Joe Murphy - Director/Teacher
Music for Aardvarks, Memphis
Let us begin with a short tale of how Joe ended up teaching Music for Aardvarks in Memphis. (Please use a slight British accent when reading.)
Joe began his Music for Aardvarks journey many years ago. While still a young grasshopper wandering the streets of the big apple he happened upon a youthful sage named David Weinstone. They toiled together in the netherworld of artists disguised as servants to the more privileged class of the great city. Over time they became close allies choosing laughter as a weapon to fight the internal and external beasts that roamed the land. These creatures appeared in many different shapes and forms with names such as “I’m such a loser.” and “This isn’t what I ordered!”. Joe and David took turns pushing the great boulder of aspirations up the mountainside only to have it roll back down again. As time passed Joe, needing a fresh view on life, finally decided to ride his horse named ‘Ford Ranger’ out west to pan for gold. After a few years Joe returned, and having honed his theatrical craft was finally able to pull up a few coins from the ‘acting’ well.
David meanwhile used his mighty musical talents to begin building his kingdom he called ‘Aardvarks’. Joe witnessed David weave his magical spell on the children of the land and was greatly impressed. Joe went back to the pulling of the sword out of the ‘working actor’ stone, when he met Virginia a beautiful maiden from Memphis, TN. They fell in love, married and were soon expecting their first child. They knew the price of wheat had become far too high in the great city so they hatched a plan to move to her homeland of Memphis, Tennessee. She suggested he use his skills as an actor and musician and learn the ‘secrets of the Aardvark’ from his friend David as a way to feed and clothe their young family. David was happy his old friend was willing to learn his trade and shared with Joe some of his secrets, a small pouch filled with Aardvark seeds, and sent him on his way. Memphis was a land rich in musical history, providing the perfect soil to plant the magic Aardvark seeds. It did not take long for the seeds to sprout and now 10 years later the crop is still flourishing.”
(OK…You can drop the silly British accent now)
Joe, affectionately known as ‘Mr Joe,‘has brought the magic of Aardvarks to over 1000 families in Memphis. It’s a mutual love affair.
“The memories we're making each week in class are and forever will be so precious to us. You provide such a sweet opportunity to share music, song, dance and play with our little ones…and I just can't imagine anything better. You're genuinely talented and you're doing so much more than you probably even know. You've definitely made a difference in my family and I'm sure countless others. Thanks for being the Memphis jewel that you are." - Music for Aardvarks Memphis mom.
His classes consistently win local awards for best after school arts program; and the community is so excited by how MFA is strengthening families that Joe has recently been funded to bring MFA to the new Universal Parenting Places (http://acecentershelbycounty.com/parenting-places). UPP centers are judgment-free zones where parents can receive professional counseling, information and emotional support for family-related issues or concerns, no matter how small. They are the first of their kind in the United States. These classes will be free to the public and give Joe a chance to offer his classes to more wonderful families.
He and Virginia also started Playback Memphis (www.playbackmemphis.org). An exciting form of improvisational theater that takes personal reflections and stories from the audience and turns them into a theatre piece on the spot using music, movement, metaphor, and text. Playback theatre is not only entertaining but also helps promote healing and reconciliation. In a recent project they trained police officers and ex-offenders in the skills of Playback Theater to help open up lines of communication and foster empathy and goodwill.
Joe and Virginia also have two beautiful boys Abel 9 and Harlan 7, who keep them inspired and tired all at the same time!