Fred Rogers Center event at Unity will focus on helping adults ‘learn to listen’


Millions of children have grown up singing songs like “It’s You I Like” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” with Mister Rogers – but these kids, now adults, might not realize the musical depth present in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.

The Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College in Unity will host its first music education event this month as part of the Gretsch Fellowship Program. Katie Palmer, the 2021 Gretsch Scholar, will present the inaugural event, “Learning to Listen: The Music, Empathy and Work of Fred Rogers.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, will aim to educate the community about empathy, diversity and the importance of developing Rogers songs. Palmer, who is also curator of education at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, will share her findings after two semesters of research.

Dana Winters, executive director of the Fred Rogers Center, said attendees will see how Rogers’ “values ​​and philosophies” mesh with Palmer’s expertise.

Palmer is an ethnomusicologist, or someone who studies the social and cultural context of music.

“(Palmer does) his best to apply these frameworks so that people in general can support children in their exploration of music and use music and musical sounds as an important part of development, especially in kindness, l ’empathy and understanding towards others’, Winters mentioned.

Palmer combed through the Fred Rogers archives to research his music. It is well known that Rogers had a strong background in music, starting with a degree in music composition from Rollins College, and that he wrote the melodies and lyrics for all the songs on the show. Winters said attendees will learn facts about Rogers that are not publicly known.

“There will definitely be things she will discuss that are not known to the general public right now,” she said. “His application of these to his own musical training will be really interesting.”

After Palmer shares his research, members of the public will have an opportunity to ask questions.

Winters said she believed Palmer’s discoveries and Rogers’ “timeless values” would benefit child and adult development.

“(Rogers’ values) are definitely more about human development, and I think we as adults can benefit from thinking about a lot of those values,” she said.

The Gretsch Fellowship Program aims to study Rogers’ approach to music and the impact of his music on children.

The second event in the program, scheduled for the fall, will feature an impactful storyteller. While Palmer’s presentation is aimed at adults, the fall event will be aimed at a “more general audience,” Winters said.

“Learning to Listen: Music, Empathy and the Work of Fred Rogers” will begin at 6:30 p.m. on March 23 at the Fred Rogers Center. For more information, contact or call 724-805-2750.

It is free and open to the public. Masking is optional.

Maddie Aiken is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Maddie by email at or via Twitter .


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