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Authors   >   Alfred Balkin

Alfred Balkin

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Photo: The Island Packet.

Born in Boston during the 20th century, Dr. Alfred Balkin (Ed.D, Columbia University, bachelor's and master's degrees, Indiana University) is a Western Michigan University professor emeritus who has taught music at every level from nursery school to graduate school. Balkin's early teen idol was George Gershwin. He saw the biopic about the composer and said, "That's for me." After the army, he moved to New York City to write "popular" songs and make his fame and fortune. His first royalties totaled $40 plus two 3-cent stamps-a little shy of enough for two people living in Manhattan. He became a cabaret singer-pianist by night and an advertising salesmen for a music education magazine by day. Then teaching took over. His two urban song cycles, We Live in the City and City Scene, were Broadway influenced and ideal for staging and choreography. These 60 songs brought Balkin national recognition for his singular and more contemporary approach to music in schools. Many of the songs also appeared frequently on the CBS children's TV show Captain Kangaroo. A half-million children on a special PBS national hookup joined 2,500 children and the U.S. Air Force Band from Constitution Hall to sing "America the Musical," Balkin's theme song for Music in Our Schools Month. He was invited to perform the song the next day on NBC's Today Show. The Musicians of Bremen (A Not-So-Grimm Modern Musical Fairy Tale) has been received enthusiastically by more than 200 audiences. Balkin's most ambitious education-through-music project is a four-volume collection of more than 100 songs called Tune Up to Literacy, designed to motivate, encourage literacy and acquaint children with the basics of our English language in its many manifestations.

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