Gary Dulabaum today

APOLOGIES: This past month has been unusual. I was out of town for several days. Five hours after we returned, my mother-in-law had her stroke. Graveside services were Wednesday. Today I leave for NCTE. All this by way of saying I’m sorry to be such a poor host this month. This coming week I’ll be lucky to post many times but I hope you’ll understand. I’ll get back on track in December. Until then, thank you for your continued participation and contributions.

Hello everyone,

Yesterday you met Gary Dulabaum and today it is my pleasure to present him as my Featured Guest. I love what he has to say and am sure that you will find his ideas insightful, creative, and instructive. Please use the comment section below to leave your responses. Thanks, Gary!

The Power of Communication

by Gary Dulabaum

Teaching students how to clearly and creatively communicate is my main goal as an educator and author. When communication breaks down, problems occur. (Lack of communication can lead to daily problems like fighting, or having difficulties in school, and can blossom into life-long struggles with drugs and alcohol.) Much of the time I spend in schools is spent teaching kids how to say (or more appropriately, sing) the things they feel they need to share. However, since communication is a two-way process, I also spend time teaching kids how to listen to each other. Active listening is an important skill we all need to have: when students know their audience won’t be judging them, but instead will be offering suggestions, constructive feedback, and their own feelings on the matter, they will be more apt to share what’s troubling them.

We can all learn from each other, and creative expression (like songwriting or poetry) presents a way for everyone—teachers and students—to open up and share their thoughts in a productive way. Students on the edge of trouble will almost always drop hints, but people need to be listening in order to hear them. People need to know that others care. They want to feel safe.

All students need the venue and the time to say what’s on their minds. Including songwriting in your curriculum will allow your students to express themselves in a creative, safe way where they know they won’t be judged. They will learn to take ownership for what they say and do, and take responsibility for their actions and words. In short, teaching your students how to write songs will teach them that they belong in the world, and that they can say things that are important to people other than themselves.

Music is a powerful teaching tool. The rhythmic patterns of the lines and verses make words easy to learn, and the beat can encourage students to find their own voices. Once you let your students know that they can create cool songs with cool beats to help them learn what they need to know, there will be a change in your classroom. And when your students have learned the power of creativity, they will always have a tool they can use to help them through the problems in their lives.

Songs—like books—are true celebrations of language. It is my hope that all of you reading this will come to realize the power of music and songwriting, and their true connection to the language arts.

Why Songwriting?

My main tool for connecting with students and celebrating language is through songwriting. Why songwriting? Because classroom songwriting has many benefits: it‘s a fun way to learn, it‘s a great way for students to hone their research and question-forming skills, it promotes reading (in order to be a good writer/songwriter you need to be a reader), it‘s a way to help students connect with their own personal creativity and become actively engaged in their own learning process, it is a great way to bring the class together (such as a group project, like writing a class song), it is a self-esteem builder (sharing ideas takes courage), and it helps develop writing skills ( having fun plus being creative equals more writing).Through the years I have seen, first hand, how children‘s creativity, self-esteem and imaginations come to life through songwriting in the classroom. “Teachers know students (children) learn best when they are actively engaged and excited by the learning process.”

Why Sing A Book?

Gary Dulabaum

Why sing a book
You may ask yourself
Aren’t books for reading
And sitting on a shelf?

That’s much too limiting
I would say
A book should be sung
In a most lyrical way.

Let the words roll
Right off your tongue,
Yes, books are for reading
But some books can be sung.

(This article is from my book My Teacher Rides A Harley and my journal notes).

Gary Dulabaum tomorrow

REMINDER: I leave Friday for NCTE in Orlando to present Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. The second part of my program will feature two-voice poems selected from handouts and read by members of the audience. In addition to my own two-voice poems I’ve included some by Georgia Heard, Paul Fleischman, and Bobbi Katz.

We’ll have a lot of fun and I hope to see a good turnout. I’m on from 8:00 – 9:15 Saturday morning in the Coronado/Yucatan Room. Come if you can and/or tell others who might be attending the conference to come to my session.h4

Hello everyone,
You are about to meet one of America’s best known proponents of music education. That is a very simplified statement of what Gary Dulabaum is all about so I’ll let you read his bio today and his great article tomorrow. Here’s what Gary sent to share about himself. Thanks, Gary.


