Ellen Allard has earned her esteemed place as a star in the constellation of Jewish musical talent. Her long and impressive career spans generations yet her energetic presence, talent, love of teaching and singing and composing promises much more to come. And as luck would have it our Jewish Federation’s PJ Library sponsored Gan Katan Class had the happy honor of welcoming her into the family just last month. Ellen adds a new dimension to our already popular weekly get together. She is able to reach the kids on the other end of the screen with her music, storytelling and puppetry.
It’s obvious Ellen loves what she does and singing with kids and their grown-ups is number one on her list. Ellen was born in Lakewood, New Jersey, got a degree from Boston University’s School of Music and then attended grad school at Arcadia University where she received a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has two daughters and six grandchildren and is a classically trained pianist. After grad school she worked as the resident music teacher at an exclusive girl’s school and then took a position in a Jewish preschool. Here is where her career took a turn when she realized that there was a lack of developmentally appropriate music for Jewish kids.
So, she started writing and performing. Ellen credits The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE) with the responsibility of growing her work and her reputation as a sought after, successful and serious composer of Jewish kids’ music. Debbie Friedman (z’l) had a huge impact on Ellen’s life. She explained why: “The liturgy in her songs and her devotion to Jewish music helped people live Jewishly and tap into their neshama (soul).” For the past 14 years Ellen has studied with a Rabbi each week to not only improve her Hebrew skills but to take a deep dive into Torah and to nourish her own neshama. “Love it; wouldn’t miss it,” she says.
Ellen, the consummate educator, is in the planning stages of an online digital course for Rabbis and Cantors to “…get them up to speed armed with an understanding of the huge impact that music has in the lives of young children.” She also runs workshops for teachers of preschool music. “It’s not just about the songs,” Ellen says, “it’s about pedagogy and skill development.” In addition to music, Ellen’s other interests include nutrition and healthful eating. She is an Holistic Health Coach and teaches cooking classes.
Ellen wants parents to know that “…it’s not an either or decision one needs to make about their connection to Judaism.Not everyone needs to be 100% immersed in Jewish life. There are many ways to express who you are as a Jew.” She agrees with one of the tenets expounded by PJ Library and our own Jewish Federation that there are many points of entry into Jewish life. Our Gan Katan class is one. Ellen is very excited to be the star attraction for six sessions of Gan Katan, our grown-up and me weekly get together on Zoom.“Keep singing to and with your kids,” she tells parents, “you and your entire family will be better for it!”
You can find Ellen’s music streamed on various online platforms like Spotify, ITunes etc. She will be listed under her own name, Ellen Allard, as well as the name of her former duo, Peter & Ellen Allard. She is also very active on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ellenallardmusic), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ellenallardmusic) and YouTube (https:www.youtube.com/ellenallard). For further information on Ellen’s performances and workshops, contact her through her website at https://www.ellenallard.com. Also, It’s not too late to register for Gan Katan. We welcome all families with infants and toddlers to join us on Friday mornings from 9:30-11. For more information please contact Debby Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to https://www.jewishsgpv.org.
Debby Singer is Jewish Federation’s PJ Library and PJ Our Way Program Director and a contributing write to JLife Magazine.