Acoustic Group Seeks To Teach Kids Through Interactive Concerts
Benjamin and Analisa Gauthier weren’t planning on becoming professional musicians, but they say they always wanted to work with children. The duo, known as BenJammin and Analisa, now uses their musical talents to create educational songs for not only children, but all age levels.
Looking back, it seems like Analisa and Benjamin Gauthier were destined to work with kids.
“We both went to college to study music and early childhood development. I was going to be a teacher, I took a lot of psychology classes. So, we both understood how children learn, and how they grow, and what they need in order to be taught and retain the information,” says Analisa.
“I was in kindergarten, and I wanted to work at Disneyland because that would be the most fun job. And I think we’ve embraced the quality of, if there was something magical that could be occurring, if there was a Disney kind of feeling of, that energy, and that, we try to create that,” adds Benjamin.
The duo says that education and music coincide in a way that allows children to retain the information more easily and for a longer period of time.
“Ten years from now, these kids are still going to be singing these songs and have this information at their fingertips. So we’ve put important concepts into song," says Analisa.
"Like the 50 states, we put into a song, so the 3rd grade teacher can save six weeks of teaching because the children will just memorize it really quickly. The number one thing you can do is give them a lot of different techniques to learn and information will be retained.”
Jessica Firth, an occupational therapist at WoodsEdge Learning Center, brings her children to BenJammin and Analisa’s performances at Old Dog Tavern every Saturday morning. The mother of two says that the educational aspect of their music attracted her to the duo.
“Music teaches the students how to, you know apply different things that they learn throughout listening to the music and then also the movement is wonderful for them as well,” says Firth.
BenJammin and Analisa’s shows are very interactive. They bring small instruments for children to play, and even invite them up on stage. Parents like Neil Gram say it’s a great way to get their kids involved and moving.
“I think it helps them to learn the things, they seem to pick up on the ideas a whole lot better through the music. So we play it in the car and things like that. We have one of the albums, so it’s very beneficial,” says Gram.
The Gauthiers believe that the interaction with the kids boosts their confidence at a young age. Benjamin says it helps them tackle things like stage fright.
“Yes, I do dream that there’s that, when there’s that child up on stage and they’re singing that one song for the first time, they’re overcoming that fear. And I can picture them 30 years from now and they’re in front of the board, sealing that multi-billion dollar deal with that same kind of not fear. I’m here, I’ve done this before, I did this when I was 5-years-old,” he says.
Outside of their performances at Old Dog Tavern and other local bars, the duo was given a grant by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo to play at elementary schools.
“We got the grant last year to go to seven elementary schools, and then this year we got the grant to go to nine elementary schools. So we’re going to these elementary schools in Kalamazoo County and it’s free of charge to the school. It’s a 45 minute program and we do all five, 600 kids in one assembly,” says Benjamin Gauthier.
Part of the song writing process for the Gauthier’s includes taking the time to learn about the subject.
“We learn the subject really well. We put the 50 states into a song, I spent two weeks with a map, to figure out if I could geographically move through the United States without crossing the same state twice cause if we’re singing it in a song we can’t repeat a state," says Analisa Gauthier.
The duo doesn’t only write for children, but all students - even at a college level. Their album is set to come out in December is geared towards third through seventh grade.
“We’ve been working on this album for a few years, we did a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for it, and this one is called Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. And it’s all bigger concepts,” says Analisa.