We are... Musicians and educators that all have lots of experience with children, alongside our musical careers. We decided to pool our talents and our puppets and created Octopretzel - an interactive, engaging, and super-fun experience for kids (and their parents too)!
We are five Bay Area musicians who all have extensive experience working with children. Four of us have kids of our own, and all of us are educators in an array of environments including schools, afterschool programs, private lessons, and group music classes. What we teach ranges from instrument instruction to childrens' theater, from puppet making to pre-natal bellydance, from drum classes to Jewish education, and more! We have been together since 2007, and have played extensively around the Bay Area. Our intention with Octopretzel is to create music that is truly enjoyable for families...not just kids.
Our music, comprised of original songs as well as tried and true traditional favorites, is whimsical and fun, and has an underlying sensitivity for nature, feelings and story. Best described as folk music, it crosses generations and genres, weaving together styles such as bluegrass, rock and roll, lullabies and even nursery rhymes. Our shows integrate elements of many cultures such as African drumming, klezmer fiddling, middle-eastern percussion and singing styles, and songs with words in Spanish, Hebrew and even Quechua. We perform regularly for Jewish organizations, events, and holidays, and have also done shows comprised entirely of Christmas carols. Our priority is to make our music accessible to all of our listeners.
Members of the band:
Melita Silberstein: Melita has worked as a music specialist for young children for over 15 years. She is based in Berkeley and currently teaches music classes in several preschools and other venues for families in the Bay Area. She holds a degree in eco-psychoplogy from the Naropa Institute, and also a certification in early childhood education. She has received training in an array of teaching modalities including Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Music Together and Orff Schulwerk. Melita is the founding member of Octopretzel and has also performed extensively in other music ensembles ranging from a Balkan a cappella group to country folk to spiritual reggae to solo shows as a singer/songwriter. She has recorded several CDs both for children and adults. Melita also co-facilitates "rites of passage" groups for girls aged 8-10, and last but not least is the mother of a bright nine and a half year old girl.
Jen Miriam Kantor: is a registered Music Together teacher and has a masters degree in Clinical psychology with an emphasis in pre and perinatal psychology. She is a pre-school teacher and specialist in early childhood education. You can see her perform around town with Raizel the Camel at birthday parties, community events and tot shabbats at Jewish organizations. She is the Founder and Co-Director of The Puppet Players, a Jewish ritual puppet theatre troupe in Berkeley and has toured throughout California and Oregon performing puppetry with Kid Kaleidoscope. Jen is also the proud mama of two girls under 4. You can check out more about Jen at www.jenmiriam.com. Jen also works as a doula, supporting laboring mothers in the birthing process. Find out more at www.birthdoulajen.weebly.com.
Dave Rosenfeld: on mandolin, fiddle, and vocals. Dave is a kid at heart and loves to improvise, dance, and play. He performs with the popular klezmer band, Kugelplex, teaches guitar and fiddle to kids and adults, and works from time to time as a conductor with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. Dave holds a degree in Studio Art from UC Davis, and a Masters Degree in Music Composition from Mills College.
David Doostan: on supporting vocals. David brings his voice and his great energy to Octopretzel and holds the great honor of coming up with our band name! His "other" main profession is saving lives as an ER doctor in inner-city Richmond and Oakland.
Vir McCoy: has written and recorded over 200 original original songs in many styles of music on 19 albums (as of 2013) including styles in Children's, Rock, Funk, World Tribal, Hip Hop, Electronica, Devotional and , and New Age Comedy. He has appeared as a guest on several studio albums (Including Mickey Hart of the Greatful Dead and Beats Antique among others) as well as on sountracks for film, television, the web and video. He has toured all over the U.S. playing at most festivals and many venues with Mickey Hart, Hamsa Lila and Shiva Rea (the accomplished Yogini) among others. In addition to his solo project Vir plays in the award-winning music group Hamsa Lila and the children's band Kid Kaleidoscope as well as creator of the youtube comedy hit “Man From Marin”.
Sarita Pockell: on lead vocals and guitar. Sarita is a mother of two, and is a music and drama teacher as well as a performing singer/songwriter. She also performs with her husband in a childrens' ensemble called Bubblejuice, and was formerly a lead singer in the world fusion band Hamsa Lila. Learn more about Sarita at www.saritasong.com.
Sarita is currently on a long term sabbatical in Ubud, Bali