From John Farrell
Summer 2004
Greetings Friends,

You are reading this newsletter because some time in the past few years I had the good fortune of sharing some songs and stories with you and you were kind enough to either give me your email address or visit my website. Thanks for your interest and support. Through this newsletter I will attempt to keep you informed about what I’ve been doing and what’s new on the horizon.


The 2003-04 school year marked the twelfth year I have been out on the road visiting schools and working with teachers and families. In 1991 I left the somewhat secure world of educational publishing to write and sing songs and tell stories. This endeavor continues to enrich my life and bring me the great satisfaction and reward of working with the most important people in the world ---children, parents, and teachers.

This year I had a very busy performance schedule visiting with old friends and making new ones. I traveled to Oregon twice to work with the great people of the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership. I also spent several days at the International Reading Association Conference in Reno Nevada. While there, I snuck off to Lake Tahoe for a day to do some hiking. What a gorgeous planet we live on! In March I did my 11th annual concert for the Friends of Carrier Library at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. I also did several keynote presentations around the country for SDE (Staff Development for Educators) including visits to North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. I was invited to present at some new conferences this year including the New Jersey Music Educators Association, Pennsylvania Science Teachers, Illinois Reading Conference, and New Jersey Youth in Philanthropy. The opportunity to interact with teachers and volunteers provides me with inspiration and gives me comfort and hope because the young people of our world are being guided by strong, innovative, and compassionate educators. Please keep up the great work you’re doing.

There are many schools and districts that ask me to perform and work with their students every year. I am honored and grateful to all of you for your faith and confidence in the messages I share with your students. Some of my “every year” stops are Kent Primary School, Tappan Hill Elementary, Edmeston Central, John Trumbull Elementary, Lynnbrook Kindergarten Center, Katonah Elementary, Family University, Nassakeag Elementary, Friends of Carrier Library, Pathfinder Village, Kids for the Columbia, Newburg Pre- Kg, and Danbury Hospital Children’s Day. I always enjoy the time I spend with each of you and I look forward to seeing you again next year.


We are all well in our family. Ann Marie is moving to first grade next year after eight years teaching kindergarten. She’s excited and ready. Katie finished her freshman year at Boston College and stayed up there for the summer. She is working on a study examining musical training and the brain. She is coming to Canada to be with us for a few weeks in August. Jack is looking at colleges for 2005 and Maggie, Colleen, and Patrick all had good school years, but are happy summer is here. I realized recently that beginning next year we could have a high school and or college graduation in our family every year for the next nine years. There will be lots of celebrations and plenty to look forward to. My mom will be 93 in October and continues to enjoy good health.


It’s been a year and a half since the release of the CD, “OH YEAH!” and it’s time for a new CD project. I have dozens of new songs and three CD projects in mind. I have begun working with Jeff Miller to start these recordings and hope to have new CD’s coming for each of the next three years. The projects will include: A CD for the younger ones (pre-k through grade 2 or 3); A CD with all songs about nature and science; and a CD for adults. As time goes on and our children continue to grow, the variety of topics for songwriting also grows. Last September we took our oldest daughter Katie to Newton, MA to begin her life as a student at Boston College. A few lonely, reflective days later I wrote a new song called “Letting Go, Holding On.” It’s about the transitions in growing up and in parenting. I also recently wrote a song about my travels September 11-12, 2001. I spent those two days in western New England riding over 200 miles on my bicycle so I could get back home to my family. I was in Vermont en route to Montreal when the attacks occurred. The song recounts the feelings and people I met. It is called, “Followed My Heart Back to Home.” There was an amazing feeling of togetherness, caring, and empathy those first few days following 9/11.

I have also written several new Christmas songs which will be included on a new version of “Season of Light.” Among the new songs are “A Little Bit of Scrooge in Everyone,” “Hot Chocolate and Diplomacy,” “Let’s Go Caroling,” and “So Many Sounds on this Silent Night.” It should be ready for this holiday season.

The manuscript for my forthcoming picture book, “The Stargazers Alphabet,” has been submitted to the publisher, Boyd’s Mills Press. Artwork, photos, and design will be the next elements added and I can’t wait to see the results. Rosanna Hansen, the editor who worked with me on the book is fantastic and I expect the book will be too! The “Dear Child” book idea remains a work in progress and I hope the progress will accelerate now that the stargazer’s book is on its way.


Because of advances in recording technology it is possible to do CD quality recordings with a minimum of equipment. I now have a digital porta-studio which isn’t much larger than a laptop computer and makes great recordings. In three schools I visited this year, students and I wrote and recorded new songs on location in the schools. The students were not only thrilled to hear themselves on a recording of a work they helped create, but were even more delighted to have a copy of their own to listen to and save for future listening. I hope to do more on site writing and recording sessions next year.


My good friend and program manager Mary Jain Dayger does a great job of keeping my web site up-to-date. ( If you want to check my upcoming schedule, print an order form, listen to samples of songs, print out lyrics and activities, or send us an email, you can do any of these things at the web site. If there are any requests or suggestions you have for the website we’d love to hear from you.


With the presidential election coming this fall our country faces a great decision, the most important in our lifetimes. I will be reminding and encouraging all my friends to vote for a change. I encourage you to please vote with your heart and with the interests of all of earth's children in mind.


Several years ago I wrote and recorded a song called “Summer’s Here.” It includes the lyrics “Summer’s here, another year, reach up and touch the sky…” Next week, my family and I depart for Prince Edward Island in Canada where we spend most of our summer vacation in an old farm house that has been in our family since the 1960’s. It is our time to reach up and touch the sky. It’s also a time of renewal, relaxation, beginnings and endings. Each year brings the comfort of memories and familiarity along with the excitement of new discoveries, and the sadness of farewells. This summer I hope to spend time exploring my new interest in watercolor painting. P.E.I. is feast of colors and scenery. I’ll also be doing lots of cycling, reading, and stargazing as well as working on new songs and stories and just hanging out with friends and family. If your plans include a visit to Prince Edward Island please feel free to come say hello. We live on the north side of route 224 between St. Anne’s and Stanley Bridge. The name is on the mailbox. I hope that you and your family have a restful and healthy summer.


I am very fortunate to be able to do work that I love but I couldn’t do it without the help and support of many people. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have come to concerts, bought CD’s, and recommended me to others. If you know of any schools, conferences, or groups that you think would enjoy a program or concert I would appreciate it if you pass my name and web site on to them, or ask them to call Mary Jain at 607-965-8983.

Keep a song in your heart and keep looking up!



2004 Hope River Music
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