Artists in Schools Directory


Leslie Zak

Artist's Narrative

Leslie Zak, award-winning singer, actor, and song writer, has an expanding repertoire of more than 1,000 songs, sings in 16 languages, and has been called "Columbus' answer to Raffi." She combines theatrical and musical skills and her contagious love of storytelling music to create a unique and engaging program for all ages. A frequent presenter at conferences, her programs with gifted and talented, learning-disabled, physically challenged, hospitalized, and incarcerated youth demonstrate her belief in supportive group work as a powerful - and fun - way to develop creativity and problem solving skills.

Leslie is a recent ''Living the Dream'' Artist, and a member of the national Children's Music Network. Her appearances include WCBE-FM ''Kids Sundae'' and ''Global Village," the Columbus Arts Festival, Taste of Chicago Festival, Bank St. College (NY), the Ohio State Fair, Celebration Japan, and the Columbus International Festival. Her CD If An Ostrich Can Yodel ... received the 2002 National Children's Music Web Award.

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Recent Feedback from Schools

While we aren't a school setting, the kids who attended our program were all elementary school students (ages 8-10). Theater games are designed to foster cooperation, collaboration, and trust--valuable team building skills as desirable in the classroom as they are on stage; and they're FUN!!!


Upon request.
This artist is based in Columbus. Travel charges may apply for schools outside of the area.

Programs Available

Songwriting (Grade levels 3-12)
A literacy and music experience. Students determine their topics of greatest interest and Leslie guides the process as they write and share songs in small groups. Using the Six-Trait Writing Methodology and the traditional "Folk Process," lyrics will be set to familiar tunes chosen by the class. Completed songs will be recorded and made available for copying.
Activity Options:
  • Duration: 60-90 min.
  • Fees: $205/ $355 for two back-to-back/ $405 for three-four classes

Folk Music III (Grade levels 6-12)
"The Phenomenal '60's!" Leslie and Allen Zak team for a special presentation - joining folk and popular music with Allen's documentary photographs from the era. Features events and famous figures from history (e.g. Dr. Martin Luther King,  Bobby Kennedy, Linus Pauling, Ronald Reagan) and the arts (James Baldwin, Andy Warhol, Jefferson Airplane) - from civil rights and peace movements to California "love-ins" and the Black Panthers. With narration. Includes question and answer period.
Activity Options:
Folk Music III
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $305/ $405 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Room with P.A. system and stand or lavalier microphone, plus slide projector and screen.

Folk Music II (Grade levels K-12)
A performance and sing along program around a particular theme selected by the school. Includes consultation with school staff.

Suggested topics include:
All One People - recognizing our similarities and celebrating our varieties from around the world. (multiple languages include: Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Russian, Yoruba, Arabic, Hebrew, Seneca, more).
The Three Rs: Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle - promotes environmental awareness and Earth-friendly activities. Includes Native American songs and expressions
Working - honoring labor with songs and stories of cowboys, soldiers, sailors, farmers, miners, slaves, secretaries, teachers, housewives, mothers, fathers, etc.
Love Songs in Dangerous Times (grades 8-12 only) - a comic/serious look at adolescent/teen concerns and manners from medieval times through the present. Explores ideas of self-esteem, respect, friendship, family.
Literacy-based - singing connections to literature.
Pre-School/Kindergarten concert - special for the little ones. (45 min.)

Activity Options:
Folk Music II
  • Duration: 45-60 min.
  • Fees: $255/ $355 for two back-to-back

Folk Music I (Grade levels K-12)
Explores the fun of singing together and finding our common human thread. Leslie leads songs, games, and circle dances from America and around the world, celebrating many cultures and languages. All programs are actively participatory. Accompanied by guitar and rhythm instruments, this program consists of the artist's choice of age-appropriate material.

NOTE: All programs are interactive and will introduce new sing along music and games for everyday use in the classroom.

Activity Options:
Folk Music I: Assembly Program
  • Duration: 45-60 min.
  • Fees: $255/ $355 for two back-to-back
Folk Music I: Classroom Visits
  • Duration: 45-60 min.
  • Fees: $165/ $255 for two back-to-back/ $305 for three-four classes

Theatre Games (Grade levels K-12)
Active, cooperative, fun and challenging - drama games help develop trust, self-esteem, community and creativity while exploring the actor's craft. Awareness, concentration, vocal and physical expressiveness, observation and imagination are key elements as Leslie leads the class in: ensemble work, performing stories, poems, improvisations, and problem-solving exercises.
Activity Options:
Theatre Games
  • Duration: 50-90 min.
  • Fees: $205/ $285 for two back-to-back/ $355 for three-four classes
  • Requirements: Open space; max 45 students per session.

Creative Dramatics (Grade levels 5-12)
Developed by the artist over more than 30 years of teaching and performing, each class creates and presents a play. An 'Open Sesame' to all studies, the source material may be a true or fictional story, a special holiday, a historical person or event, or from the students' own group choice. Subject matter can be customized to the school's curriculum needs.

Program 1 - Drama Residency: Combining and developing theater, literacy, and research skills, each class develops and presents a 45-60 min. play. Source material may be a true or fictional story, a special holiday, an historical person or event, or from the students' own group choices. Students may also create costumes, props, masks, and scenery from simple materials as needed for the presentation. Subject matter can be customized to school ' s curriculum needs. Excellent project for Honors, Enrichment, and Gifted programs. Three days to 2-3 months, this program can serve groups ranging from one class or grade level to the entire school. Each session with the artist is 90-120 min., usually 2-3 days per week in longer residencies.
Activity Options:
Creative Dramatics
  • Duration: one week to two months
  • Fees: $755/week (for one, two, or three classes); $855/week (for four classes). Negotiable with school's budget.
  • Requirements: Open space; maximum 60 students per session.

Stage Dialects (Grade levels 6-12)
Introduction to dialects, and also tutoring for productions. This lively and intensive 1-2 hour workshop includes basics of Standard British, Cockney, Irish, German, French, Russian, Japanese, and American Regional speech patterns. Expands students' theater skills and understanding of foreign language roots and relationships. Master study guides and scripts for copying will be provided in advance.
Activity Options:
Stage Dialects
  • Duration: 60-120 min.
  • Fees: $205/ $285 for 2 back-to-back
  • Requirements: Max 45 students. Materials copied by the school in advance.

Professional Development: Learning in the Joyous Classroom (adult)
Learn how to employ the arts to liven students’ curiosity and taste for learning, critical thinking and problem-solving, and social skills. Professional educators and staff will take away many new activities for enhancing and solidifying curriculum needs in spirited, fun,  and active sessions.
Activity Options:
Professional Development: The Power of Play
  • Duration: 2-4 hrs.
  • Fees: $300-400 for a one-day session; $550 for a 2-day session
  • Requirements: Cleared open space, enough chairs in circle. 40 participants max.

Professional Development: The NEW Three “R”’s: Refresh, Reconnect, Relax (adult)
A work/playshop to help the heroes in the trenches simultaneously refresh their dedication to teaching , and up their "fun quotient" in the process. Participants will gather new songs,  dramatic play and movement activities, and cooperative games. This is an active multicultural, multi-lingual, entertaining and content-filled workshop.
Activity Options:
Professional Development: The NEW Three “R”’s: Refresh, Reconnect, Relax
  • Duration: 2-6 hrs.
  • Fees: $300-400 for a one-day program; $600 for a 2-day program
  • Requirements: Cleared open space, enough chairs in circle. 40 participants max.