Best Children's Music of 2008

2008 was an amazing year for children's music, as new bands and established artists continued to push creative boundaries. Here are my top choices for best children's music of 2008:

1. Frances England - Family Tree

The perfect combination of style, subject, and performance. Frances knows exactly how to write songs to kids, almost like she's channeling the thoughts that go through the heads of our little ones.

2. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - Easy
Finally, a well-produced, well-performed hip hop album for kids that actually sounds like hip hop, is kid-centered, and isn't dumbed down.

3. Gunnar Madsen - I'm Growing
If I were looking for a songwriter to compose tunes for a Broadway musical for kids, this is the guy I'd pick. An amazing array of music and lyrics.

4. Randy Kaplan - Loquat Rooftop
Storytelling via song, par excellence. Kaplan's unique cover song choices and intimate delivery make his second kids' album a truly rewarding listening experience for the whole family.

5. The Terrible Twos - Jerzy the Giant
The New Amsterdams record their second kids' album under their children's music moniker The Terrible Twos, and, to the advantage of kids and their families, seem to be saving their best songs for their youngest fans.

6. Recess Monkey - Tabby Road
The fourth kids' album from these Beatle-worshiping educators from Seattle. And the thing is, they just keep getting better!

7. Sunflow - Under the Stars
Best "Naptime" album of the year. If Harry Nilsson wrote the music to the daydreams in your head, this is what it would sound like.

8. Barenaked Ladies - Snack Time!
BNL's first foray into the kids' music world features their trademark humor and between-the-lines wit. Plus lots of radio-friendly pop music!

9. Brian Vogan - Little Songs
Warm, friendly, and funny rock and folk songs from Seattleite Brian Vogan. One of the best rookie kids' albums in a while.

10. Little Miss Ann - Clap for Love
A combination of subtle socially conscious messages and rousing covers and originals lets kids know that they can have fun and get involved at the same time. A great sophomore album from Chicago's Ann Torralba.

Instead of ranking any more albums, I've simply listed below some of my favorite children's CDs of 2008, all of which deserve a spin on any family's record player. Enjoy!

Astrograss - Let Me Stay Up All Night
Baby Loves Hip Hop - Dino 5
Board of Education - Board of Education
Joel Caithamer - The Biggest Everything in the World
Matt Clark - Funny Little Fella
Daddy A Go Go - Rock of All Ages
Kimya Dawson - Alphabutt
Harmonica Pocket - Ladybug One
The Jellydots - Changing Skies
Lisa Loeb - Camp Lisa
me3 - "The Thin King"
Medeski Martin & Wood - Let's Go Everywhere
Mr. Leebot - Activate!
Putumayo Kids - African Dreamland
Justin Roberts - Pop Fly
Peter Rundquist - Bug Feathers
Danielle Sansone - Two Flowers
ScribbleMonster - Songs with No Character
Spanglish Wrangler - Spanglish Sing-Along!
They Might Be Giants - Here Come the 123s
Various Artists - Funky Kidz
Dan Zanes - Nueva York!

A message from the CEO of Kindermusik International

Whether it is the impending close of another calendar year or the onset of the holiday season, December always seems an apt time for reflection. This past year has been tumultuous by any measure. Yet, through the ups and downs, I am reminded of the importance of what we do together in community through Kindermusik.

In this past year we have reached hundreds of thousands of children with music education. For some, this was a continuation of a family tradition of music making. For others, it was a first opportunity to experience the joy of the Kindermusik classroom. For a special few, it was through the kindness and charity of both KI and licensed educators that Kindermusik became possible. And for literally countless families, their homes were graced by music and warmed by memories of special together time for parent and child.

I still remember that tingle I felt in my first Kindermusik class with my daughter Sarah (who is now almost 21). It was an emotional reckoning that I had found a safe, loving, accepting place for my daughter and for me. I have found that all moments in life are not equal in the passage of time. Kindermusik time simply passes more slowly, more richly and with more emotional saturation than others in my life. And, if this is true for many of the Kindermusik families around the world, we have indeed made a difference.

