Brian Chevalier
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Becoming Brian | The Songspun Story

October 19th, 2017 in School Assemblies

suffern-songspun

I am so incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I love – providing character ed performances, residency programs, workshops and school assembly programs is the most rewarding career there is! Not only do I get to do what I love (make music!), but I get to travel to different schools around the country and perform as a Teaching Artist. My work has taken me from the Adirondacks to Pennsylvania, Connecticut to Virginia. Everywhere I go I get to teach,  learn and meet great students, staff and parents.

When I was a toddler, I’ve been told, I would sit in front of the television on Saturday nights and strum a breadboard along with Pete Williams, a country musician who played on a local show out of Albany, NY. When asked one year what I wanted for Christmas, I proudly answer a mung a mung. For weeks my family tried to figure out what this was, but it wasn’t until we were in a store one day that I pointed to a guitar and exclaimed, “a mung a mung!” I had invented this name based on the sound the guitar makes. That Christmas there was a toy “a mung a mung” under the tree for me.

My mother grew up on a farm in northern New York and inherited a love for music from my grandfather who loved to sing. She would often sing in the car when we went places and I loved it. I joined chorus in school, and although I wanted to play the trumpet, I never asked. When I was fifteen, I met a group of musician friends and we loved to sit aund campfires, playing guitar and singing. Eventually one of these friends began teaching me songs and would loan me his guitar to practice. I was instantly in love. Not long after, I got my first real guitar by trading some of my things and I wrote my first song…”The Clown Song.”

Music was my obsession all through high school and when I started college as a science major. In 1978, after taking a lesson there in finger style ragtime guitar, I transferred to Keene State College and changed my major to classical guitar. After I graduated, I spent some time in Boston, doing gigs with a friend before moving home and reuniting with my old music buddies. Together, we found local and then regional success, opening for Otis Day and The Knights, NRBQ and some other well know acts at college concerts.

From Performer to New York State Teaching Artist

Twenty years after I began playing throughout the northeast and Florida Keys, I met my wife and had our first child. Burnt out on playing 400 to 450 gigs a year, mostly in clubs, I felt lost and knew I needed a change. There were times I even thought about hanging up my music hat for good. After two years of some serious praying, soul searching, and looking to the universe for answers, I met a woman on a local arts council that asked me if I had ever heard of Arts in Education. I had always thought of using music to work with children and when she handed me an application for an apprenticeship program, I knew it was meant to be.

After completing my apprenticeship, the Capital Region Center for Arts in Education in Albany, NY, took me under their wing and provided me with extensive training before giving me residencies in schools. I was blessed with a lot of professional development from some of the most renowned teaching artists in the country. I began doing some programs on my own and eventually developed my own following in the schools. Today I travel and am happy to say that I’ve done character education, residency programs, workshops, and school assembly programs in hundreds of schools from upstate NY to Virginia.

I feel extremely blessed to do what I absolutely love! Kids are the most honest audience you will ever play for and I love working with them. Oh, and by the way…I also get to play music sometimes with the guitar player from the Pete Williams show.

You can listen to a few of  my school songs here. For more information or to book Songspun for your next school program or event, contact me directly at 518-798-2030!

 


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