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Matthew tells stories and sings songs, all performed in ways that involve the audience. The standard program usually includes:

  • A sing-along or two with the guitar to warm up the audience
  • One or two a cappella songs that involve movement (such as some basic sign language or imitations of critters)
  • A story that involves the audience either by collecting ideas from them or by including them in a refrain, either spoken or sung
  • Some sort of improvisation in song, story, or movement
  • Songs accompanied by other instruments such as accordion, banjo, or ukulele

Much of the content of Matthew’s performance has a leaning toward respect for nature, but there are many other layers to his program, including outright silliness and goofiness, raucous creativity, humor for adults, and awareness of the commonalities in the human condition across culture, age, and time.

Some other program features that sometimes enter into Matthew’s program (which can be requested if desired) are:

  • Foreign-language songs including French, Spanish, Russian, and Hebrew
  • “Melody Dancing,” which is whimsical movement led by wordless songs
  • Songs and stories about Vermont

In collaboration with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Matthew as the “Champlain Troubadour” offers Songs and Stories of Lake Champlain, a program that can be oriented toward kids or the general public. The program is an interesting and fun exploration into the environment and history of the Champlain Valley.

Swing Peepers' Artists-In-Residency Program
John Hadden and Matthew also go into schools to help groups of kids write their own original songs. Their artist-in-residency, called “Play to Your Strengths”, has reached hundreds of kids across Vermont and beyond. The program has garnered tremendously positive and enthusiastic feedback from kids, teachers, and parents. Click here for the Swing Peepers' Residency page.

Matthew’s Storytelling Residency “Free the Imagination”
Join Matthew in an exploration of word-play, mimicry, pictures, weird noises, grab-bags, song snippets, silly faces and family history. Using stimulating and creative play, Matthew invites students to free their imaginations and gain the confidence to tell their own stories.

Matthew believes that storytelling provides many benefits to participants including: a bridge between generations; a resource for kids and their families to find meaning in daily life; a rich sensory alternative to mass media; and, a fun way to exercise the mind. When we free our imagination, we grow to see life’s challenges as opportunities.

Goals of the Residency
Matthew’s goals in offering the songwriting residency “Free the Imagination” are:

  • Playfully guide the students in an exploration of the elements of telling a story
  • Help students become comfortable, creative and free to use words, facial expressions, body language, and other means to express their ideas and experiences
  • Gently encourage students to listen attentively to others’ stories and to be comfortable sharing their own.

Schedule and Fees
“Free the Imagination” storytelling residency is aimed at children ages 4-10. The residency is based on a five-day school week and may include a workshop for teachers and/or parents. The base rate is $1,000. Additional fees apply for mileage, adult workshops and culminating presentation.

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