Dr. Abe’s Playshops For Schools
  • Cross-cultural, Interdisciplinary, Interactive.
  • Can accommodate up to 200-300 students, but smaller is better.
  • All props are provided: Authentic instruments and the dragon for the “Dragon Dance.” The school provides the PA system, and a piano if the Caribbean program is selected.
  • Runtime: 50 – 60 minutes

Enter the Dragon: An Introduction to Chinese Music, Culture and Dragon Lore

Students learn simplified rhythms on authentic instruments: gu (drum), bo (cymbals), and luo (gongs) as well as basic steps of the dragon dance. Some students perform the dance as others provide instrumental accompaniment. In the process, students learn the concept of tonal language, identify and reproduce tones of Mandarin Chinese, discover differences between the Western and Asian concepts of the mythical dragon, and discuss color symbolism in a cross-cultural context.

This program is excellent for elementary and middle school students.

El Merengue: A Caribbean Song Dance Form

Simplified, yet authentic rhythms are taught on the tambora (a drum), guiro (a scraper), and sencerro (cowbell). Students learn the basic steps to this couple dance from the Dominican Republic. We put it all together in a bilingual call and response song written by Dr. Abe called “El Merengue.” In the process, students: learn some Spanish phrases and are introduced to the concept of melorhythm, recognize the musical and social relationships between various musical instruments, and identify the African, Spanish and Native American components of the meringue to understand the historical context in which this song dance form evolved.

This program is excellent for elementary through high school students.

African Rhythms of Life: Building Community through Song and Play

Students learn a traditional children’s stone passing song-game of the Akan people of Ghana.

In the process students learn

  • About the relationship between tonal languages and the talking drum
  • Learn a few phrases in Twi, one of the national languages of Ghana
  • Discuss the meaning of the song in terms of its cultural context
This program is great for upper elementary school students.

Simama! Kaa! (Stand! Sit!): A Song-game from Tanzania

Students learn play an African variation of “Simon Says.”

In the process students

  • Learn about East Africa, and a few phrases in Kiswahili, one of the national languages of Tanzania
  • Play authentic ngoma, drums, and other percussion instruments
  • Learn to listen to drumming as both rhythm AND melody
This program is best for K4 and lower elementary school students.

Oasis of Peace: Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

Students will learn:

  • Rhythms on traditional Middle Eastern instruments
  • A song in Arabic and Hebrew
  • Debka and Hora dance steps
  • A cross-cultural story of peace in a time and land of turmoil
This program is best for upper elementary school, middle school and high school students.

Cumpleanos: Your Birthday Miracle

An exciting interactive program.  Originally designed for middle school students, it can be adapted for elementary or high school students.  The activity focus is the percussion, dance and song of a Puerto Rican form known as “Plena.”  Students play simple rhythms on congas, panderos (hand drums), güiro (scraped gourd), and sencerro (cowbell). In the process they learn about the African, Spanish and Amerindian components of Caribbean cultures.  The central message of the program is that each of us is a miracle when we are born, and continue to be a miracle throughout our entire journey of life.

Scott Joplin: Genius Ahead of His Time

This is a vignette of the amazing life of Scott Joplin.  The son of a slave, and a free born woman, Scott grew up in the town of Texarkana, and came to be known as the “King of Ragtime.”  Dr. Abe, plays a mature Scott Joplin reminiscing about the angels in his life who accompanied him through challenges and successes.

This 30 minute, captivating presentation of music and drama is best suited for high school students and adults