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“Article_From_Wallkill_Valley_Times.pdf” - Matt Frey
— Wallkill Valley Times
“ CATSKILL — Remembering that everybody is unique and that just being yourself is totally fine was the message behind the music as Evan Gottfried strummed his guitar in the children’s section of the Catskill Public Library on a warm Saturday morning. Gottfried played a wide variety of songs aimed at children, all with an educational message hidden behind a simple kind of interactive fun where no screen or batteries are required. He said the inspiration to play kids’ songs comes from his job working with severely disabled special education students at a non-profit agency in Monticello. “I’ve always loved music, and I think it’s a great way for kids to learn that it’s OK to be yourself, to respect each other, and take care of the earth,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for [three] years and I love it.” He made the one-hour trip from Wallkill in Orange County along with his wife Maggie and his kids. A native of Long Island, he enjoys the pace of life in the Hudson Valley. He enjoys visiting libraries and schools all over the Hudson Valley. He especially likes the libraries because they are intimate venues and he enjoys getting to meet the different librarians. Maggie supports him during the interactive portions, and also makes the “props,” including a giant squid puppet he uses to teach youngsters about ocean life. Gottfried uses the interactive portions to keep kids engaged throughout the show. “Kids have a longer attention span than adults give them credit for,” he said. “The interactivity part really helps.” He believes kids like to be part of something like this, and that they still enjoy taking part in something that is real, as opposed to just taking part in action on a screen. A small, engaged audience of kids and their parents took part in the show. Among the highlights of the show was a song in which Gottfried used a giant squid puppet to teach kids about concepts like bioluminescence that allow sea creatures to light up. In a Kermit-the-Frog-like voice he joked with kids and talked about marine biology. He then played a lively tune where kids and their parents alike danced and moved their arms like squids, complete with lyrics that taught kids about various sea creatures. Another tune had more of an environmental message behind it. In this song, kids learned the concept that everyone on the planet shares the earth by shaking a giant [parachute] with a globe in the middle and by shaking the [parachute] they helped the globe to spin around. Yet another song gave kids an opportunity to learn a few words in sign language. The kids enjoyed taking part as Maggie shared a few words of the song in sign language with the kids. The last song was just for fun. It was about bubbles, and every kid enjoyed the chance to pop bubbles coming out of two large bubble machines. Even children’s librarian Jesse O’Dunne couldn’t resist taking part in the fun as he joined in with the kids during the activities. The families that came to Gottfried’s performance just stumbled upon it while browsing the library for books or video games for their kids. David Moore Jr. came in with his son David III to look for a video game. His son happily joined in on the program and dance and played along to almost every song. Catskill resident Courtney Near came in to look for books with her kids. “I’m glad we stumbled in on this thing,” he said. “It’s a really nice thing.” Another Catskill resident just happened to see the program while she was in the library, and her kids joined in on the fun for several songs. Everyone that stumbled in on Gottfried’s performance, left with a smile on his or her face. ” - Brian Hubert