For Children

Over the past decade, Jill has been invited to junior and high schools as an artist-in-residence, giving a variety of educational programs. Here you’ll find summaries of some of these, which she has presented at schools and other venues. She is planning more programs, so watch this space.

To see a record of where each program has been performed, see each separate page.

“Jill was a major hit with our kids!”

“Jill is wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! …her school visits yesterday went extremely well. The children loved her!”

A Train Ride Around the World In this program, Jill takes younger children (ages 5-10) on a musical journey across the world map. (Organisers, please note: it helps her greatly if there is actually a map on the wall so that she can show the children where each country lies.) She begins, of course, in New Zealand, with a medley of Maori songs, and stops in such places as Israel (where she currently lives), Poland (where her father was born), several other places in Europe, the British Isles and the Americas. At various points in the 40-minute program, Jill teaches the children the chorus of a song, or an entire song. She chooses only texts and/or melodies that are easy to sing. For example, the song from Israel is accompanied by hand actions. Instead of getting the children to sing in Hebrew, she shows them the hand movements, and they concentrate on this aspect: general hilarity is almost guaranteed! This truly international program, which has met with enthusiastic responses in the United States and New Zealand, can be adjusted to suit child audiences in different countries.

Rolling Round the World With a world map to track her journey, Jill shows intermediate and high-school students (ages 12-17) the richness of traditional song around the world. Touching upon issues currently being discussed the world over, she demonstrates the similarities between people despite their cultural differences. This inspiring and thought-provoking program introduces the students not only to languages and music they may not have heard before, but also to ideas of social relevance which can tie in with courses in social studies and history in any school.

What is Folk Song? This 40-minute program is for older children (from 13 years upward), and is particularly suitable for youth who are taking music courses at school. Jill begins with Danny Boy, the famous Irish song, then dives back in time to the days of the troubadours of Provence, to demonstrate how ‘art song’ and ‘folk song’ have intertwined over the centuries. She then proceeds to touch upon many different genres, cultures and languages, ending with one of her own songs in English, Racheli. This thought-provoking program has been well received in the United States and Germany.

The Voice of the Wanderer: In this 40-minute program for older children (from 9 years upward), Jill introduces traditional songs in Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish and Aramaic from different communities around the world. She tells the story of each song and demonstrating the rich variety of the Jewish musical heritage. Particularly appropriate for schools with a strong Jewish element in their curriculum and Hebrew schools in Jewish communities.

A Circle, A Cycle: In this 40-minute program for younger children (ages 5-10), Jill invites the children to explore and celebrate the passage of time — day and night, the four seasons of the year, and the life cycle — through traditional and contemporary songs from around the world.

Singing the Americas: In this 40-minute program for older students (from 11 years upward), Jill travels the Americas in song, showcasing the variety, beauty and excitement of the music and cultures of different communities in North, South and Central America.

Meet the Harp: In this 40-minute program, Jill introduces the harp to students aged 10 years and upwards. She explains about the different kinds of harps and the variety of music she plays on this instrument, and talks about her work with it in therapeutic settings (age appropriately).

green Celtic knot

Jill reports on her work with young people, February 2004
[originally published in a private newsletter, March 2004]

“How old are you? 65?” “How many kids do you have?” “Do you speak all the languages in the whole wide world?” I’ve always wanted to work with children, using my music to open up the world to them, as my father opened it up for me when I was very small. I began thinking about a musical program for elementary schools years ago, but never went further than trying out a couple of ideas with Tal and Lisa’s classes over the years. The children all responded well, but I wasn’t sure whether that was just because most of them knew me as one of the class ‘mums’.

Then, on my second American tour in 2002, a dear friend found me some school ‘gigs’ in his town in Pennsylvania. Four concerts in two days: five schools, several hundred children. The die was cast: there was no turning back now. It was a wonderful experience from the first, and I was determined to reach more children on my third tour, in February 2004. In the end, I sang for more children than for adults: children from ages 3 to 18… around 1,000 of them! And what a beautiful lot they were: I just wanted to take some of them home with me.

