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What I've Learned, | Jan 28, 2016

Charles Moman, Indiana composer

This Seymour singer/songwriter helps bring Indiana's history alive.

Charles Moman performing “What is a Hoosier” at Euletherian College. /Photo courtesy of Charles Moman

It’s hard for Charles Moman to relax. With 37 years as an elementary school music teacher and his impressive portfolio of composed and performed musicals, the 64-year-old Seymour singer keeps busy. Moman is perhaps best known for his educational musical, “Indiana, That’s Where I Belong,” which is performed annually in hundreds of elementary schools across the state. So, what’s his secret for bringing Indiana’s history alive?

You have to truly know your history.

In the ’80s, I started a filmstrip company, and I filmed all the historic sites, so I really got deep into Indiana history - this led me to wanting to write a show. I probably came up with 40 song titles. I always hear parents say, “I loved the songs. I really liked the rap,” and then they say, "I didn’t know that about Lincoln.” When I visit a school, 4th grade teachers would say, “I loved your show. Your songs really do teach stuff.”

My students helped me know my audience.

I’m very fortunate because there are people who write children’s shows who don’t have access to kids. I knew quickly if a song didn’t work with them. I had songs I tried with my students, and they were like, “Really? You can do better than that.” It grounded me.

The audience loves getting involved.

I have a song called, “We’re All a Part of History.” It’s about how you can contribute to Indiana and how every day people are contributing. Each of us has a part to play, so what part are you going to play in the future of Indiana? Towards the end of the show, it’s going to be, “Where do I fit in the place of history, and what can I do to contribute to Indiana?”

Success feeds on success.

Once I did that Indiana show, it made me want to write more songs. It makes you feel like, “Oh, I am a songwriter.” Even though I’ve written a lot of songs in the past, I sort of felt like a duffer. When I finished that show, and people responded to it, I felt like I could comfortably call myself a songwriter without feeling pretentious.

You have to keep yourself motivated.

As a teacher, it always irritated me when you had somebody heading towards their retirement and they were coasting. I’m going to wear out, not rust out. Life is just too short. I’m a Christian with my worldview. I think we should do stuff to bless other people.

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