Few things in life are more affirming than knowing that the work into which you pour your life energy is significant. Think of the alternative. Thankfully, as a member of the Kindermusik community, we rarely question the significance of our efforts. Though the business of running a Kindermusik program can be challenging, the mission never is. Yet, it sure does a soul good to be reminded of, and rejuvenated by, this timeless truth:

Kindermusik is an important part of what is so very right in our world.

For years to come, we will fret about the sad events and tragedies of 2008, the circumstances of those less fortunate, the lives affected by war, famine, terrorism. But we can console ourselves in knowing that we each took steps within our local community to make our mark on our world. We believed in Kindermusik, stepped joyously into the classroom (or supported those who did) and brought the gift of music, and all the promise it holds, to children and their families once again.

May your holidays be joyous. May we have peace on earth and good will to all. And, may Kindermusik live in the heart of every child.

Best always,

Michael G. Dougherty

Chairman & CEO

Kindermusik International

Dream Away with Sunflow

Holiday season got ya stressed? Sit back and dig Sunflow's "Goodnight," from their album Under the Stars. Lovely.

Sunflow - "Goodnight"

Music for everyone.

"Throughout most of the world and for most of human history, music making was as natural an activity as breathing and walking, and everyone participated. Singing and dancing were a natural activity in every body's lives, seamlessly integrated and involving everyone." This fact intrigues me, since we now pay lots of money in the USA to hear "professionals" perform. When did we decide that music was not for everyone or that only the chosen few were worthy to express themselves musically?

Personally, I still think music is a natural expression that is intended for everyone. I was reminded of this point earlier this week. We were driving home from the grocery store and enjoying some Christmas music. The next thing I knew, two children, four stuffed animals, and one mom were all singing Jingle Bells at the top of their lungs. We each had our own style and rhythm going, but together we were certainly making a joyful song! It made me smile to share that creative and fun moment with them, and I found myself thinking how many people miss out on that kind of experience. They aren't comfortable singing just for the fun of singing, yet they want their children to enjoy music. Children learn by example, so get out there and share some music together. They won't care whether your singing is perfect. It's sure to be music to their ears!

Merry Christmas!

Excerpt quoted from "This Is Your Brain On Music" by Daniel J. Levitin

***Mariana Iranzi***

Sounding like a mix of Os Mutantes, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Wailers, and Astrud Gilberto, Argentinian musician Mariana Iranzi's first album for kids is an amazing amalgamation of influences that translates beautifully into the playful, lively Aventura Collage.

Iranzi has travelled an interesting musical path, from Buenos Aires to the Berklee College of Music, studying along the way with an array of musicians. She performs regularly in the northeast club circuit as an expert bassist, teaches music at Baby Wiggle in Boston, and performs with coworker Sarah Wheeler in the toddler band Little Groove.

The lyrics of Aventura Collage are for the most part in Spanish, but any family will still dig sing-along tunes like "Pajaro Carpintero," "Contamos Hasta 10?" and "Fieston;" folk songs like "Caballito," "A San Nicolas," and "El Patito Feo;" and the album-ending lullabies "Buenas Noches" and "Sueno de una Noche de Verano."

Check out the horn-fueled reggae of "Todos los Ninos del Mundo," the Toddler Time free-for-all instrumental "Bluseando," and the Tom Ze-inspired madness of "Vieja Cachivache." Then Samba along to "Cuidemos al Planeta," and Tango as you listen to "Milonga Temprana," which features the traditional Argentinian dance and musical style known as the Milonga, the precursor to the Tango. And you can't miss the spoken word tale "La Jirafa Bacana" and the hip hop tune "Abra Cadabra."

Inventive and entertaining, Aventura Collage is a welcome addition to the kids' music world. Let's hope Iranzi has more musical adventures in store for children and their families.

Dry land

I know it has been a while since my last post. We just got back from our cruise, and I finally am getting some time to post again. We had a great time with stops in Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Dominican Republic. The last two stops were definitely my favorite! Here's one of the pictures I took in the Dominican Republic.
I miss my Kindermusik families, and I am looking forward to seeing you again after the first of the year.

