Programs for Schools and Libraries


Polly and the Piano
Published by Amadeus Press

Program Description

For years I have tried to find a way to speak directly to children on the elementary school level, (K through 5) to contribute to their awareness of classical music with all its charms, and counter the overwhelming media blitz of rock, country, rap, and other music that children encounter in their daily lives.

Now I have a book, Polly and the Piano, that has seemed to be the perfect vehicle through which to reach children. It is about the friendship between a pianist and her dog, who lives underneath the piano, and ends up accompanying her to Carnegie Hall. The first several reviews that have come in corroborated this (one of which was The Philadelphia Inquirer, written by the music critic, and asserting the notion that children respond better than most adults think they will to well-performed masterworks.) The book comes with a music CD of my live performances.

The book lends itself to many different discussions:  the nature of classical music and the solo performer, the hard work involved in preparing a concert, what it means to be a writer; the responsibility and loneliness of a solo pianist on stage---(the reason why the woman pianist in the book would want to take her constant-companion dog along to Carnegie Hall), what makes a good listener (which the dog personifies), what to listen for in a performance, and brief information about the few short compositions I have found to play for these young audiences, sprinkled throughout my talk, that relate not only to the story (some Mozart , Chopin, and contemporary), but that are accessible to their ears.

I also ask questions of the children, and have found that they, in turn, have felt free to ask me questions back, and I invite and coax a couple of children to come to the piano for brief improvisations related to the music.

Then I read the book, accompanied by a Power Point program of slides of each page of the book and its watercolors (which I painted myself) on a large screen, and ask if there are any questions, of which there are, invariably, many. I believe that is because Polly is a sympathetic creature, and therefore a perfect "messenger" on behalf of music.

Each program takes approximately 45 minutes. Fees are set according to the length of the class period, the numbers of programs per day in a single school, or if the program is out-of-town, (i.e. a considerable distance from the Long Island area, please add travel expenses). The groups range from 50 to 200 at a time. I require a piano, a lap-top computer to run the Power Point program, and someone who knows how to operate that.

For some school programs, the books are at hand, with children prepared to buy it in school of they want it. In some communities, a local bookstore near the school coordinates its efforts with the school librarian, or a president of the parents' organization, (whoever is taking charge of the details.) It is especially effective when a letter from the Principal goes out to all the parents (several days before the date of the event), describing the upcoming event and encouraging parents to accompany their children to the bookshop after school that day for the signing, or being prepared to purchase the book if their child is interested in it.

Please contact the author at for more information


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