Becky’s programs for the youngest set (pre-school and kindergarten) are highly participatory, with seasonal or theme-based songs, stories with join along parts, and singing games or movement if the setting is conducive to it. The stories are folktales and originals, with an occasional authored story added to the mix.
Performances for children from 8 – 12, and for families, involve more stories that are “just for listening.” They still involve some participation as the audience is encouraged to join along on a chant or a song or two. Stories are folktales, originals, and literary tales.
Becky has always loved libraries! She is known for being able to engage even the youngest listeners in her storytelling programs, and is able to bring a mix of stories that can appeal to the wide age range that is a usual library crowd. She always creates a program that ties in with local states’ summer reading programs, bringing a mix of songs and stories to each event.
Becky has visited hundreds of schools during her years on the New Hampshire and Vermont residency rosters. She can perform in whole school assemblies, though when possible she prefers smaller grade level performances and/or classroom visits.
Becky offers a “Performance Residency” which is a three-day visit to a school. It begins with an introductory performance or two (depending on school size) followed by classroom visits (with more age-appropriate stories and story-making activities), a parent/teacher workshop if desired, and a concluding family evening gathering.
Longer residencies are also available; days do not have to be consecutive except far from home. They can be theme based and can conclude in a final story sharing event if desired. They can also involve a “core group” of students, or a “core classroom,” in creating original stories, or in telling stories that they learn to students in other classrooms.
Becky has studied vocal improvisation with master teacher and performance artist Rhiannon. Rhiannon, a member of Bobby McFerrin’s “Voicestra”, has developed a range of musical activities that encourage fun and flexibility as they stretch the musical palate. Becky’s improv workshops, based on Rhiannon’s games, are totally participatory; they involve working in the whole group, small groups, and pairs to experience the thrill and comfort of experimenting with sound in a group of singers and sound-makers.
Becky is an experienced and sensitive keyboard player, with skills on piano, organ, pump organ, and accordion. She is known for her ability to accompany singers and ensembles. Becky can be the sole musician for special events, or she can put together a larger musical ensemble if one is called for. She plays regularly with The Thompson Players, a five piece ensemble featuring Becky on piano, her dad Dick Graber on clarinet, her husband Tim Ellis on trombone and mandolin, the great jokester Alan Bills on trumpet, and live-wire activities director Sandy Ware on drums. You can see (and hear!) the Thompson Players in action on July 9, 2011 when they played for a Guilford 250 celebration dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7beOqEGXP0.