School, Homeschool, Afterschool & In School Residencies & Enrichment Programs
Our Award Winning Directors Betina Hershey & Nick Russo have an extensive performing and educating resume as teaching artists in school, after school, and with a wide range of ages from 3 to 103, from pre-school to college. Their professional resumes are full of prestige and variety and include performing in the Julia Roberts feature film Mona Lisa’s Smile, Disney’s Enchanted, the Broadway tour of The Phantom of the Opera (Meg), recording and playing with Jon Batiste of the Colbert Show, the Beatles’ Paul McCartney, and so much more.
All Garden Players teachers meet a high standard. They work professionally in their field, are experienced teaching and inspiring children, and understand that compassion, joy, understanding, and leading by example are strong components of creating a safe, brave learning environment. We believe theater and music opens doors to ourselves, our world, our ideas, and to possibility.
We have brought music and theater classes to many programs and schools in the neighborhood including PS144 (2010-2020 enrichment during the school day), PS101 (2004-2010 afterschool), and PS303 (2023-current afterschool).
Below are some of the many enrichment/afterschool programs available.
(Grades 1-8) • Encourage students to think on their feet, work as a group, say yes to each other, and get creative. Dive into the fun of acting improv. Yes And, gibberish, rants, creative characters, dynamic scenes, exploration of space, and story prompts encourage bravery and creativity.
Musical Theater Performance
(Grades 1-3, 4-6, 6-8) • Learn performing skills. Put on a performance of scenes, monologues, and songs from a Broadway musical or choose a one act musical to perform. Beat by Beat and Garden Players original musicals are the perfect length and written just for kids these ages and were written by Betina Hershey and her collaborators.
Folk Songs That Inspire Change
Folk songs inspire discussion and community.
Folk songs can help change the world with funny lyrics, serious topics, catchy melodies, and phrases that hook us in, reminding us to look deeper at the environment, diversity, and the many perspectives and voices that must be heard. Led by NYC musician/educator/composer Betina Hershey or a trained Garden Players composer/musician, this innovative method of music literacy includes solfeggio, music reading and writing, rhythm compositions, and performance techniques through songs that inspire discussion and community. This folk song enrichment program can culminate in a Folk Song Sing-Along. www.betinahershey.com www.gardenplayers.com
Music Theory Games and Songs
(Grades K, 1, 2) Local and touring
musician, educator, and composer Betina Hershey brings in innovative methods of child music literacy with a great sense of fun to young ages. This program is taught by Garden Players professional musicians/composers/educators and is based on the Kodaly music method with the idea that every single human being can sing on pitch, feel the beat, keep rhythm, learn to sight sing, notate music, and understand music as a language. Concepts covered include solfeggio notes, rhythms, pitch, music reading, music note placement, music games and songs, both a cappella and with guitar accompaniment. www.betinahershey.com www.gardenplayers.com
Music Theory and Vocal Performance
(Grades 3-6) Develop greater confidence,
teamwork and musicianship through harmony, classical rounds, positive and energized body language, vocal technique, songs from the traditional American songbook, jazz scat singing, popular songs, and music theory including solfeggio, rhythm training, music reading and writing. This culminates with a performance at a school event or a more informal sharing day. www.betinahershey.com www.gardenplayers.com
Musical Theater Writing
(Grades 1-8) Adapt a book into a mini-musical,
learn musical theater song structures, improvise and write scenes and songs collaboratively, and share. To promote full body learning, students use vocal warm-ups, movement and acting improv to explore ideas. Led by Garden Players teachers trained by NYC local and touring musician/composer/writer Betina Hershey who has 5 children’s musicals published by Beat by Beat Press with more that 2,000 productions in over 35 countries, and leads two bands: The Scooches and Hot Jazz Jumpers. www.betinahershey.com www.gardenplayers.com
(Grades 1-8) • Write songs and learn how
to find the hook, identify and write within song forms, use rhyme schemes, and create melodies that catch the ear. Learn how to let creativity flow, and then edit. We’ll use music theory, solfeggio, ear training, rhythm composition, rounds, and well known songs as our guides. Led by NYC local and touring musician/composer/writer Betina Hershey who has 5 children’s musicals published by Beat by Beat Press with more that 2,000 productions in over 35 countries, and leads two bands: The Scooches and Hot Jazz Jumpers. www.betinahershey.com www.gardenplayers.com
(Grades 3-6) Develop greater
confidence, Learn Guitar from Jon Batiste’s band member! From classical guitar to the blues to The Beatles to Indian Raga to soundtrack excerpts from Star Wars & Frozen! Improvise, sight read, play world rhythms and form your own band with opportunities to compose your own original music! Instructor, NickRusso, M.A., B.S.
Learn ukulele & introduction to guitar, from Beatles to Indian Raga to excerpts from Star Wars & Frozen! Improvise, sight read, play world rhythms and form your own band with opportunities to compose your own original music!
Instructor, NickRusso, M.A., B.S.
Nick Russo has performed with Paul McCartney, Jimmy McGriff, Russell Hall; appears on ABC’s Good Morning America, PBS The Chaperone, Sam Mendes: Away We Go, PBS Kids Peg Plus Cat, Lincoln Center, tours around the world and co-leads The Scooches & Hot Jazz Jumpers with Betina Hershey
From the PS144 Backpack News 2020 (Betina has been teaching Music and Musical Theater Writing Residencies and Enrichment at PS144 since 2010 with a variety of programs for grades K-5.)