With the elementary schools, I generally repeated the Train Ride Round the World program that had premiered so auspiciously in 2002; when it came to the really little ones, of course, I had to tweak it and be flexible. At one point, while waiting for the first concert of the morning to start, I found myself tuning up in the playground. It wasn’t long before some of the three-year-olds had gathered around me, asking me about the guitar, and helping me to play songs (i.e. I played the chords and they gently strummed — at one point, five of them at a time). After my final ‘recital’ in that particular school, one little boy winsomely asked me to read him a story. I would have loved to; in fact, I would have liked to stay all day. Other children blew me kisses as they filed back to class, or came over to give me a hug. As I crouched there, tying shoe-laces, an enterprising child in one school yelled “Quick! Get her autograph! Maybe she’ll be famous one day!” (I had a good laugh about that one.)

I was delighted by the children’s response to not only the different kinds of music, but also the various languages they were hearing for the first time. They generally sat starry-eyed, but joined in with alacrity whenever asked. I had them doing sign language to an Israeli song, and then singing in Polish (yes!), French and Welsh. They also played percussive sounds with hands and feet for the Scots Gaelic and Apache songs, and then joined in with that old favourite since I was two, The Lollipop Tree, and the cumulative song The Rattling Bog. They were all astounded that I could sing the last song so quickly.
However, my favourite response came, each time, when I sang them a lullaby in Manx Gaelic: time and again, from ages 5-11, many of the kids just keeled over each other like a bunch of puppies, and either rested or went completely to sleep. The teachers’ faces were a treat.

Question-time turned out to be fun, too. Sometimes they just wanted to share important matters with me, but some kids asked such things as “What’s different about living in Israel?” (Answer: People talk loudly, using their hands a lot.) “What do you like doing in Israel?” (Answer: Eating!) “Did you see where they filmed The Lord of the Rings?, and Do you have hairy feet?” (I explained — poker-faced — that I always shave them before I embark on a tour.)

One child, aged 8-9 years old, had all the adults gasping at his perspicacity. I had shown them on the map where my father was born (Poland) and he immediately raised his hand and asked whether he had “been in the Holocaust”. We were prodigiously impressed by the speed of the connection he made.

Another boy, responding to my Maori medley at the beginning of the concert, began moving his arms and body in time to the music. I saw a teacher hurry over and try to stop him, which saddened me because his response was so instinctive. I asked him whether he’d ever been to New Zealand or to Hawaii, and when he said no, I complimented his instinct in understanding the way the Maori dancers/singers move when they sing their lovely songs. He looked pleased and proud, while the teacher looked a little sheepish. Oh dear. Still, there was lots of laughter, so I hope it was a learning experience for everyone.

When it came to the high schools, I had to plan other programs entirely. For one class, the choral society, I spoke about the development of my musical career and song-writing. For the others, I put together a more sophisticated version of my first program, deliberately introducing subjects that are currently under discussion the world over (e.g. integration into the larger society vs. keeping and appreciating one’s own special culture/language etc. in the home; endangered cultures and languages, social action).

Again, the students were very receptive, and enjoyed trying out a hypnotic Zulu work chant at the end. Some of them decided on the spot to do some kind of folk music project for their final school assignment. I couldn’t have been more delighted. Others crowded around me at the end of this particular program to ask me about different tunings for my instruments. I could tell that they were longing to get home to their guitars and try out these new ideas. For myself, it was hard to leave them all behind.

I plan to work with more youngsters wherever and whenever I can on future tours.

green Celtic knot

A review of Jill’s program What Is Folk Song?

[a translation into English follows, below]

Badische Zeitung, 7. Oktober, 2004
1000 Jahre, stets dieselben Gefühle

Die jüdische Sängerin Jill Rogoff gestaltet mit Realschul-Achtklässlern eine Musikstunde der etwas anderen, besonderen Art

“Neustadt. Jill Rogoff holte gestern die weite Welt in den Musiksaal der Realschule. Die in Neuseeland aufgewachsene Jüdin, die seit 1979 in Israel lebt, hielt für die Achtklässler der besonderen Art.

