By Debbie Laure
Students across the country are learning important life lessons and academic skills from the music of Vicksburg residents, Ben and Analisa Gauthier, who make up BenJammin Educational Music.
They perform about 14 interactive programs a week, each lasting about 35 to 45 minutes.
Their goal is to teach kids through audience participation and song about important concepts such as health, hygiene, safety, conflict resolution and core subjects such as vocabulary, math and geography. They have written over 500 songs. For example, their United States song not only teaches the states but puts them in driving order so that students are also learning geography at the same time. All of this goes along with hand drums, guitars, ukulele, drum sticks, stories, a few puppets and tons of fun.
Ben says he’s “been jammin” to music all of his life, so in 1995 when he decided that his music was really going to be his full time occupation this seemed like the perfect name for him and his business so now BenJammin is his name.
He is from Bay City, Michigan, where he began playing the guitar at 13 and then writing songs. He has always loved children and music so he came to WMU to study education and music.
While in college, Ben also worked at Calico Corners Daycare where he used music to teach, discovering that the children’s attention span and memory were better with this method. His songs became so popular he was soon getting requests from teachers and then was asked to come to other preschools. He graduated from WMU with his BS in Integrated Arts.
After meeting Analisa, a graduate of Portage Northern High School, the two began dating and Ben trained her to be a fulltime music professional and part of the program. When they married in 2007, they decided their marriage and family would be strongest if they spent their time working together and their future children could be part of their everyday life.
So, they worked on a way to make the music program lucrative enough to support a family and that was the beginning of BenJammin Educational Music. They now have two children. Cadence, 5, attends kindergarten at Sunset Elementary and Harper, 3, attends Little Bulldogs Learning Center.
They have recently performed at Sunset lake Elementary. Also, the Cadillac Arts Council brought them to their five elementaries. They were recently awarded the KADI Grant from the Kalamazoo Arts Council which will bring them to about 4,500 students in Kalamazoo county.
In addition to children’s programs, they also do performances that contain feel good songs in folk, rock, jazz, and reggae, that the audience knows and can sing along.
Future engagements include:
Saturday, May 10, at the Old Dog Tavern Kids Show Kalamazoo, 11 a.m. – Noon
Saturday, May 17, The Bus Stop Music Festival, Vicksburg 12 – 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 14, the Vicksburg Car show, The Vault , 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
To find out about more engagements, how they can customize a program for your needs or to purchase CD’s you may contact them at BenJammin.biz or 269-267-1812.