The Wholesale Klezmer Band
at Your School

Wholesale Klezmer Band logo

See also:
Workshops and Educational Programs

For high school students: a program of music related to the Holocaust.
Lest We Forget.

Shvartze, broyne, gele, blase,
Ale nor eyn mentshlekh rase.

(Black, brown, yellow, white,
all just one human race.)
---------Yiddish folksong

Is there a better way for children to be introduced to the diversity of cultures that make up the people of our country than through music, stories, and dance? The Wholesale Klezmer Band introduces young audiences to Eastern European Jewish culture with instrumental music, songs for listening and singing along, participartory dancing, and storytelling.

[This is me dancing and having fun.]
[I Loved the part when...] Songs for our school events include humorous songs, songs about Jewish life, history, and values, issues of peace and justice, and intercultural understanding. Although all songs are performed in Yiddish or Ashkenazic (eastern European) Hebrew, everyone in the audience can understand them through subtitles on large display cards, simultaneous translation, storytelling, mime and props. Some of the songs are singalongs, for which we teach some of the Yiddish words to the children. Other songs have singalong choruses with simple nonsense syllables that the children sing. In some programs we include traditional and original Jewish stories that teach about Jewish life and thought. Songs and stories for any particular program are chosen on the basis of ages of the children.

Children love to dance, and we teach and lead dancing at a level of detail and complexity matched to the students abilities. The steps are simple and do not require everyone to be dancing of the same foot at the same time and we demonstrate the style and feeling of the traditional dances. We demonstrate and encourage variations including the "snake," "shining" in the center of the circle, weaving lines through each other, and acting out things in mime, and we explain the role dance plays in Jewish life.

With both songs and instrumental music, we introduce the distinctive elements of Yiddish melodies, scales or modes and rhythms, so the children can recognize similarities and differences between Yiddish music and styles of music that they are familiar with, and we invite students to discuss how the musical elements express different emotions.

[I liked that music because I've never heard it before.]

Jewish children and children of other cultures and religions love our performances, and so do their teachers and school administrators. The Wholesale Klezmer Band has been selected by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for its Event & Residency and Touring Rosters making school and community concerts eligible for subsidies. In New England states outside of Massachusetts, the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) provides funding for our programs. You can find out how to bring concerts and workshops by the Wholesale Klezmer Band to your school or organization by contacting:

Joe Kurland
The Wholesale Klezmer Band
Adamsville Road
Colrain, MA 01340

Pictures by the children of the
Colrain Elementary School, Colrain, MA
Spring, 1999

See also: Workshops and Educational Programs

For high school students, we also have a program of music related to the Holocaust. For more information, please see: Lest We Forget.

[children dancing.]

Colrain Central School
Colrain, MA

[children dancing.]

[I liked when I danced with everybody.]

The Wholesale Klezmer Band paid us a visit on April 9, 1999. They did two performances; pre k-3 and 4-6 grades. Both performances were excellent, the band members professional and the music was age-appropriate. With both performances I felt the students were challenged and they learned a lot about Jewish music and culture and the Yiddish language. This is a school population with little prior knowledge and I think the band gave them just enough information to process.

They broke up the sessions to include a segment on Jewish wedding dancing, and several times included the audience either by clapping, or stamping feet, dancing, or repeating phrases and songs. For the older children the English words on the placards to Yosl's song was perfect; it held their attention as they listened to the story within the song. I could tell Yosl had many years as a teacher; it showed.

As a follow-up I had several classes draw a "thank you" to the band. The response from all of the children was overwhelmingly positive: they "loved the dancing," liked how "Yosl made the chicken," and they "liked the music because they had never heard it before."

Thank you, Wholesale Klezmer Band for such a memorable experience for us all here at Colrain School. And thank you, Peggy, for the beautiful calligraphy of the children's names in Hebrew. Enclosed you will both find thank yous from a very grateful, and much enlightened, group of children.


Becky Clark

[Thank you!] [flute and bass.] [clarinet.]
[That band was so cool!] [accordion.]

Please also have a look at letters of reference from Mary Ann Clarkson, Principal of Erving, Massachusetts elementary school, and Alice Grunfeld, Executive Director of Kamp Kinderland in Tolland, Massachusetts.

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Wholesale Klezmer Band
Peggy H. Davis Calligraphy