Who is Zazzy Zoe?
Zazzy Zoe hopscotches between school and stage, with one foot in the preschool-classroom-music world and the other in the kindie-singer-songwriter-performing world.
Zoe currently visits over a dozen preschools a week where kids get to have FUN while forming/growing foundational musical principles and a love of music. In her classes students create music, rhythms, and movements with things like shaker eggs, frame drums, gathering drums, dancing scarves, rhythm sticks, desk and resonator bells, percussion instruments and of course voices and bodies.
A ukulele enthusiast, Zazzy Zoe is often known to play a few different types of ukes during a single performance (not simultaneously though because, alas, she’s not an octopus. Her original songs and modified covers are interactive, meaningful, humorous and fun. She’s inspired by the likes of such super-humans as Ani DiFranco, Bob Marley, & Mary Oliver, and such super-nonhumans as flora, fauna, friendship, love, peace, and unadulterated silliness.
I was in the midst of a major Ani Difranco phase in my early 20's, and a friend taught me how to play a few chords on the guitar. And, well, it was pretty rough on the ol' finger tips. But he coaxed me into borrowing his guitar for a few months, and after lots of cringing and moaning and practicing "32 Flavors" about a million times, I finally developed those sought-after calluses. And I've been strummin' ever since! Several years later I picked up the ukulele and it soon became my go-to set of strings (it's the perfect-sized instrument to play with a group of children!). I started bangin' on hand drums ca. 2000 and in 2002, found myself teaching hand drumming classes to teenage girls in a residential treatment facility, which ignited my passion for music facilitation. Around that time I also began teaching hand drumming classes and lessons to younger children (ages 5 and up) and adults.
In 2005, I got a full-time teaching job at a preschool where I was the in-house musician. Working there for three years gave me ample time to learn what works well with young kids when it comes to music facilitation. I learned the general scope of their musical capabilities and what types of songs, chants, movements, and musical activities really speak to them. Obviously every child has different likes and dislikes when it comes to music and all other things in life, but I've found there are certain songs, chants, and musical activities that pretty much every kid I've ever worked with just loves. And luckily for me, preschool-age kids make it really clear when they like something and when they don't. During this time I also learned how to be comfortably goofy, because a healthy dose of goofiness is a must when you're entertaining young kids.
I left the preschool in 2008 to go to grad school. From 2008-2010, I attended PSU and obtained a master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Not surprisingly, throughout the program I was drawn to facets of language that pertain to rhythm ("prosody") and using music to teach language (click here if you're interested in checking out a cool project I worked on at Atkinson Elementary School in SE Portland).
Near the end of my master's program, I got pregnant with my daughter and became a stay at home mom after she was born, which left me almost no time to do anything creative except sing and play music. When my daughter reached preschool age in 2013, serendipity struck when I met a preschool director/teacher who happened to be in need of a music teacher for her school. I tried to act cool and collected on the outside but inside I was thinking, 'Yeeehaaaaaaw!' From there, I began my career as a preschool music teacher, and the rest is herstory.
Click HERE for free access to recorded music by Zazzy & Mel!