Broadway Utica
HomeColumnsThe Heat Beat: The Music of Phoenix Radio and More

The Heat Beat: The Music of Phoenix Radio and More

By Jess Szabo, Arts Writer

Utica musicians team with local history center to offer the gift of music and literature for Christmas 2021

   We all know it’s better to celebrate Christmas by having fun, serving others, and making memories with family and friends than by racking up debt buying everyone piles of pricey presents, most of which will blend into everything else they own within six months. But even the experiences that make the best memories can get expensive, with food to participate in potlucks, tickets to performances, and extra clothes to wear to holiday parties adding up almost as quickly as the cost of the gifts.

   For the Good, Inc., a sister organization to Phoenix Media, has a solution.

  On Saturday, December 18, they will present a free Children’s Christmas Concert in collaboration with the Oneida County History Center. The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m at the history center. Participants will only need to register online. Check the website for updates.

  Attendees can look forward to Christmas music performed by Utica’s own “The Hummingbirds.” Founded in the summer of 2021, The Hummingbirds is the only local band specializing in music for children and families. The band is made up of Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, John Kelsey, and John Handzel.The setlist will include a variety of beloved Christmas songs.

   Parents and other caregivers who take their children to performances by the Hummingbirds are giving them a fun holiday outing, and so much more. 

  Responding to music improves fine and gross motor control. The act of clapping, tapping, and other movement to music builts connection between the body and mind. Music also improves social skills and helps children learn to regulate their emotions. It creates a sense of belonging as children share in the experience of enjoying and responding to the music they hear. In some cases, early exposure to music can even inspire children to learn to sing and play instruments, opening up a whole new world of opportunities.

  In addition to the concert, there will be a book reading and giveaway. Younger children in the audience get to take home a copy of All Aboard, Owney!: The Adirodack Mail Dog. This heart-warming novel for very young children is the second book by New York based writer Jennifer Gordon Sattler. The story is based on a real dog. The real Owney lived from the mid 1880’s until 1897. He was a small mutt who hung around the Albany post office beginning in 1888. The staff adopted him as their own, and allowed him to travel on trains. People who met Owney along his journeys began pinning dog licenses, coins, and baggage tags on his collar to mark all the places he travelled. Eventually, he would receive so many tokens, he would need to wear a harness to hold them all.

   In this fictionalized version, written in 2003, Owney travels through the forest, making friends with several animals who band together to make sure he doesn’t miss his train. Children will enjoy the adventure story while learning the valuable lesson of the importance of working together and looking out for your friends.

   Older children may choose to take home a copy of “Owney” as a gift for a younger family member, but if they would like to select a book for themselves, the history center will have free copies of a book on the Erie Canal available for them.

   As with music, literature has a beneficial impact on children in both the short and long term. Reading, like music, helps encourage and develop a child’s imagination. It can also improve emotional development, as children learn empathy through exposure to stories of lives that are not their own. Hearing and reading stories helps improve language development. And encouraging children to settle in and focus on a story can improve their overall attention span.

  Don’t miss this special opportunity to give your child the gift of music and literature this Christmas season. Although the theme of the event is Christmas, children and families of all faiths are more than welcome to attend the concert and reading and to take a free copy of a book to enjoy at home.

   Audience members are encouraged to dress in their most festive Christmas clothing, and are asked to please add a mask.

  Keep checking The Utica Phoenix online for more information about this event and upcoming projects in 2022. Any local businesses, corporations, or other organizations interested in supporting the arts in Utica by sponsoring this event are encouraged to contact For the Good, Inc./Phoenix Media directly at or by phone at 315-797-2417.



Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staff
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

Most Popular