“Die professionelle Musikerin, eine zierliche Frau mit großer Energie, kam mit Gitarre, Schoßharfe und Lied texten in etlichen Sprachen.‘Jill Rogoff bringt ganz viel Einmaligkeit mit’ kündigt Lehrerin Claudia Götz an und verspricht damit nicht zu viel. An die “andere Stimme” der Künstlerin müsse man sich erst gewöhnen, schickt sie dem ersten Lied voraus, wohl wissend, dass die 14-Jährigen in aller Regel andere Musikstile bevorzugen. Doch die mehr als 60 Jungen and Mädchen der 8c und 8d, die gerade zu Jill Rogoffs “zweiter Runde” in den Musiksaal geströmt sind, hören aufmerksam zu. Ihr Gast kann in 37 Sprachen singen, erfahren sie – ungläubiges Erstaunen. Ihren Unterricht hält sie in Englisch, Claudia Götz übersetzt bei Bedarf.

“Jill Rogoff packt viel in diese zwei Unterrichtsstunden. Sie möchte ihren jungen Zuhören vermitteln, dass der Begriff Volkslieder viel mehr beinhaltet, als diese denken. Ihr Repertoire umfasst tausend Jare, sagt sie, aber die Menschen fühlen immer gleich, lassen sich immer wieder von den selben Themen berühren. Zur Gitarre singt Jill Rogoff Danny Boy, den von einem Engländer stammenden berühmtesten irischen Folksong, wie sie nachher erzählt. Ihr glockenheller Sopran lässt sofort an Joan Baez denken, die große amerikanische Sängerin der Bürgerrechts- und Friedensbewegung… Nachdenklich stimmt sie später offenbar das 2002 von Rogoff komponierte Lied Racheli, die Geschichte eines israelischen Mädchens, das Opfer einer Selbstmordattentäterin wird.

“Musik mache sie schoon ihr ganzes Leben lang, beantwortet die Künstlerin die Frage eines Schülers. Mit drei Jahren habe sie in der Familie zu singen begonnen. Zwei Jahre Klavierunterricht, ein paar Monate Stimmtraining- ein Studium brauchte die Israeli nicht, um ihren ganz eigenen Stil zu entwickeln.”– Annemarie Zwick

green Celtic knot

“For 1,000 years, the feelings remain the same

Jewish singer Jill Rogoff gives the eighth grade an hour of something different — a distinctive art

“Neustadt. Yesterday Jill Rogoff held the whole wide world in the music room of the Realschule. This New Zealand-raised Jewish woman, who has lived in Israel since 1979, presented her distinctive art to the eighth grade.

“A petite woman with great energy, this professional musician arrived equipped with guitar, harp and the lyrics of songs in various languages. “Jill Rogoff brings something totally unique,” states teacher Claudia Götz: she is not promising too much. One must get used to this ‘other voice’ and Rogoff offers the first song from the 14th century, knowing full well that her listeners prefer a different musical style. The more than 60 youngsters of the eighth grade who attend the ‘second round’ of Rogoff’s session in the music room, listen nonetheless. Their visitor sings in 37 languages and dialects — astonishing. She gives her lesson in English, with Claudia Götz translating where necessary.

“Rogoff packs a great deal into these two hours of instruction. She intends to show her young listeners that folk song encompasses far more than is usually thought. Her repertoire covers some 1,000 years, she tells them, but people have remained much the same, always being concerned with the same issues. Accompanying herself on guitar, Rogoff sings Danny Boy, written by an Englishman, but considered the most famous of Irish folk songs. Her bell-like soprano voice calls to mind Joan Baez, the great American singer so closely associated with the Civil Rights and Freedom movements. Later, Rogoff sings a song that she wrote in 2002: Racheli. This is the story of a young Israeli girl who was murdered by a suicide bomber.

“She has been making music her whole life, as she relates in answer to a pupil’s question. From around the age of three, she began to sing within her family circle. There were two years of piano instruction and a few months of vocal training; studies in Israel were not necessary for the development of her totally unique style.”green Celtic knot

To see letters from some of the hundreds of children for whom Jill has sung, click here.

Medieval woodcut; from Spiegel des menschlichen Lebens, published in Augsburg about 1475-6

Medieval woodcut; from Spiegel des menschlichen Lebens, published in Augsburg about 1475-6