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Area musicians to perform at tribute to Paul Strausman

Music has always been a part of Morse's life, too. He was a huge fan of the Grateful Dead, so much so that he spent a year following the group around the country, selling tie-dyed T-shirts.

Back in Albany, Morse met Strausman back in the mid-1980s, when Morse was dating a woman who worked at a day care center where Strausman performed. Morse remembers being impressed that Strausman was making a living playing for kids.

"I thought, that's really cool," Morse said.

Strausman eventually graduated from day care and began playing and teaching at schools around the region, including the Albany Academies and St. Catherine's Center for Children. At the time of his death, he was a music teacher at Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk district.

Morse, meanwhile, followed in Strausman's footsteps. After being hired as a teacher at Albany Medical Center's Kidskeller Day Care Center, Morse began singing and playing for his students. Word began to spread, and Morse decided to take his show on the road -- in a local sense.

"You could go from school to school and make money," he said. "It was an avenue to do what I really love."

Because he was working with young students, his songs weren't just about making melodies or having fun. He was actually helping students learn, singing songs on topics like number and letter recognition.

"They were like little sponges," Morse said, remembering the parents who told him their child rarely talked but had been going around singing Morse's songs.

Morse is active in the Children's Music Network, as is Roben. It's an international organization of performers, songwriters, educators and more. The group helped Morse reconnect in recent years with Strausman, and they laughed about how Morse had picked up where Strausman left off, playing the area daycare scene.

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