What? More Christmas Music for Kids?!?

That's right, more Xmas tunes, Beatles-style! The Butties formed at Syracuse back in the early eighties, but you may know them as The Blanks, the a cappella band that pops up on Scrubs every once in a while. The Butties' 2005 Fab Four-influenced Christmas album, 12 Greatest Carols, sticks closely to the trademark Beatles sound and harmonies, and covers their entire career chronologically, from "Joy to the World"/"Please Please Me" to "Let It Snow"/"Let It Be." Dig especially their version of "A Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" melded to "A Day in the Life."

Rubber Band are a Beatles tribute band from Denmark that have been performing for almost 20 years. Their 1994 album Xmas! The Beatmas sounds more like any typical Mersey Beat band than vintage John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but it's rockin' holiday fun, nonetheless. Standout tracks include their version of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" done up like "Taxman," and a cover of Wham!'s "Last Christmas."

***The Boogers***

The first true Ramones-inspired album to hit the kids' music shelves! Sure, there have been one-off songs on various children's CDs that were little tributes to the Ramones' sound, but this one ... from the copy of the Ramones' Road to Ruin album cover and title, to the signature Ramones logo on the inlay card, to the image of a vinyl record on the CD itself (on the "Spire" label, no less), The Boogers' Road to Rock is fun for punks young and old.

Former punk rocker and current developmental psychologist Paul Crowe put both careers to work on Road to Rock, applying a healthy dose of hey ho let's go to simple originals and tried-and-true Toddler Time tunes. Crowe's self-penned songs are worth the price of the CD alone: album-opener "This Song is About Transportation!" the no-holds-barred "Peanut Butter & Jelly," and the soon-to-be sing-along classic "I Don't Need to Be Worried" give you a great idea of The Boogers' sound.

Road to Rock features a cover of Country Joe McDonald and Blair Hardman's I'm So Glad (I've Got Skin), also covered by The Persuasions on their 1999 kids' album On the Good Ship Lollipop. The Boogers rework the song twice as "I'm So Glad (I Got Teeth)" and, later on the album, as "I'm So Glad (I Got Feet)." The band also set comix legend Jay Lynch's "Um Tut Sut" to music (who, by the way, contributed the awesome cover art); and rewrite The Ramones' "This Ain't Havana" as "I Like Bananas," and "Judy is a Punk" as "Fish Will Fly".

Lots of short, fun, loud songs ... perfect for your budding rocker!

More Christmas Music for Kids!

Lookin' for holiday tunes, but ready for something different? Give these two kindie rock bands a listen: Ernie & Neal's Christmas Rocks! and Trout Fishing In America's Merry Fishes to All are both full of original Chrismas songs that the whole family will dig. E & N bring their classic rock and roll style to the table for their third album for children, and the Trouts stick to their rootsy, folksy sound on their seventh kids' album. I've included longer reviews over at

You can check out samples for both Christmas Rocks! and Merry Fishes to All at the CD Baby website. Have a rockin' Xmas!

Hanukkah Music for Kids

The Eight Nights of Light are approaching, so I've compiled a list of great Hanukkah music for kids over at to help celebrate the season. Let us know if any other children's artists have released a Hanukkah CD and we'll add it to the list!

New class times

We have added some Friday class times to our Spring schedule. You can view the new schedule and register for classes by clicking here. In times like these, it's important to relish the things that really matter, and quality time spent in relationships with you and your children rank at the top of our list. Thank you for sharing your precious children with us and for YOUR commitment to a gift which will last a lifetime! Let us know how we can help!

Punk Rock PB and J

Here's a video from another new kids' group I love, The Boogers. Paul Crowe and band take their Ramones worship to the nth degree by making a whole album of punk rock-inspired songs for children (more on Road to Rock later), including their tribute to everyone's favorite sandwich:

The Boogers - "Peanut Butter and Jelly"

***The Board of Education***

Short review: If Klaatu made a kids' album, this is what it would sound like.

