Entertainers begin touring DODDS schools in Europe
May 12, 2006
GARMISCH, Germany — Coming to a school near you, maybe, is a woman with four grown children and a man who has none at all, but who both live to entertain youngsters.
Carri Blake-Brekke, whose stage name is Mrs. B, and Dan Crow have recorded 13 music CDs between them. Coincidentally, the two are about to embark on separate tours of Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe.
The two say they’ve found a welcoming audience in military kids and their teachers.
“I’m the happiest in that moment, when you’re getting up there and making a kid laugh,” said Blake-Brekke, 42, who raised four children with her ex-husband, an Army major.
“My whole thing is for kids to stay young, to stay in their childhood for as long as they can. If I can help a kid do that, it’s been a good day.”
Blake-Brekke, of Peoria, Ariz., is a singer, actor, puppeteer and comedian, and is relatively new at performing overseas.
On the other hand, Crow, 59, is a veteran troubadour to the young. The Palm Springs, Calif., resident was a Disney songwriter for 12 years for the company’s movie and education groups. This will be Crow’s 10th year singing at DODDS-Europe schools.
Both entertainers appeared this week at the European PTA conference in Garmisch, Germany. Some of the teachers said that Blake-Brekke’s and Crow’s acts help to entertain their pupils and teach them basic skills.
“Rhyming words are a real good way to learn these phonic skills,” said Michael Curley, who teaches kindergarten through second grade at Ramstein Elementary School. “At our level of teaching, you’re onstage and that’s OK. But when these people come to your school, they’re really onstage.”
“We have to use all the tools we can as teachers,” said Deborah Henson, a first-grade teacher at Ramstein. “Music is one of the best things. It gives them time to refocus and to release some of that energy.”
Crow has recorded 10 CDs on his own and performs year round for pupils of different ages.
“There’s an inbred silliness that comes out of me when I perform for kids,” Crow said. “I could analyze it for a month and probably wouldn’t be able to tell you what it is.”
Blake-Brekke has made five children’s books and three CDs, but she’s got a bigger goal: Playing at Madison Square Garden in New York City. She figures that if The Wiggles, an Australian act that targets toddlers, can sell out 12 shows at the Garden, and if Britney Spears can capture the teen crowd, why couldn’t Mrs. B own the post-toddler, preteen audience?
“I want to be that person in between,” Blake-Brekke said. “There’s not a lot out there for them, just TV, not a lot of shows.”
The schedules ...
Mrs. B’s schedule in Germany:
May 15: Sevilla Elementary; Rota
May 18: Bamberg; Kitzingen
May 19: Ramstein Intermediate
May 22: Patch; Boeblingen
May 23: Spangdahlem
May 24: Bitburg
May 25: Aukamm Elementary
May 30: Mannheim Elementary; Ramstein Elementary
May 31: Argonner Elementary
June 1: Smith Elementary and Wetzel Elementary in Baumholder; Neubrucke Elementary near Baumholder
Dan Crow shows in DODDS elementary schools in Germany:
May 12: Ansbach
May 15: Mannheim
May 16: Butzbach
May 17: Gelnhausen
May 18-20: Young authors conference, Darmstadt