• Moey Town

    Part Auntie Mame, Part Mary Poppins And Part Maria Von Trapp, Melissa Levis (AKA “Moey”) Inspires Learning And Creativity Through Music

    By New York Family

    Positioned on a platform between a sandbox and a jungle gym in
    Central Park, Melissa Levis watches as her fans trickle in. Her pink
    princess hat sparkles in the sunlight as her audience—standing about
    two feet tall and wielding pom-poms and maracas—gathers in front of
    her. Looking out over the rows of strollers parallel-parked along the
    playground’s perimeter, Levis smiles and begins to strum her glittered
    guitar. Moey’s Music Party has begun.

    Levis,
    known to scores of pint-sized Manhattanites as Moey (her childhood
    nickname), is an award-winning songwriter turned “mommy rocker.” She
    began her career writing custom tunes for high-end birthday parties and
    other celebrations, then went on to write for an Off-Broadway
    production.

    But
    the birth of her son, Monty, prompted Levis to take a break from the
    NYC performing arts scene. In fact, when Monty was a year old, Levis
    took a break from New York altogether, heading to her hometown of
    Manchester, Vermont for the summer. She volunteered to teach music for
    the local daycare, and while there, wrote a collection of songs for
    kids. Before long, she had gained small-town fame. Her local popularity
    won her a children’s program spot on the public access TV channel,
    where she first showcased her songs under the title “Moey’s Music
    Party.”

    But
    transferring her newfound celebrity status to the Big Apple was not so
    easy. Upon returning to the city, Levis began teaching preschool music
    at places like Congregation Habonim, Gymtime Rhythm & Glues and
    York Avenue Preschool, where she taught 300 children per week. Today,
    she teaches at P.S. 158 and Imagine Early Learning Centers, channeling
    her students’ creativity through music. “I work in a lot of rhyme,
    drama, and movement to encourage self-expression,” she says. “My songs are like a coloring book—the
    structure and the form are there, and the children color them in.”

    Levis
    also teaches mommy-and-me classes at fun venues. While most recently
    held at Big Daddy’s Diner, this fall the party moves to Gymboree Play
    & Music. Each week’s party is based on a different theme. At a
    recent “Pirate Party,” for example, tiny buccaneers toddled in a
    circle, clad in pirate hats, shaking silver and gold poms poms and
    singing songs like “Three Bottles of Juice on the Wall” and “Row, Row,
    Row Your Boat.” One-third of each party’s songs are tried-and-true
    “kiddie classics,” one-third are Levis’ original songs, and one-third
    are kid-friendly renditions of adult favorites—for the moms, of course.
    Levis also incorporates props into every party and performance.

    Kids’
    concerts are the other component of what has become a fulfilling, if
    unexpected, career for the “Pied Piper in Pink,” as Levis calls
    herself, referring to her trademark pink costumes complete with
    sequins, fringe and feathers. “I went from singing in the playgrounds
    of the rich and famous to just singing in the playgrounds,” she jokes.

    This
    summer, she performed 17 free concerts in parks throughout the city,
    singing for over 4,000 kids. “I have twoyear-old deadheads that come to
    every concert!” she laughs.

    Levis
    now plans to market her music and her curriculum, called “Preschool
    Pop,” to early education centers in the city and beyond. “We’ve figured
    out the recipe for the special sauce, so now other people can do Moey’s
    Music Party—it doesn’t have to have Moey,” she says. She also hopes to
    one day start her own national television program.

    For
    now, Levis has more than enough to keep her busy right here in the city
    she loves. After a concert-packed summer, Levis is fielding more
    performance requests than ever from daycare centers, schools and
    parents—Moey’s Music Party was even nominated for “Best Birthday Party”
    by GoCityKids.com. And despite how crazy her schedule becomes, Levis
    considers her work “an honor,” noting that children’s music has the
    power to define a generation of kids. “I feel like I’m more than
    entertaining them,” she says. “I’m helping to shape them in a really
    positive way.”

    For more info, visit moeysmusicparty.com.

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