Long review: Seattle powerpop band Central Services combine their love of melody and hooks with classroom subjects that might otherwise be yawned at by Fourth Graders, to create the ridiculously catchy, funny, and intelligent CD Central Services Presents: The Board of Education! If you dig Recess Monkey, then you'll like Central Services' alter ego kids' group, The Board of Education. Here's a funny thing about those two bands: BOE are rockers who write songs that teach, and RM are teachers who like to rock. And both bands are from Seattle ... cool!

"Rise and Shine" kicks off the album with "Rock and Roll All Nite"-meets-Elephant 6 pop explosion, then "Beverly the Village Misfit" reels off mind-blowing scientific facts to the tune of Ben Folds Five glam rock. The band gets close to They Might Be Giants territory with "8 is a Number," a big band jumpin' jive tune that observes "when eight takes a nap, that's infinity."

"The Lonely Tomato" wistfully ponders his place in the fruit/vegetable picture, then majestically celebrates his many uses, while "Know Your Inventors" honors patent holders generally and William W. Averill specifically (asphalt pavement) with piano pop. The love-song-in-disguise "Lunchtime (Tin Foil Robots)" uses Free Design-like harmonies to relate a school crush with lines like "Tin foil, it won't protect you from love."

Memphis R&B helps describe the good points of "Your Sensitive Elbow," and the tongue-in-cheek "Ice Ages are Fun!" warns about the results of global warming via crunchy pop music. And the chunky rock and roll of "The Many Uses, and Dangers, of Commas" accompanies a humorous grammar lesson.

The 8mm school film sound effects and wordy lyrics of "Volcanoes and You," combined with its greasy lounge pop groove, make this tune worthy of a classic Ween album, and "Heading Home" brings the album full-circle as the school day ends. The CD closes (kinda) with the astonishingly beautiful "August Lullaby," which completely catches you by surprise based on the rest of the rockin' album. In fact, Pixar would kill for a ballad this good on any of their soundtracks nowadays. Oh, and there's the hidden track "Hiccy Uppy" (I think), a very short Vaudeville song about, um, hiccups!

The Board of Education is an awesome headphone album for upper elementary kids, full of witty wordplay, great production, and reeealy catchy tunes. Parents will definitely like it as much as their kids do, maybe more!


Man, I'm so taken with Michael Rachap's Readeez project, I just gotta show you a video before I post a full review of the DVD. I wrote a short blurb about Readeez Volume One over at, but I'll have a more detailed description soon. Until then, enjoy the poptacular "Circle and Square," a clip worthy of classic Sesame Street.

Michael Rachap's Readeez Volume One - "Circle and Square"

Dan Zanes-

We have been doing the Kindermusik version of this song in our Our Time class. I thought you might also enjoy dancing to Dan Zane's version.

A View From The Inside: Kids' Musicians Who Blog

I've always loved reading about the day-to-day lives of rockers, not necessarily how many tv sets they've thrown out various hotel windows, but normal stuff like working in the studio or playing in front of a rabid crowd.

The kids' music world is building up a pretty good list of musicians who blog about their experiences, from Yosi Levin's interview-rich Indie Kids Rock, to Monty Harper's neverending pro-library tour at Monty's Children's Music Blog, from Johnette Downing's look at the business side of kids' music on her self-titled Johnette Downing blog, to Steve Dreher's musings on music and parenthood at Rockin' the Kids' Music World, to Eric Herman's reviews and interviews on Cool Tunes for Kids and his tour diary at Travelblogue.

The newest blog in town belongs to The Hipwaders' Tito Uquillas, whose Christmas-specific blog Kindie Christmas discusses holiday music and writing songs for kids, as well as providing some nifty samples of Tito's favorite Christmas songs. Drop by, check it out, and let Tito know what you think. AND, if you know of any other kindierock bloggers, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

***The Fab Four***

OK, I'm gonna sneak this one onto KidsMusicThatRocks because it's just too much fun to pass up. The Fab Four, a Beatles tribute band from Southern California, released A Fab Four Christmas in 2002, their first holiday CD done up a la JohnPaulGeorge&Ringo. You could even consider it a mashup album, as the band mix spot-on renditions of early-era tunes like "And I Love Her," "Help!" and "Baby's In Black" with classic Christmas songs. And you just gotta hear "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to the tune of "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Joy to the World" done in the style of "Please Please Me."