Gary Dulabaum is an author, educator, poet, songwriter and recording artist of children’s music and he understands first-hand the power of music and the performing arts as teaching tools in the everyday classroom. In fact, in a perfect world, Gary believes music would be integrated into the whole curriculum. Personal creativity, emotional development, self-expression, good decision making, and the development of the whole child/student would be just as important as any test score.

In this perfect world, language arts instruction would include reading, writing, music, movement, drama, dance, performance poetry, the visual arts, and the study of rhythm and how rhythm affects and relates to language. These subjects are all celebrations of language and are the true tools that people need to be able to clearly and creatively communicate throughout their lives.

Gary has been called an innovative educator who knows how to put the arts back into the language arts. Through the years he has seen the joy that music and the performing arts bring to the classroom and how it levels the playing/learning field for all students.

Whether it be a song/movement activity for preschoolers and kindergartners to help them make the link from oral to printed language; or a second grade class writing a song about their favorite book that they’ll later take from the page to the stage; or maybe some fifth graders singing historical songs about subjects they are studying with the intent on re-writing and updating with a more modern message and presentation; music, rhythm, performance poetry and songwriting are Gary’s main teaching tools.

As an educational Consultant, author and performing artist, Gary has visited several thousand schools across the nation and beyond and has keynoted, presented and entertained at many local, state, regional and national conferences. He has been a regular presenter for the International Reading Association since 1993.

Gary was a Guest Lecturer in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney for 12 years teaching a series of classes for pre-service and practicing teachers that included using music and the arts not only to expand, enhance and further develop fluency and comprehension skills but to also demonstrate how music is an effective everyday teaching tool that can be used across the curriculum.

He is author of professional teaching guide My Teacher Rides a Harley: Enhancing K-5 Literacy through Songwriting and has released six recordings of his original music. Gary also has two of his songs in Nile Stanley’s book, Creating Readers with Poetry.

Gary is also a full-time professional musician who grew up in that rich Northeastern Ohio music scene where bluegrass, old timey, country, rock, punk, jazz and folk were all being played, Gary’s earliest musical influence was his guitar, banjo, bass, keyboard & ukulele-playing father, Marion, who also sang tenor in a quartet. As a young boy, Gary also found musical inspiration from two great aunts: Ruth and Helen Chapel of Akron, Ohio. Ruth was a jazz pianist and poet who loved to play Gershwin tunes and Helen was a folk ballad singer whose singing was collected by the late Ohio folklorist Mary Olive Eddy. Helen’s version of the folk ballad “Mary Maid of the Moor” appears in the Ballads and Songs from Ohio collection.

So there’s a little bit about a very busy guy. Come back tomorow to read his thoughts and suggestons.David

Poetry workshop next June


Recently I mentioned that I’ll do a three-day poetry workshop next June in Honesdale, Pennsylvania as part of Hightlights Foundation’s series of Founders Workshops. The information is up now at this link:

For specific information about my workshop, scroll down to this and click on my name. It would be great to see some of you there. Workshops fill up quickly because there is only room for ten or twelve people.

June 2–5, 2011
Somebody Ought to Write a Poem
Workshop Leader: David Harrison

We leave in the morning for a week in Florida. I’ll take my laptop but you never know how much will get done on a family trip. Look forward to seeing Nancy Gow next Wednesday, the 21st, as my next Guest Reader. Gary Dulabaum is coming up soon as a Featured Friday Guest, maybe as soon as next week.

I hope that everyone is having a good summer.


Announcing upcoming guest: Gary Dulabaum

BULLETIN: Tomorrow I’ll post Poetry Tip #7: THE QUATRAIN. I hope you will find it useful.

On April 2, Nile Stanley appeared as my guest and one of those who commented on Nile’s fascinating contribution was Gary Dulabaum. I’ve met Gary and enjoyed his enormous talent as a writer, performer, musician, wit, and all-around charismatic personality so I asked if he would be my guest sometime when his schedule allows.Now I can tell you that Gary has agreed. It may be a while before we get him posted here on a Friday but I’m already looking forward to hosting him when he’s ready.

Don’t forget to vote for your selections for May Hall of Fame Poet and May Hall of Fame Young Poet. Polls close on May 30. Here’s the link: