Schools, Libraries, Museums, & Special Events

The following are a sample of Geoff's educational programs. For booking, contact Geoff at 860-443-2711 or by email.

History of Note

Fascinating snapshots of our history appear in songs dating from before the Revolution to modern times. This program can be tailored to curriculum in American History at various levels with such special topics as "The Civil War Through Song", "Echoes of Amistad", "Of Ships and Captains and History in Song", "Singing Westward Ho", and "New York State History in Song". An engaging, memorable interface with classroom lessons.

These programs can be blended or modified to fit curriculum needs within reason. Other approaches, such as "Songs of Laboring People", are possible. With enough lead time, Geoff can shape a program to suit your needs.

So Long From Home: A Connecticut War of 1812 Tale in Prose and Song drawn from The Diary of Benjamin F. Palmer, Privateersman

Benjamin Franklin Palmer of Stonington left home on December 6, 1813 to engage in the dangerous and exciting endeavor of privateering against the British, only to be captured on the second day out of Newport and spend the next seventeen months incarcerated on ships and then at Melville Prison in Halifax and Dartmoor Prison in England. Palmer kept a journal throughout with detailed descriptions of conditions both physical and psychological that he and fellow prisoners endured.

Geoff presents this fascinating piece of Connecticut history using Palmer's own prose and verse with some additional songs and commentary to tell a story that offers a rare insight into the experience of POWs of any era.

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We were proud to be sponsors, on behalf of the Stonington Historical Society, of Geoff Kaufman's, "Huzza for Home!"—a performance piece created for the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and presented for the first time on December 12, 2013. Geoff employed his talents as a singer and historian to combine text from the diary of Benjamin Franklin Palmer, a Connecticut sailor held by the British for seventeen months, with the seldom-heard songs of sailors and prisoners of that era. Geoff vividly evoked both Palmer's ordeal and the courage displayed by his fellow Yankees. The audience was rapt, never more so than during Palmer's account of a slaughter of prisoners at Dartmoor Prison in Britain and Geoff's presentation of a song he found in Palmer's diary, "The Yankee Tar." We doubt that any observance of this anniversary can match "Huzza for Home!" in drama and intensity.

James Boylan and Betsy Wade

The tale is at once fascinating and compelling, weaving together the history of a Stonington mariner caught up in the conflict of war and told brilliantly and entertainingly through diary and song.

Andrew Maynard, CT State Senator

Geoff Kaufman's performance was wonderful … The captivity of one young sailor certainly reflects on how cruel a nation can be. In spite of that, his overpowering determination and will provides his ability to survive. Thank you again for a wonderful evening.

Marsha Standish, member of the Stonington Historical Society board and town official

A Song of Whales and Men

Geoff Kaufman has collaborated with Rick Spencer and Mystic Seaport to develop a musical program on the theme of the long relationship between mankind and cetaceans. The program includes songs and information on man's early whaling endeavors, on the "golden age" of whaling, modern industrial whaling, and the "Save the Whales" movement. It also looks to the future of our relationship. The program has been developed to coincide with the restoration and 38th voyage of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan. View video of the song "Balaena".

For more information about the Morgan's 38th voyage please visit here.

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The Civil War Through Song

Musician and educator Geoff Kaufman presents a haunting chronological perspective of the war through songs composed at the time. In those days before electronic media, such songs were used to note the events of the day in order to pass on the news. From "John Brown's Body" through "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" to "Oh, Freedom", these songs present a memorable, insightful record of that tumultuous time.

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Echoes of Amistad

The story of the Middle Passage, slavery, and the struggle for freedom are told powerfully through music from the period. The transplantation of Africans to this hemisphere also brought with it a powerful influence in shaping American music that is illustrated here through songs dating from the early-19th to the mid-20th centuries.

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Of Ships and Captains and History in Song

Fascinating snapshots of our history appear in songs about ships, captains, and special events. Captain Kidd, John Paul Jones, and the USS Constitution all have songs that help us discuss our country's development. Out of the Civil War come the Cumberland, the Merrimac, and the Alabama. There are also songs that teach us about our mercantile development (e.g., whaling and the gold rush). A memorable and fun way to learn history!

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Singing Westward Ho

The history of our Westward Expansion can be traced through a fascinating record of the music it inspired. Booster songs encouraged settlement while ballads, from satirical to graphic, portrayed the realities. You'll be taken from "The Lovely Ohio" to "Starving to Death on a Government Claim" and come out with a new appreciation for how the West was won, and what price was paid.