What makes it extra fun for Beatledorks like me is that fact that the band went to the trouble of using relatively obscure tunes like "Mr. Moonlight" and "Tell Me What You See" to spice up oldies like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Good King Wenceslas." Merry Christmas, and crank it up!

Jingle Jangle Jamboree

Come celebrate the season Kindermusik style. Jingle Jangle Jamboree is an hour of fun activities and Christmas music the whole family can enjoy. Choose from three different event times and register by clicking here. Cost: $10 per child
December 16 - 10:00 AM
December 16 - 6:00 PM
December 19 - 10:00 AM

Christmas Music for Kids

Christmas is only about three weeks away (what!?!), so, just in time for that holiday party or for a nice musical gift, here's a list of great Christmas music for kids over at the site.

For this list I was leaning towards more traditional, back-to-the-basics holiday tunes, so before your young'uns start digging Patsy and Elmo's "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," or "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses, they can learn the golden oldies from Mitch Miller and Bing Crosby, newer versions by Susie Tallman and Raffi, or just get in the Christmas spirit with soundtracks from A Charlie Brown Christmas and John Denver and the The Muppets.

Let it snow!

Kindermusik-Ice skating

We had a great time today "ice skating" in our Kindermusik Imagine That class. You can try this activity at home with your own favorite winter songs and some paper or plastic plates. Have fun!

***Miriam Makeba***

In honor of South African songstress Miriam Makeba, who passed just two weeks ago, here's a short review of one of her indispensable albums, Sangoma, recorded in 1988 for Warner Brothers Records. A Sangoma is a traditional healer in southern African cultures, and these songs reflect that sense of history.

All the tunes are sung in Xhosa, a South African dialect, but don't let that deter you from enjoying these prayer songs, parables, lullabies, and gathering songs. Makeba is accompanied by a group of female singers on these traditional melodies, sometimes with sparse percussion, often a cappella style. Good vibes and a joyous spirit radiate from every song on the album.

A great way to introduce your young ones to the beautiful world of music from our beautiful Earth. And, this being 2008 and all, you can immediately download the album or songs for your family's listening pleasure.

Music and Language Skills

What interests me most about this research is that they noted greater progress from those who studied music earlier. It's also interesting to note that the people involved in the study were not musicians, just people who had studied music.

Study Guides for School Shows

By Johnette Downing

Study guides are an important element in your school booking confirmation packet. Study guides assist administrators, teachers and students in preparing for your upcoming performance by giving them useful information about you, your program and how your program fits into the curriculum. Below is a brief outline of the information you should address when creating your study guides:

A. About the Artist

A brief artist bio that indicates something about you, your art form, your accomplishments, and your experience.

B. About the Program

A brief overview indicating the theme, style, age range, length and content of your program. You may expand this section by adding the history of your art form or the particular style within your art form that you will be presenting. For instance, if you are performing a jazz program, you may want to make a statement about the history of jazz and why you have chosen to present this style of music.

C. Curriculum Connections

Indicate how your program makes curriculum connections in the areas of math, science, art, history, music, English, social studies, dance, etc. For instance, a jazz program may make curriculum connections in social studies, history and music.

D. Enrichment Activities

Include simple activities and ideas that the teachers and students can use before and after your program to enhance their understanding of your program and your art form.

E. Resources

Provide teachers with a resource list of books, audios, videos, articles, and websites for further information.

If you make your study guides simple, user friendly, fun and informative, you will increase its usefulness. Teachers have very little time to pour through pages of text or to use activities that require lots of time, materials and energy. The study guides should be on one sheet of paper (if necessary, back and forth) and the activities should be easily accomplished within a few minutes or by using readily available school supplies, books and materials. You can always provide in-depth information or expanded activities by including yourself as a resource on your resource list. The goal of a study guide is to enhance the learning experience about your program and your art form for the children and faculty.

The key is simple, user-friendly, fun and informative.

Copyright 2002 Johnette Downing

***Dog On Fleas***

In my extremely humble opinion, Dog On Fleas are one of the few kids' bands who make an effort to stretch out and grow as artists. Dig their riverboat/back porch/one-microphone approach on 2003's Cranberry Sauce Flotilla, and their solid pop/rock/world sound on 2006's When I Get Little. This year's Beautiful World, their fifth CD for kids, is a great collection of unmistakablely Dog On Fleas tunes, augmented by analog Moog synthesizers and whispers of electronica.

The album kicks off with the title tune, which mixes 6/4 and 4/4 metres with piccolos and flutes to create a world music ode to our world. Next is John Hughes' thumping tune of affirmation, "Star Tonight," then comes the head bobbin', in-your-face bass of "Do You Wanna Know My New Dance Step?" or, as my wife exclaimed, "Hey! Justin Timberlake for kids!" And the mysterious-sounding "Water Planet," with its Zappa-esque horn/woodwind arrangement, views Earth from an alien perspective.

John Hughes' beautifully simple "The Beach Song" puts your toes right in the Hawaiian sand, and the rockin' "Dumpling" takes a metaphysical look at existence. The wonderfully nonsensical "Lima Bean," featuring vocals from Lorette Velvette and Uncle Rock, contains awesome lines like "Lima Bean's lookin' in a full-length mirror /Singin' Rod Stewart so the whole town can hear her"; the Ben Folds Five-inspired "Crawl To Your Mother" is then followed by a waltzing "Where Would You Fly?" featuring Ben Richter's musical saw.

"I Love Your Accent" celebrates one world made of many people with the mantra "I love your accent! Where ya from?"; the buzzing new wave/rowdy New Orleans rock of "Unbirthday" dares listeners to sit still! Good vibes are flowing on the vegetable-lovin' "Sittin' in the Field," while the jazzy "Balloon Man" asks the amusing question, "Do you like Pop Music? Ahh ... probably not!" And the album ends with the pretty pop of the word-filled "Birds of a Feather", and the quiet lullaby to tiny tots 'round the world, "Babies," featuring Frances England.

This Hudson Valley, NY, collective of musicians and artists have been performing together for ten years now, and their combined experience together as bandmates and songwriters just makes them that much better. Look around you: it is a beautiful world, and Dog On Fleas are happy to tell you all about it.

Top Turkey Tunes for Tots

Wow, only a week until Thanksgiving! Just for the occasion, I've put together a list of downloadable Thanksgiving music for kids over on my site for your last-minute holiday party planning.

The list of iPod-ready Thanksgiving songs includes favorites like Laurie Berkner, Dog On Fleas, John McCutcheon, and The Uncle Brothers, as well as lesser-known tunes by folksinger Si Kahn, kids from the Quincy Choral Society, Jewish Music superstar Debbie Friedman, and a 1956 recording of children from Brooklyn's P.S. 24.

Save me a slice of pumpkin pie!

Aimee Carter

Come see how far your child can go!

Kwanzaa Music for Kids

There are thousands of Christmas music CDs available for kids and their families, but what about music that celebrates Kwanzaa?

I've compiled a short list of great Kwanzaa albums over on my site, but I know there have to be more out there. If you know of an excellent Kwanzaa CD (or out-of-print LP), or if you're a musician who has recorded an album of songs celebrating the Seven Principles, please feel free to leave a comment or make suggestions.

Ranns Doll Clothes

With Christmas coming up, I thought I would share this website with you. It's Ranns Doll Clothing and features handmade items that fit American Girl and other popular dolls.

Thanks Cindy for the heads up.

Themed Shows

Hey Venues!

Did you know that most children's musicians offer shows according to themes such as animals, multi-cultural, holidays, transportation, self-esteem, drug awareness, environment, bugs, marine life, literacy, music history, history, seasons, special needs, character building, etc.? Well, we do! When hiring a musician for your special event, inquire as to whether or not the musician has a show to harmonize with the theme of the event. If the musician does not already have a show to suit the event theme, they may be willing to tailor their show to include songs that do match the theme. Musicians usually have a huge repertoire of songs and can often create a show tailor made for you! The musician will often be happy to do it so give it a try!

