“Stay at Home” concert for an elementary school (June 2020)

This is the Revolutionary War era folk song Gunpowder Tea. Here I am giving a presentation to a Fifth Grade class in Westwood, Massachusetts. The song was collected by Gale Huntington, a Martha’s Vineyard folklorist.

A Disappearing Art Form

Hold onto your community’s history. For without it, our children know no home.

Mark’s favorite gig is singing and telling stories to children. On Friday, May 24, 2019, opening into the Memorial Day weekend, he had a chance to perform again for the many hundred Edgartown elementary school children and their teachers and friends. It was the annual March to the Sea and it was at Memorial Wharf. There were other parts to this wonderful program. Children recited the Gettysburg Address. Children participating in a band performed patriotic songs. Children said the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately, sea chantey singing and storytelling are all that remains of the legacy of much of this Nation’s once vibrant coastal communities. The great square-rigged tall ships are gone. The harbors are no longer full of China traders, sailing and fishing boats.

Gone are the horse-drawn carriages. Today if you want a taste of your past you sit in a classroom and read a book aloud or show a video from out of the library. If you are trying to instill something more personal, fun and educational, why not try a live performance. Bring children’s folksinger Mark Alan Lovewell into your classroom. History and culture can be fun. Expose your children to much of the music and the ways of the past through a performance in your school. Then the next time they pull out a book on history on their own, the pages come alive. Mark Alan Lovewell will make the history of our nation vivid, in a way that is memorable. Children will be singing songs their ancestors sang more than a 100 years ago and they’ll know their history too.

To Teachers, From Teachers

  • Dear Mr. Lovewell, Thank you so much for coming into my 8th grade classes yesterday. The passion, information, and perspective that you shared about whaling brought our study of Revenge of the Whale to life! It was great to see student faces light up as you related current events, pop culture and local history to the themes in this book. Your visit greatly enriched our unit of study, as we considered difficult questions like, What forces give rise to cruelty among human beings? What values and concerns do we share with the whaling community? What life experiences/ancestry do I have that relate to this? How does who wrote history affect recorded history? How does race matter in America’s past, present, and future? What are the qualities a good leader should have? Which ones are most important? Additionally, your artifacts gave visual learners an understanding of whaling life: the harpoon was a real hit! Students appreciated your musical and interactive format. They enjoyed playing your instruments, too! I find it difficult to satisfy all of the different kinds of learners every day, so I am grateful to that students had the opportunity to work with you. I was glad that our science teacher could join us, too, as he is teaching about the geology and geography of the areas affected by whaling. The connections you subtly offered will be further explored in his classes. Best of all—we all appreciated your sense of humor! I hope you will make it back to the Edgartown School in the near future. Regards,

    Moira C. Silva 7th & 8th Grade E.L.A. teacher
  • To Whom It May Concern, It is my pleasure to write a letter for Mark Lovewell, supporting his talents as a performer, historian, and engaging communicator. I have had the pleasure of knowing him for over ten years on Martha’s Vineyard in a variety of contexts. He is the father of two great children and relates well to young people of all ages. He is a talented writer, photographer, and performer. His passion for things maritime involves him with Sail Martha’s Vineyard, sea shanties, books, and boats. His knowledge base is rich and deep. Whether performing for adults or children, his work brings maritime history alive with his music and stories. I always learn something new when listening to him, in addition to experiencing a wonderful musical performance. Most recently I have seen him perform in our schools. As a third grade teacher at the West Tisbury School, I am an experienced observer of children as an audience. Mark and his colleagues kept our kids engaged and eager for more. The content and pacing of the performance were right on, his manner when delivering stories made kids listen attentively. The children’s comments on the way back to the classroom reflected how their curiosity had been aroused, new concepts introduced and what fun they had. His work is a perfect fit for our study of American history. Living on an island, the sea obviously has been an integral part of local history, but maritime history and music are really relevant to all U.S. history. As an educator with many years of experience, I would recommend Mark on a personal and professional level without hesitation. Please call if I can be of further help. Sincerely,

    Martha Stackpole Retired third-grade teacher, West Tisbury School
  • To Whom it May Concern: This is my letter of recommendation for Mark Alan Lovewell, singer and storyteller extraordinaire! As a former classroom teacher of grades 3, 4, & 5, I can attest to Mark’ ability to connect with and engage students with his lively presence. He performed for my classes with great success. I am currently the Director of Education at the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society. I have had numerous opportunities to see Mark in action with a wide range of audiences. This past summer he was part of our Wednesday evening Ice Cream Social Series. His flexibility and willingness to adapt to his audience was impressive. He is knowledgeable, funny and a true asset to our community. He is a true collaborator. I’ve been on sailing ships with Mark, in auditoriums and outside on the Museum’s grounds. He is charming and a resource that none of us should miss. I enjoy watching him continue to grow and fine tune his talents. His enthusiasm is contagious…something that teaching history requires! I highly recommend that you consider him a creative teaching partner. Indeed, in my experience with him, he is! Respectfully,

    Lynne E. Whiting Former Education Director, Martha’s Vineyard Museum