“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One of these is Roots; the other, Wings.”
– Hodding Carter
I grew up in Chicago and attended Carl Schurz High School (Class of ’73). Musical theater was a big part of my life as a child, and I performed in many productions in schools, park districts, summer programs, and Jack & Jill Players on Wabash Ave. in The Loop. After high school I toured internationally with Up With People. I had a chance to use my three years of high school Spanish in Spain. I also visited several other European countries, traveled across North America, and recorded albums in Spanish, Italian, and English.
Afterwards I settled in Orange County, CA and became active again in theater. I also began working for a small piano store and learned all aspects of the business. When I resumed my education in 1977, I worked my way through Cal. State, Fullerton by tuning and repairing pianos Years later I would choose the name PNO TUNA Music (Get it?) for my independent label. But I’m getting ahead of myself …
I graduated from CSUF in 1982 and continued performing in a variety of musical and theatrical productions. In 1985, Jody and I were married. She worked as an elementary school music teacher and later as a kindergarten teacher. I performed on tour with Opera a la Carte and in countless school assembly programs with the Overture Company of Opera Pacific. When Jody told me I was going to be a father I was concerned about the future and how to provide for a family. She invited me to attend an educational conference with her. The keynote speaker ended with a quote that changed my life –
“There are two great gifts we can give our children: One is Roots; the other, Wings.”
“Roots and Wings” became the first song I wrote. I also decided to become a teacher myself and entered the Claremont Graduate School Teacher Education / Masters Program. I then taught at Lincoln Elementary School in Santa Ana, California for several years. By some strange chance I wound up teaching kindergarten myself. My high school Spanish proved to be invaluable. Soon I was conversing and composing in two languages! Our second and third children came into the world. I continued to perform and write songs. Then people were clamoring to buy my album. I didn’t have one so it was time to make one! (By the way, the second song I penned was “Underwear.”)
My first album, “SHARE THIS WORLD” was the winner of both the 1994 Parents’ Choice Award and the 1995 NAPPA Award (National Association of Parenting Publications of America). “LET IT SHINE!” won 1996 Parents’ Choice Honors. My songs have been heard on radio and television across the country. In addition to my own subsequent albums, I have been successfully writing songs for others. My work can be heard widely; on The Learning Channel and, most notably, on “Barney & Friends®.” My most recent album is called “LIKE A STAR.” Our three children. Casey, Timothy, and Emma, sing on the albums and appear with me in concert from time to time.
As a performer, I sing, play several instruments, and present a positive message that is both inspirational and fun. It is suitable for all audiences, especially children and their parents. My shows are full of audience participation, and a good time is had by all. I am happy to say that the word is getting around. Since relocating to Central Pennsylvania from California in 1997, my concert calendar has included performances at Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland, Chocolate Town Square, Hershey Library, Mount Gretna Cicada Festival, Bethlehem Musikfest, Trexler Game Preserve, Longwood Gardens, guest appearances on “Kids’ Corner” on WXPN FM Radio, “The Kids’ Cookie Break” on WJTL FM, “Charlie and Company” on WEEU AM, WITF Summer Book Tour, and a growing list of schools, libraries, bookstores, churches, temples, and educational conferences. In addition to all this, I continue to work in the trenches as a classroom teacher. This year I am at Tenth and Penn Elementary School in Reading, PA teaching first grade Spanish speaking students. The move across the country was to live closer to Jody’s family, and we are here to stay. However, I still like to travel!
It would be a treat to sing or offer a presentation for you. My material can incorporate a variety of themes including ecology, diversity, storytelling, sign language, tolerance, parenting, family, language development, literature, fairy tales, and the process of poetry and song writing. This is just to give you some ideas on how I might be valuable in the future. By the way, I speak Spanish well, having learned it in school as a student and as a teacher. Two of my albums, TOO MUCH FUN and TOO MUCH FUN, TOO! are bilingual/Spanish collections and inspired by my experience as a kindergarten teacher in Santa Ana, California. I can also fumble around in German, French, and Italian because of my studies, travels, and background in musical theater and opera. I hold a BA in Music (’82) from California State University, Fullerton, and MA in Education (’93) from Claremont Graduate University. I recently completed my Pennsylvania ESL Specialist certification through Penn State Universty and am currently completing my Reading Specialist certification through Cabrini College of Radnor, PA. Never stop learning!
Thank you for your interest.