Honor Mr. Joel
The late Joel Shickman, or “Mr. Joel” as his littlest musical protégés called him, believed in the healing power of music. In his memory, Music Together of Dallas presents its Annual Winter Disco Party benefiting the Joel Shickman Children’s Music Fund. All of the proceeds from the Party will go toward the Fund, which allows families battling childhood illnesses to bring all of their children to Music Together® classes for free or reduced tuition. Music Together Dallas' Disco Party's and Zumbathon's benefiting the Joel Shickman Children’s Music Fund are scheduled 4 times throughout the year.
“Everyone between the ages of zero and 120 is invited,” says Gila Vinokur, owner and director of Music Together of Dallas. “Live DJ will spin multi-generational sounds, from swing to disco, rock and roll to hip-hop. We will do the limbo, YMCA and bond with other like minded musical families. We’ll have a musical time and be raising funds for a wonderful cause in Joel’s memory.”
Shickman knew that one of the most perfect matches in all of creation is music and children. The music one learns as a child becomes a part of your being and memory for the rest of your life. Music speaks when there are no words to express incredible joy, sorrow, fear or love. Shickman was a man who could bring this incredible power of musical expression to everyone around him, young and old.
Joel grew up in a musical household, and his most significant interactions with his parents centered on music. Although his mother, a classically trained pianist, died of breast cancer when he was a toddler, the spirit of her music remained a part of him throughout his life. Joel’s father was passionate about classical music, and music remained a uniting force in their relationship. They often played duets, performed choral works and studied music together.
Shickman played violin from the age of six. He studied theater in high school where he also picked up the guitar and was often found playing for free at a local café on weekends. In college, he decided to broaden his musical studies and learned composition, theory, piano, and conducting. He sang with the Houston Symphony and the Dallas Symphony Choruses for more than a decade, touring with them around the world.
Joel’s true calling to teach was awakened when he became a father. When his first son was old enough, Joel signed up for a Music Together class. Soon, Joel was a Music Together teacher. Mr. Joel was a magnet to children and parents alike. He was honored to be their guide through Latin rhythms, African drums, American folk songs and classical orchestras.
Joel knew that anyone, everyone, can speak through music. He empowered the parents in his classes to sing and dance and bang on drums regardless of their pitch or ear or talent. He knew that a child needs to hear a parent’s voice and doesn’t care about quality. When a baby hears Mom or Dad singing the connection between them is made no matter what key or how broken the tune. And he knew that children can learn the languages of rhythm and music to express themselves before they can even speak.
Joel began to grow as a teacher and expanded his classroom to include his synagogue and Sunday school communities. He was always seen with a guitar or at the piano leading prayers or songs for children or conducting the choir for the High Holy Days. In 2005, Joel entered seminary and began studying to become a rabbi. In every way, music was a part of his teaching and learning.
Joel Shickman died in November 2007 of leukemia. During his illness, there were jam sessions around his hospital bed and he played his guitar daily. A visitor to his room during one of these sessions could see him visibly lifted up in strength and spirit by the music. The hospital staff stood in awe at this healing power. They could be seen smiling and dancing down the hall for hours afterward.
Joel’s sons were 2, 5 and 8 when he died. They remember the learning, the love, the silliness and they remember the music. The youngest always asks to hear Daddy’s CD in the car, at bedtime, and in the classroom. He will smile and say, “That’s my Daddy’s song.”
The Joel Shickman Children’s Music Fund will bring the healing power of music to families who need it most. It will heal them and unite them in unbreakable ways. It will be Joel’s song.
**For more information about Music Together Dallas' Annual Disco Party benefiting the Joel Shickman Children’s Music Fund, call 972-267-4452 or email Gila@musictogetherdallas.com**