A program for Elementary School Aged Children
By Pianist and Children’s Storyteller Lou Walinsky
Music and Tales is available as a community engagement program that would be connected to Lou’s solo piano performances of Piano Works: Solo Piano Interpretations of The Great American Songbook and Beyond. For booking information for both programs, contact Lou.
Music and Tales is a creative blend of music and stories, performed for young audiences by Lou Walinsky. The stories vary – they can be old or new, borrowed or original. There are multiple opportunities during the program for the children to respond and participate.
This interactive program features character building and fun stories that are accompanied with improvised music. Pianist/Storyteller Lou Walinsky transports students into a world of imaginative storytelling that is enhanced by piano or keyboard music, rhythm instruments, and audience participation.
While the children are having a great time and being engaged with the stories, the program aims to:
Encourage creative thinking;
Pass on important values of our culture;
Stimulate an interest in music;
Illustrate basic elements of music;
And, provide exposure to a variety of different kinds of music.
Music and Tales utilizes and grows out of the performer’s years of experience as a pianist, piano teacher, and elementary school music teacher.
A typical Music and Tales program would include stories like these:
“The Legend of the Stonecutter” – a Russian folktale. A stonecutter is unhappy with his lot and wants to become an elephant. He magically becomes the elephant, but then finds that he is still not happy as an elephant. He wishes – and his wishes are granted – to become more and more different things. He eventually appreciates the value of being a stonecutter, and he once again becomes himself. This story is accompanied by keyboard or piano music.
“The Woodcutter and the White Birds” – by Laura Simms. A woodcutter returns to the forest where he once worked. He discovers that an act of kindness in his youth to two white birds is held against him by a witch who seeks revenge and threatens to kill him.. His kindness is returned by the birds, who hear of his plight and save him. This story is accompanied by piano or keyboard, with sound effects by the students.
“Help, Help, the Globolinks!” Adapted from an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. The director of a residential music school is upset that her students have not brought their instruments home to practice, and believes that the world will come to an end if the students don’t learn to play music well. She is confirmed in her belief when the earth is invaded by destructive creatures and the only weapon that can deter them is music. This story is also accompanied by piano or keyboard with sound effects by the students.
“Peter the cab driver and the Man on the Moon” – by Lou Walinsky A cab driver picks up a rider who has extraordinary powers. He presses a button, and they are off… to the moon – with unexpected adventures. They return safely the next day, and Peter finds a huge surprise waiting for him.
“The Boy and the Musical Wizard” A take-off on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. In this version of the traditional story, the wizard is also a musician and the apprentice is unable to remember the keyboard riffs the wizard used to end a magic trick.
What Administrators and Teachers have said about Music and Tales:
Mr. Lou Walinsky recently treated us to his original musical presentation entitled Music and Tales. His program wove together innovative piano playing with stories that engaged our children for over an hour. Mr. Walinsky’s use of the piano enhanced the delivery of his stories by adding both color and drama. The children were able to experience first hand how music works to enrich many experiences.
During the program, Mr. Walinsky showed a great understanding of children by varying his program to include opportunities for the children to “get their bodies involved.” This helped them to refocus between the stories and allowed them to be a better listening audience. One of the activities involved remembering different types of music that changed in tempo and mood. The children were asked to listen and respond to music he played on the piano with specific upper body movements for each song or piece. I saw first-hand how quickly the children were able to train their ears. They surpassed my “old ears” rapidly. It is clear that Mr. Walinsky develops activities that are both engaging and purposeful.
Overall his program was a wonderful addition to the music experience and education our children receive at Souderton Charter School Collaborative. Mr. Walinsky was both resourceful and creative and the children thoroughly enjoyed him, his storytelling, and his playing. I would heartily recommend him to you and your organization.
J.A., Director of Education/CEO – Souderton Charter School Collaborative, Souderton, Pa.
We were welcomed into the world of Lou Walinsky! Your performance was awesome! Our students were mesmerized by your energy and talent. Your performance taught listening skills, rhythms, memory enhancement, self-expression, group interaction and unique audience participation. Not only did our staff, parents and students thoroughly enjoy the show but it was quite evident that you were having a ball too!
You laughed, your fingers laughed and skipped across the piano keys, you even rolled on the floor enacting one of the characters in one of your many stories. You simply brought us into your world and we thank you!
Mr. Walinsky, you bring music to life, and you probably inspired many young people to study piano or any instrument. I know our students were fascinated. You are a music commercial that advertises the joy of rhythms, piano composition, and different music styles.
I will certainly tell other schools and centers about your performances and we would like to book you now to return for our summer programming and again in the fall.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing music with us!
A.S.B., Director – The Spring School of the Arts, Philadelphia
Thank you so much for coming and performing at Project Learn last week. We had all been looking forward to hearing a concert, and the two performances that you gave were even better than we had expected.
First of all, your piano playing is so exciting, beautiful, and fun. And second of all, it provided the perfect accompaniment to all the stories you told. In fact, at our staff meeting later on that day, the teachers all were in agreement that our children need to hear more music, and need to sing more and become more fluent musically. None of us had been surprised by how naturally the children involved themselves in your playing and singing, but it was your storytelling that really hooked them in wholly different ways. Kids don’t hear storytellers enough these days, and your understanding of tone and inflection, and your own excitement and interest in the stories created an experience for all of us that we’re still talking about. In fact, I heard some of the kindergartners telling the ‘golden wings” story with all kinds of new twists and turns, with magical embellishments that changed and grew as they told it again and again. They got that from you, Lou!
I guess that the best compliment I heard about your visit was as simple and direct a statement as can be made. As the children ran outside into the backyard after the show, one of our teachers said, “That’s how music should be taught!” We look forward to next fall when we hope you will come back to Project Learn for a return engagement. Thanks again, Lou.
D.P., Art Teacher – Project Learn, Philadelphia
Thank you for the remarkable set of assembly programs you performed here at Cayuga. You showed our students some of the enormous capabilities of the piano and keyboard in the hands of an accomplished pianist, composer, and improviser. The program introduced the students to a variety of musical genres in a way that was accessible and fascinating for the children at each of our grade levels. You engaged the imaginations of our children and left them curious and excited to learn more. You did a great job of communicating the fact that creative thinking in music is very similar to creative thinking in other fields of endeavor, thereby encouraging our students in their academic work as well.
J.K.,Program SupportTeacher, Cayuga Elementary, Phila.
Thank you so much for your delightful performance at our school. Your combination of storytelling and music made for an excellent performance. The children particularly enjoyed your rendition of the story about the Rabbi and the man who couldn’t sleep. Your characterization of the sleepless man, the Rabbi, and the proliferation of animals the poor man takes into his home was fabulous.
As a teacher, I was extremely impressed and enchanted with the way you interacted with the children in the audience. Your clever link of learning hand movements while also learning to identify pieces of music was impressive.
I have heard you play for adult audiences, but I had no idea that your repertoire had widened to include outstanding performances for children. Once again, thank you for a wonderful time.
J.A.M., Director, Extended Day Program, Frankford Friends School, Philadelphia
Lou has spent much of his career developing ways of making high quality music accessible to people of all ages. With his Music and Tales programs, Lou focused his efforts on helping to improve the quality of children’s lives through music and stories, as well as their appreciation of music. He has performed his programs for children since the 1980s. For more information about Lou, see his complete bio.