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Whales and Whaling

Whaling was one of the first trades to link the east coast of the US with many far-flung parts of the world, particularly the vast reaches of the Pacific from Antarctica and New Zealand to Hawai'i to Japan, Siberia, and Alaska. Many songs were sung by the whalers pursuing the hunt, but more recently songs have been written to help protect the whale. This program explores both sides, looking for musical clues to our relationship with the great leviathan.

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I just wanted to tell you how much my students & I enjoyed your performance. I love the fact that you got the children involved with the singing and how you kept their attention. Your program flowed smoothly and the kids didn't have time to get antsy because you kept their attention by not having a lot of downtime. Thanks again

Julie Adams


Music of the Waters

Water covers 71% of the surface of the earth, accounts for 60% of our body weight, and is vital to all life on earth. Humans have used the waters of the world not just for drinking, but for exploration, transportation, and a source of food. Songs have been written about all of these endeavors, as well as about our relationship with various water creatures and the sea itself. A good family program with lots of fun and easy choruses.

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Tree of Life

From an acclaimed recording of the same title, here are songs of celebration and concern for life on earth. After eighteen years of performing with the Sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River, and many shows for such groups as Audubon and Sierra Club, Geoff's recording led to performances abroad in Holland and France and invitations to carry his "Clearwater" message to Poland. Geoff always encourages participation, with lots of easy and fun choruses to share.

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Nature's Meanings

Based on an English Department course at Middlebury College called "Nature's Meanings". The course is a survey of classic American nature writing, from Walden to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and includes Farley Mowat's A Whale for the Killing, Rachel Carson's Under the Sea Wind, and Henry Beston's The Outermost House. This performance reflects themes from these writers, along with my own observations about the importance of place and our individual ability to value nature, particularly as we address environmental issues such as global warming.

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Geoff Kaufman performed at the Earth Day festivities here in Corpus Christi, Texas and he was a welcome addition to the line-up of acts. His music and lyrics are delightfully moving! Furthermore, he is a treat for all ages and adds to the fun by encouraging audience participation. I bought one of his CDs that I have really enjoyed listening to while driving. If you like authenticity paired with beautiful sounds, then you'll love Geoff. His take on pertinent issues is original and inspiring!

Gail Ross, Corpus Christi, TX


Folk Song Companion to Maritime Literature & History

Performing songs from the eighteenth century to the present, Geoff explores musical rerferences in such writers as Herman Melville and Rudyard Kipling and reveals humankind's eternal facination with the sea through enchanting musical expression.

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Songs of the Sea

The immensity and power of the ocean have gripped the human imagination from the dawn of civilization. Geoff Kaufman, in twenty years as a chanteyman at Mystic Seaport (fifteen of those as coordinator of the program), has selected songs from early balladry to the modern day that reflect this connection. Landsmen and sailors alike have left a fascinating record of their relationship with the sea. Lots of good choruses are included for your participation.

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(Note that Geoff also performs regularly for cruises aboard a variety of sailing vessels.)

Your extraodinary mastery of the history, tales, & songs of the sea made your performance the perfect way for us to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Mayflower II! You captured the hearts of concertgoers, old and young, with your authentic, compelling delivery. Bravo, Huzzah! We look forward to having you back to lead us in Sunday morning worship soon.

Lynne Wilkinson, Music Director, First Parish Church, Plymouth, MA


A Sailor's Christmas Day

Perhaps it's the North Atlantic in the bitter cold with squalls of snow, as you try to fill the hold with enough salt cod to pay the bills; perhaps it's balmy in the Java Straits coming home with tea and silks from China; or maybe it's off Cape Horn where it's never warm, headed to the coast of Peru for whales. In any case, it's a long way from home when it comes on Christmas for a sailor at sea. Come hear songs, verses, and stories which paint the scenes of Christmas at sea.

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I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your show and how much the kids at Fulton Learning Center talked about your songs. My wife teaches at Live Oak Learning Center where you had your 2nd performance so she was able to see it, too. We had a great Friday evening discussing your songs. Hopefully you might be in the area again sometime and be able to give us a repeat performance. Thank you.

Jeremy Saegert, Asst. Principal, Fulton Learning Center, Rockport, TX