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UP ON STAGE (PARENTS, TOO!)

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by Helen Rosengren Freedman

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Giving our kids the classes we never had, allowing them the chance to try so many pursuits, is a modern parent’s joy.  And it can sometimes conjure wanderlust in the mind of the parent, too.


   For every mom or dad who sits in the wings watching their child shine in the spotlight, Kim Breden’s Be Mused Productions offers a unique opportunity.  Her Family Musicals’ classes have the whole family up on stage, parents performing alongside their kids.


   For Breden, who grew up in Valhalla and now lives in Yonkers, it’s a lure she knows well.  Long ago realizing, “I would never sing Wagner,” she began looking for ways to fulfill her performance dreams.  She managed groups of period singers — Victorian-style carolers, barbershop quartets.  Singing and running a business gave her the experience to branch out.  Now she devotes her time to her two favorite groups — children and seniors.

   Be Mused offers three different programs for children.  Wee Musicals’ Saturday classes are for kids in grades K-2; these give youngsters the basics of musical theater.  “Everybody gets to be in costume, to have lines, and to sing,” Breden says.  Right now, the Wee group is working on a production of Cinderella.

   Be Musicals’ three age levels (grades 1-3, 4-6, and 7-9) meet on weekends; these workshops take the musical theater experience up a notch.  Kids work toward a final performance with a live orchestra in a traditional Broadway-style setting.  They're currently working on Annie Jr.

  And Family Musicals are for all age groups, including parents, who work together for eight weeks to produce a musical.  All the children’s theater classes and workshops are held in White Plains.

   Breden also runs Mommy & Me programs at the Hudson River Museum, and she recently released a children’s music CD, Picture This! Imagine That! (scroll down for review).

   While a good half of Breden’s time is spent working with kids, the other half is spent with seniors.  For many years, she has been taking her concerts and musical programs into area senior residences to entertain, and her current aim is to create intergenerational programs — bringing her young students into senior residences to perform, and the elderly residents to see the youngsters’ productions.

   Her love of the elderly comes from the mentor who impacted her own young life so significantly — Nan Burt, a New York City pianist who encouraged Breden and who died last year at age 106.  Burt was involved with the Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina, which offers 22 full scholarships each summer to talented musicians and performers.  Breden was able to spend two summers at Brevard studying under a top professional faculty.  “Without Nan, and the scholarships, I would never have had such wonderful training,” Breden says. 

   With the talent to sing, dance and act, she eventually went to the University of South Carolina for two undergraduate degrees — one in music, and another in music education.  And then she was accepted into the Masters program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, emerging with graduate degrees in music therapy and voice performance.

   “Now, from what Nan gave me,” says Breden, “I am able to ‘pass it all on’.  How cool is that!”

   While she continues to focus on performance, Breden says that her educational background in music therapy is a great advantage when teaching children, and when relating to the elderly as well.  “Children learn by different methods in general.  So if I have a little person who can't sit still, let's say, I give them the opportunity to get up and move.  With seniors, I use music to help them with structure, and to help them with memory.”

   Be Mused does four to five workshops a year.  The next begin in January; registration is now ongoing.  Call Breden at (914) 423-2063, or go online to www.BeMusedProductions.com for more info.

The title says it all
   The title of Kim Breden’s brand-new CD, Picture This! Imagine That!, sums up her musical talents, creativity, and enthusiastic personality. She is a person who speaks with great warmth and energy, complete with exclamation points, and this all comes across beautifully on the album.  She has a lovely voice and is accompanied by one musician, the equally talented Joe Mennonna, plus a children’s chorus; this is a standout album with great original songs kids will love. 
   In the liner notes, she explains how each song came to be.  The bouncy “What Do You Bring to the Pot? (What do you bring that no one else has got?”) was inspired by a children’s musical she wrote based on the folktale, “Stone Soup”.  One summer day, she tried to rescue a tiny ladybug from the back seat of her car; the result is “The Ladybug Song” (“Oh, you cannot make a Ladybug stay/ No sooner there, she’s on her way”).  “Clean Up” is set to conga music and was inspired by her sister’s seven children, all featured in the chorus.  “The Alphabet Picnic” uses bouncy Dixieland music to teach letters.    
   Email Kim Breden to order: [email protected]

 


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