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School Assemblies and Workshops

theater A winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award, three NAPPA Gold Awards, and a 2014 Grammy Nominee, 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 all the way up through high school and college. In 2011, Moock 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 (book them here). For all other inquiries, including for school bookings outside of Massachusetts and for libraries anywhere, please contact us here.

Assembly Programs

Music and Social Change (Grades 4 and up; 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 and up; 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.

Writing Workshops

Alastair's writing workshops are intended for smaller classroom settings of 10-25 kids. They are available separately and as a package with his assembly programs.

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The Great Songwriting Challenge I (Grades 3-4; 45-55 minutes)
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 songwriting.

The Great Songwriting Challenge II (Grades 5-12; 50-60 minutes)
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.

over shoulder Build a School Song (Grades 3-6; Residency Program)
Every school needs its own song, or so Alastair Moock believes. Writing an original song from scratch is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn important language arts skills while also engaging in a powerful community-building exercise. Over the course of several sessions, Alastair works with an entire grade to brainstorm ideas, write, and perform a song that reflects unique qualities of the school and student body. At the end of the residency, students will have a finished and recorded song, a new appreciation for writing, and an experience they will never forget.

Testimonials

“We hired Alastair to perform an assembly for kids at the Haggerty School. 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

“Our seventh and eighth graders were captivated by Mr. Moock’s warm presence, cool singing style, and great guitar playing. Students and teachers were buzzing about his program for the rest of the day!”
- Laurie Katz, Theater Teacher, Weston Middle School

“The kids are still talking about your amazing presentation on Tuesday. I know that this was one of those times that our students will take with them for the rest of their lives.”
- Brian Gellerstein, Music Teacher, Tobin School

“Here's the thing about Alastair: He is really genuine, and it comes across. He cares about this music and kids, and he conveys his passion for it in an accessible and enjoyable way.”
- Shelley Sommers, Library Director, Inly School

Video Clip (Music and Social Change)