Fellowship: 2011 / 2012
“Don’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back,” says Judy. “Share the talents that you have with as many people as you can.”
Judy is a singer, songwriter, and recording artist specializing in Early Childhood Music, integrating music and arts into curriculum. She began singing in public when she was six years old, and has an opera degree. She teaches and performs all over North America.
“My music is very participatory,” she says. Her acoustic show, Musical America, teaches American history to 5th graders through songs of the period. She covers the wars: Revolutionary, Civil, World Wars I and II, Vietnam; as well as the early push westward, pioneers crossing the Appalachians, the Gold Rush, Erie Canal, and the building of the transcontinental railroad.
“I spent a couple of years doing research,” she says, “‘She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain’ originated in the 1800’s, when trains were pulled by horses. ‘Oh! Susanna’ by Stephen Foster, was popular during the Gold Rush. And ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’ is a guide to slaves using the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.” She created a study guide to accompany the live performances, and leaves it with teachers so they can refer to the songs throughout the school year. “Children love it, and they remember more when taught this way.”
Since 2002, Judy has worked with the nonprofit Guitars in the Classroom, which trains teachers to play guitar and use music to teach. “The method we use gets them playing guitar immediately,” she says. As a way to raise awareness for the program, she creates guitar flashmobs.
Judy has extensive training and experience in liturgical Hebrew music. She sings as a cantor in her synagogue, and signs Hebrew music as another way to teach children the language. She’s also the founder of Central Louisiana Arts & Healthcare, a nonprofit that brings arts experiences into healthcare settings to enhance the healing process.
A fan of artistic cross-pollination, Judy is currently collaborating with a fiber artist from Massachusetts. “Every day is a new day,” she says. “There are so many amazing people in this world.”
Silence. “Silence and solitude sparks creativity. When my mind gets too cluttered I can’t be creative. You have to be able to stop your mind, your distractions, the belief that everybody needs you. But it’s hard to do.”
To create songs on a theme, for specific curricula, “I do research, then let the themes and ideas and facts mull around in there, until something stirs around, and the meal finally pops out. I try to mull the themes from a child’s perspective, to make the song active and participatory.”
(photo by Glowing Heads)