Justin Roberts Wins Fids & Kamily Top Spot!

For the second time in three years, Justin Roberts earns the number one rank in the annual Fids & Kamily Awards for best children's music. His album Pop Fly comes in atop this year's impressive list of kids' CDs, including Frances England's Family Tree and They Might Be Giants' Here Come the 123s.

Here's the complete 2008 Fids & Kamily Top Ten, along with 10 honorable mentions and 47 nominated albums.

Story Time

Most, if not all, of us recognize the importance of reading with your child. According to a review published online ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, young children whose parents read aloud to them have better language and literacy skills when they go to school. It makes sense that children who have been read aloud to are also more likely to develop a love of reading. The advantages they gain persist, but what I found most interesting when reading about this study was that the way in which we read aloud affected the outcome. For example, describing pictures in the book, explaining the meaning of the story, and encouraging the child to talk about what has been read to them and to ask questions caused greater improvement in their understanding of the world and their social skills. What are some of your favorite books to read aloud with your child?

***Johnny Keener***

West Virginia-born, Portland, Oregon-based Johnny Keener throws his musical influences into the pot and dishes out a great collection of rootsy, bluesy, Americana for kids and their families. Long John is his second CD for children, the first being 2006's Elephants Over the Fence. Check out Keener's solo album for grownups, as well as his work with the band Yoyodyne.

Long John kicks off with Henry Thomas' classic "Fishin' Blues," made famous by The Lovin' Spoonful on their 1965 album Do You Believe in Magic, and by Taj Mahal on his 1968 album De Ole Folks at Home. Next is the rockabilly raveup "Run Around," a tune that would be right at home on a Buddy Holly 45.

From the old to the new and somewhere in between: the title tune is a call-and-response African-American field song, followed by a cover of The Apples In Stereo's powerpop "Energy," from last year's New Magnetic Wonder. And then comes a spirited cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down On the Corner," their hit from 1969's Willy and the Poor Boys.

"I Don't Want It" is a sea shanty/waltz, followed by a Stray Cats-like version of the folk tune "Cat Came Back." Then there's a cover of Cat Stevens' great singalong, "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out," written for the 1971 film Harold and Maude. The album ends with the quiet shuffle of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," and Johnny's own take on the oldie "Mockingbird."

Super folk/rock/blues for the entire family!

I Love You Rituals

I Love You Rituals is a book by Dr. Becky Bailey. I has some creative ways to help you connect with your child as well as promote better attention and higher level thinking. You can also click on the link above to get free tips about Conscious Discipline from her website.

Now enrolling for January classes

You can view our full schedule for Spring semester by clicking here. Classes will begin the week of January 5th. We even have a new monthly payment plan to make it even easier to enjoy the fun. Get enrolled today!

reflections on the future

As I am sitting in the Raleigh/Durham Airport, I find myself reflecting over the last week. I have been at the Kindermusik Convention in downtown Raleigh, celebrating the 30th birthday of Kindermusik International. It has been four days of inspiration, information, lots of fun and new friends, and even a few surprises. We spoke on change and our commitment to reaching children with the power of music. We spoke of legacy and anticipations for the future, and I think these things speak not only of our Kindermusik classes, but for our families. We are building a legacy as we invest ourselves into our children. I look forward to watching what the future holds as we work together to build it.

Vote for Change? Hey, Clap for Love!

Live from the Beat Kitchen in Chicago, Ann Torralba performs the title track from her latest CD, Clap for Love.

Little Miss Ann - "Clap for Love"

Tap into the power of music.

I thought this was a very interesting article about the power of music. You can read more of it by clicking the link at the source listing below.

