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The Great Big Story Adventure

The Jewish Music Institute has commissioned a new program of interactive musical storytelling for 4-8 year olds lead and performed by Saul Eisenberg’s Junk Orchestra and storytellerVanessa Woolf with special guest klezmer musician.   Old Jewish stories provide a springboard into other cultures and traditions. Join us as we whirlwind around the world telling enchanting stories of new and old, yesterday and tomorrow.  Vanessa Woolf has so many tales up her sleeve that she won’t have time to tell them all…  Saul Eisenberg invites participants to  join his ever-expanding Junk Orchestra to create a magical soundscape as we embark on our Great Big Story Adventure.

As part of the JMI’s Big Relaunch in October 2012, a young audience of 3 to 8 year olds were treated to the JMI’s Great Big Story Adventure of “Jonah and the Wailers” - a musical magical mystical tour of the story of Jonah and the Whale told through words, music, sounds, textures, lights and movement. With ‘junk musician’ Saul Eisenberg, storyteller Vanessa Woolf and klezmer clarinetist Susi Evans, the story came to life in the children’s eyes and ears as their imaginations were held enthralled in the storyteller’s tale.

Using lights, sounds and found objects Vanessa snaked her way around the space using traditional story telling techniques while Saul, with his fantastic array of foundobjects which made up his innovative junk orchestra added powerful depth to the story. This was a highly innovative and playful learning experience. The children’s imagination was fed with an array of props and everyday objects, creating wind with giant bubble wrap, using tins and cups to conjure wave noises and rustling sweet papers to mimic starfishes on a beach.

Further performances will be announced soon.  If you are interested in a performance for your school or shul, please contact JMI.

'Anotimpurile | The Seasons'

An Educational Journey in Romanian and Yiddish storytelling,
Music and Dance. Genre_Klazmer

This project was created for Harrow Music Service and brings together some of the UK’s best educators in Eastern European music to inspire students with a rich programme of folk tales and song. Students explore the colour and energy of the four seasons through interactive sessions that include instrumental workshops, puppetry and dance. The programme gives each student the opportunity to learn the accordion, one of the central instruments in both Romanian and Yiddish folk music.  Students also learn special songs and dances that represent the different seasons.

Classes are led by Romanian singer, puppeteer and multi-instrumentalist Monooka and supported by three experts in instrumental style, rhythm and dance as well as Judith , one of Harrow Music Service’s leading educationalists Julie Dysch.

Instrumental Tutors

Meg Hamilton, of the award-winning band She’koyokh, is one of the UK’s finest klezmer and Eastern European violinists.  She demonstrates musical styles, leads instrumental workshops and provides special instruction to students who already play an instrument. Virtuoso Accordion player Stelios Katsatsidis, a master in Rebetiko, Greek and Balkan music leads the students in instrumental workshops and provides the essential tutoring needed for the students to gain confidence. Guy Schalom, a specialist in Eastern European rhythm and dance, leads a percussion and rhythm workshop and teaches traditional dance routines.

The project culminates in a final performance of ‘Anotimpurile: The Seasons’ by all the students to their parents and friends.  Monooka and the students narrate the story using puppets. The children also sing, showcase their folk-dancing skills and perform as a group on accordion with the three instrumental tutors accompanying them on accordion, violin and percussion.

Sue McCall, Head of Music Tuition at Harrow Arts Centre says of “Anotimpurile: The Four Seasons”

“This programme has been piloted in Harrow and has proved very successful for several reasons.  The musicians from the Jewish Music Institute are not only highly skilled in their disciplines but also have a wealth of knowledge of Romanian songs and dance music, infused with Yiddish tradition and culture.  One of these musicians who leads the project, Monooka, is a wonderfully child centred practitioner and a singer of great power and beauty.  She is also a consummate story teller – whether through puppets, singing or language.  In addition to this, the children embark on the first stages of accordion playing and are delighted with the instrument.  Of course there are along the way several children for whom this particular cultural adventure strikes a poignant chord and for whom this is an affirmation of their culture – many who are at the start of their lives in Britain, so this is well timed!   I wholeheartedly recommend this programme as one which not only enriches the music curriculum but also relates to other areas of the curriculum”


Aylward East Euro approved 2
The schools that have run ‘Anotimpurile  The Seasons’  to date are, Aylward Primary and Weald Junior School. This term (Spring 2014) St Georges Roman Catholic Primary and next term (Summer 2014) Marlborough Primary have both booked the programme for their schools.

If you are interested in ’Anotimpurile | The Seasons‘ for your school, shul or community centre, please contact JMI.