Songwriting Workshops

schools & libraries

Bring Dean Jones to Your School or Library!
Dean Jones is known to many as the leader of Dog on Fleas, the critically acclaimed band, which has released 8 albums in its first 17 years. Dean is a Grammy winning record producer, working primarily with children’s musicians from around the country. He has also been performing as a one-man band since 1999, as the musical director and voice of the Arm of the Sea Theatre Company, a traveling large-scale mask and puppet theater troupe, and with Hudson River Playback Theatre, an improvising company of actors. Dean is a musical omnivore, collector of instruments, and a student of ethnomusicology.

Songwriting program for students in Pre-K to 8th grade
Dean has developed a unique songwriting program for elementary and middle schools. He begins by having the kids talk about what they know about song structure and types of songs, then he quickly fills in the gaps of understanding... and off they go! The group works together, creating melody, words, chords, rhythm, and harmonies from scratch. This challenge leads to great sense of accomplishment, and can set children off to a lifetime of creative expression.
The topics for the songs can be chosen by teachers, and related to what is deemed important to the school, or can be arrived at organically by the group. After a couple of sessions the kids sing their group-written songs with the band in an assembly for the whole school. This performance can be recorded and a CD can be made for each school. It can even be videotaped!

Exotic Instruments - Solo One-Man Band Shows with an Interactive Bent

Dean will load up the Subaru with as many cool instruments as he can fit and come to you to explore a great big world of sound. Dean talks about the origins of some of the instruments, and about the cultures that created them, and he throws in a tiny bit of the physics of sound for good measure. There will be some singing, movement, a lot of questions from the audience, and a few answers too!

Depending on the size of the audience there are many instruments that can be passed around and experienced hands on. Dean also has a large repertoire of songs from this country and many others to share and teach. He often teaches a Native American song or two to the audience. With tricks up his sleeve and a joyous approach to music making, Dean never fails to thrill and inspire.

The instrument collection includes jaw harps from Vietnam and the Philippines, African talking drums, flutes from almost every continent, Jamaican Rhumba box, autoharp, bullroarers, bird calls, nose flute, Zimbabwean thumb pianos, Nigerian clay Udu drums, Brazilian Cuica friction drums which mimic monkeys and always steal the show, homemade creations and much more.

Dog on Fleas (trio or duo)
Dog on Fleas has become almost an institution in children’s music. They have a vast repertoire of songs and a loose and engaging style from playing together for over 20 years. The trio can be very flexible with space requirements and electricity needs. They can play totally acoustic, or plugged in. Drums, bass, guitar, trombone, melodica, lots of singing and a few surprises are the norm. Dancing is suggested!! The Fleas pride themselves on being appropriate for all ages (0-100) with a mix of originals, standards, and choice covers, usually inspired by the audience.

But don’t just take our word for it....
“Dean Jones has come to our school several times and it’s always a huge success. His songwriting workshops are fun and engaging. The shows have been a yearly highlight for our Assembly program and we hope to have him back on a regular basis!” - Ben Houston, PTA Assembly Coordinator, Zena Elementary, Kingston, NY

"Dean Jones conducted one of the most inventive, creative and progressive songwriting/performance workshops in the history of our school. He is an incredibly gifted and multi-talented artist who created a safe and stimulating environment for our kids to create and perform. His innovative way of extracting shared subject matter, and turning them into group songs (that were performed for the entire community) was a remarkable feat. Through this experience, the kids were able to gain confidence in their ability to create original music. Whether you invite them to enhance your arts in education schedule, or present them on a big stage - this group is a must have.” - Damon Banks, music teacher at Poughkeepsie Day School, Poughkeepsie, NY

“Dean Jones is a gifted teacher and musician, and his songwriting workshop for kids is a fantastic program. Dean encouraged kids to be both silly and serious, and showed them the actual results of working together and seeing the project through. Highly recommended!” - Jennifer Metzger, Rosendale Elementary, Rosendale, NY

“We just had our kick off program with a great band called Dog On Fleas. They are great musicians, catering to kids of all ages and their adult counterparts (sometimes hard to do), professional, creative, and overall, a lot of fun - we had a terrific turnout! The kids, adults and librarians all had a terrific time dancing. Many came back the next day to find out more about the band members and recommend a return engagement! Highly recommended!” - Ginny Neidermier, Director, Josephine-Louise Public Library

We love Dog On Fleas’ use of eccentric instrument choices—like the piccolo, African Udu drums and musical saws—but mostly we love that parents and kids can listen (without pretending to enjoy) together. Kids will enjoy the interesting sounds and quirky ways that Dog on Fleas use their voices to create a picture of what ever they are singing about.” - Canadian Family Magazine

When I Get Little is a delightfully eclectic array of unique tunes tasting of bluegrass, Cajun, World, and straightforward rock. The album includes some real treasures, including ‘The Coo-Coo’, which boasts exotic balafons and djun-djun drums’ the ragtimey ‘Moon Song’; and the folksy, a cappella ‘Honeybaby.’” – Mothering Magazine, January/February 2007

“Dog on Fleas has been performing together for several years now, and it shows on Cranberry Sauce Flotilla, their third CD for kids. Recorded mostly with a single microphone in band leader Dean Jones's living room in upstate New York, the songs exude loads of organic vitality. The group's use of fiddles, tubas, mandolins, acoustic guitars, and an upright piano, combined with their down-home song selections, will make you feel like you're listening to The Band, playing at Big Pink…. This is wonderful music from a fantastically talented group.” - 12 Kids' Albums You Can't Live Without -- School Library Journal, 7/1/2007