Tom Callinan Programs

Tom Callinan



Tom Callinan (folksinger, songwriter, storyteller, sea chanteyman, multi-instrumentalist, and environmental activist) , has constructed a participatory program of diverse songs and stories to educate/inform about the sea and the marine environment through the entertaining medium of folksongs, sea-songs, and chanteys (work songs), juxtaposed with pertinent original and other contemporary compositions. He is self-accompanied on a variety of conventional and "found" musical instruments from the wind, string, and percussion families.  Special attention is focused on the multitude of benefits that people receive from the sea:  food, relaxation, sports, commerce, culture - life itself.  Historical songs highlight where humanity has come from, with regard to the use of the sea as the means to an end, while the contemporary selections underscore its degraded condition, and our responsibility to work together to develop solutions to the on-going problems caused by centuries of ignorance, indifference, and over-exploitation.

Activities include:   Developing listening skills by teaching catchy choruses to all songs.  Engendering camaraderie through the time-tested method of singing-along.  Teaching the purpose of sea chanteys through demonstrations/simulations using student volunteers to show how a coordinated group effort can accomplish a task beyond the scope or power of each individual (i.e. the raising of an anchor via a simulated capstan, or hoisting the yardarm of a square-rigged ship).  Forming a "foo-foo" (rhythm) band, reminiscent of those found on sailing ships of yesteryear, from selected student volunteers.  This includes a lesson on the art of spoon-playing, something they can try at home, or in class as follow-up. Integrating the present with the past through songs about real people/events to bring the past alive.  Debunking some of the popularly held misconceptions about the sea (and especially about whales) in antiquity, and in light of what modern science and natural history have taught us.  Identifying and enacting projects that stress self/group empowerment.  Learning the practical value of working together within the system and the potential for affecting social change through the use of protest songs, letter and petition writing, and social activism.

Tom Callinan is an alternate board member and former membership coordinator for Cetacean Society International, one of the world's leading "save the whale" groups.  He also serves on the National Advisory Board and for over 20 years was an annual outreach presenter for the Fort Lauderdale-based non-profit educational group, National Week Of The Ocean, Inc.  He is a member of the National Marine Educators Association and its regional affiliate, Southeastern New England Marine Educators.  He has participated in dozens of whale-watches in the Northeast and on the West Coast.  As a performing member with, and business manager for The Morgans, one of the Northeast's most enduring and popular sea-music bands, he has appeared in thousands of schools and other concert venues for over thirty years.