the SNCC Freedom
Singers, and Bob Dylan. But this is not purely a history lesson: Alastair begins and ends the program by
asking kids about the changes they might want to bring about in their own country, and shows them that
powerful political music is still around today, if you know where to look.
See a short clip of Alastair performing this program below.
This Land is Your Land: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie (Grades 4-12; 55 minutes)
Who is the man behind America's best-known folk song? This performance is a coming of age story about America's
greatest troubadour, told through the lyrics of his own songs. Not only has Woody Guthrie's style and legacy of
singing truth to power had a major impact on American music; the personal story of the father of modern folk and
activist music also serves as a lesson in the history of America in the first half of the twentieth century. Through
Woody's upbeat and often funny songs, children will learn what The Great Depression looked and felt like for southern
migratory families. They will also be introduced to the concept of the labor union and its importance to American workers,
historically and today.
The Language of Song/The Song of Language (Grades 2-4; 55 minutes)
Writing great poetry and prose takes many of the same skills it takes to write songs. In this lively, interactive program full of singing, clapping, and dancing, Alastair uses his own award-winning tunes, plus songs by Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, and others to teach key language arts concepts including subject, setting, mood, point of view, rhyme, alliteration, and rhythm in both music and speech. As the grand finale, kids put what they've learned to work, by helping write new verses for one of Alastair's original songs.
Shake Your Roots! (Grades PreK-3; 50 minutes)
Singin' and dancin' — that's what it's all about! Alastair leads kids in sing-and-move-alongs of original
and classic American tunes, including songs by Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, and Leadbelly, and his own
award-winning originals. Kids will be up on their feet, singing along, moving their bodies, and learning new dances.
Along the way, they will (ever so subtly) learn a bit about American history and engage with the vibrant colors of
American folk and blues music.
“We hired Alastair to perform his Woody Guthrie program for kids at the Haggerty School in
Cambridge. His spirit and dedication to his music were so compelling that students couldn't help but
be drawn in... He is a master at engaging kids.”
- Betsy Siggins, Director, New England Folk Music Archives
The Great Songwriting Challenge I (Grades 3-4; 45-55 minutes; 25 student limit)
Songwriting can feel like a daunting proposition. What if I don't play an instrument? What if I can't
carry a tune? In this workshop, Alastair bridges varied levels of musical knowledge and ability and
eases kids into the challenge of effective lyric writing with a game: working in small groups, kids
complete missing lyrics in a humorous song. Their challenge is to convince their peers that the new
lyrics they've written are the actual lyrics of the song. Along the way, kids learn and discuss the
techniques - cadence, rhyme, alliteration, analogy, metaphor, imagery - that are essential to effective
The Great Songwriting Challenge II (Grades 5-12; 50-60 minutes; 25 student limit)
With older kids, Alastair uses the same game to get inside a more lyrically sophisticated, often political
song by a writer like Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan. In addition to fitting the song's cadence and rhyme scheme,
kids are challenged to match the author's voice and tone - an introduction to the concept of point of view.
Kids may also be given background information to familiarize them with the song's topic and the broader
historical and/or political context; and Alastair can work with teachers to choose a song on a topic relevant
to themes being studied in class.
“Alastair is not only a font of musical knowledge, he presents the material in a way that engages the
kids he's working with and makes them want to return to the well....”
- Lisa Murdock, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Passim Folk Music and Cultural Center