In our premier release of the Exceptional Student Highlight segment we'd like to introduce you to Al deCant - musician, educator and entertainer!
Al deCant, locally known as “The Singing Principal”, left his job as an elementary school principal a few years ago to pursue his passion to become a full-time children’s entertainer. Al has been performing and writing music for children for the past 25 years.
As a children’s entertainer and educator, Al has reached thousands of young people through his programs of music and storytelling. Al’s music and character education theme CARING Kids is being used in schools and classrooms throughout New York and New England. Parents, teachers and children immediately respond to the catchy tunes and lyrical wit of this veteran singer/songwriter/educator. Al’s original comic and soulful songs are enjoyed as much by adults as they are by children.
“There is nothing more rewarding than when families and friends are singing, dancing and making music together.” - Al deCant
Al holds a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Elementary Education, and Educational Leadership. He actively performs throughout New England for schools, libraries, hospitals, local fairs, fundraisers as well as private and corporate functions. Al is a yearly presenter for the Connecticut Association for the Gifted – “Minds In Motion” and has given keynote addresses and presented interactive literacy workshops for many organizations including The Early Childhood Development Council, Reach Out & Read Connecticut and T.E.A.M. Early Education Head Start Program among many others.
Who are you taking lessons with and for how long?
I’ve been taking lessons with Chelsea for about a year. I have learned so many new skills that I can apply to to all my music new and old.
How did you get started with singing/music and what age were you?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to sing along to my sister's records. I was around 6 or 7 and only sang when no one could hear me. I began taking guitar lessons when I was 14 and discovered I could play and sing my favorite songs. My parents recognized my love for music and bought me a Guild Star Fire 3 and a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier which changed everything for me. It gave me the confidence to join a band, start writing my own music. I recorded my first song when I was 15.
Is there a particular singer or band that influences your style?
I love all styles of music from pop to classical. I can’t say there is one singer or band that influenced me, but James Brown, Sam Cook, The Beatles, James Taylor, Dion and the Belmonts were all influential.
What is your short term and long term goal for singing?
I want to develop my voice to be able to handle more challenging pieces and add the techniques I’ve learned to my own songwriting.
How often do you perform?
When I was performing for adults, I played 6-8 clubs per month. I currently only perform children’s music for schools, libraries, hospitals, and fairs. Before the pandemic I was working about between 100-120 days per year.
Do you write and record your own music?
I have been writing and recording original music since I was a teenager. I currently have three children’s albums, the last one recorded in 2020. I am currently working on releasing a new album.
Where can we find your music to listen to?
My music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon. My music and videos can also be found on YouTube as well as my website www.aldecant.com.
Was there something in your study of singing that was particularly challenging? If so, what made it difficult and how did you overcome it?
Beginning lessons again after many years, I quickly discovered that learning to breath correctly was a huge challenge. It was also difficult to overcome my exaggerated facial expressions, which I’m still working on. I work really hard to assimilate the techniques that I’m learning in my vocal lessons. And of course practice, practice, practice.
What is one piece of advice you would give new singers?
Do not be afraid to take chances and don’t wait for your music to be 100% perfect to showcase it. Sure you’ll make mistakes, but if you learn from those mistakes it will
inform you to make better decisions. Having all the technical skill in the world is a wonderful asset, but be sure to learn how the music industry works so you don’t find yourself in a situation that you may regret.
What was the best concert you’ve seen and why?
The most memorable and exciting concert was seeing Elton John live!
Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
I’ve performed in large and small clubs, restaurants, and bars when I was performing for adults. Currently I perform for preschools, elementary schools, libraries, and large outdoor events for children and their families. Each venue has it’s own uniqueness and I truly enjoy preforming at them all.
I have some upcoming public shows:
An interactive outdoor family concert on Sunday, May 23 at the Brookfield Public Library at 4:00 PM.
Family Peanut Butter Jam on Wednesday, August 4th at 10:15 AM at the Sherman Green Gazebo in Fairfield.
Outdoor Family Summer Concert on Tuesday, August 10 at Twin Brook Park in Trumbull - showtime 10:00 AM
What’s next for you?
My current goal is to write and record a new song and produce a video every 4-6 weeks and then release a new children’s album. And of course continue to perform family concerts and provide music and movement classes for children and their caregivers.
Check our Al's latest video, the "Crazy Dance."