More than 7,000 runners who recently raced in a half-marathon in London were under the influence of a powerful performance-enhancing stimulant -- pop music.
The music at London's "Run to the Beat" race was selected on the basis of the research and consultation of sport psychologist Costas Karageorghis. He has learned how to devise soundtracks that are just as powerful, if not more so, as some of the less legal substances that athletes commonly take to excel.
The link between music and athletic performance is just one example of the inroads scientists and doctors are making into understanding the amazing power that music has over your mind and body. Science has shown that music really can kill pain, reduce stress, better your brain and basically change how you experience life.

Live Science October 15, 2008

Tomorrow is a Highway

I'm happy this morning, happy that there's so much excitement in the air after last night's election, happy that the shitheads who always complained about the government finally got up off their lazy asses and voted, happy that my little boy got to go into the voting booth with me and see how important everyone's voice is.

The atmosphere was absolutely electric up here in the North Jersey/NYC area last night: I swear we heard a celebratory roar of the masses when the winning numbers were posted online and were aired on television. I listen to Matt Pinfield on WRXP in the mornings, and grown men, big burly dudes from Queens, Brooklyn, and the Jersey Shore, were calling in today on the verge of tears talking about how happy and excited they were about the election. Times ain't gonna be easy, but they sure are a'changin'.

So, in honor of President Obama, dig Pete Seeger and Lee Hays' classic but incredibly relevant "Tomorrow is a Highway." Download the song, listen to it with your kids, and talk about what's goin' on.

"Tomorrow is a Highway"

Tomorrow is a highway broad and fair,
And we are the many who'll travel there.
Tomorrow is a highway broad and fair,
And we are the workers who'll build it there;
And we will build it there.

Come, let us build a way for all mankind,
A way to leave this evil year behind,
To travel onward to a better year
Where love is, and there will be no fear,
Where love is and no fear.

Now is the shadowed year when evil men,
When men of evil thunder war again.
Shall tyrants once again be free to tread,
Above our most brave and honored dead?
Our brave and honored dead.

O, comrades, come and travel on with me,
We'll go to our new year of liberty.
Come, walk upright, along the people's way,
From darkness, unto the people's day.
From dark, to sunlit day.

Tomorrow is a highway broad and fair
And hate and greed shall never travel there
But only they who've learned the peaceful way
Of brotherhood, to greet the coming day.
We hail the coming day.

Words by Lee Hays Music by Pete Seeger (1949)
TRO - (c) 1950 (renewed) Folkways Music Publishers Inc. New York, NY

Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos with Uncle Rock!

"Picnic in the Graveyard" is pretty much the best damn song about Day of the Dead yer gonna find! Sounding like nothing less than a lost Los Lobos single, this track from Robert Warren's 2006 CD, Plays Well with Others, is a great introduction to the sentiment behind this ancient Mexican tradition.

Uncle Rock - "Picnic in the Graveyard"

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you all a spooktacular and safe Halloween!

"The hottest band in the world!"...Happy Halloween!

In celebration of the absolute greatest Halloween costume for us kids ... ever ... KISS! So, were you Starchild, the Demon, Space Ace, or Catman?

KISS - "Shout It Out Loud"


We at Delightful Sounds are sincerely sorry to hear about the bankruptcy and unexpected closure of all Gymboree locations in the area. The loss of tuition without possibility of refund for so many Gymboree Play customers is astounding, and in light of this, we would like to present Gymboree families with the opportunity to continue with a quality Kindermusik class for FREE. This invitation will allow any transferring Gymboree family to finish our fall Kindermusik semester completely free of charge. We would love to meet you and your child, and look forward to introducing you to all Kindermusik has to offer! For more information and to schedule your classes, contact us at (813) 503-6976, or visit our website at The fall semester ends December 12th, so hurry to reserve your spot today!

Another reason technology is so cool...

Remember this classic Halloween album from years ago? Well, unless you're a hard-core audiophile who still owns a turntable, you ain't gonna hear it 'cause it still hasn't been released on CD.

***Breaking News!***

Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House has just been made available on iTunes as an mp3 download! This album doesn't contain any music, but it does present a great collection of Halloween sounds. Many grandparents and parents will remember this record from the mid-'60s and the early '70s, when it was re-released.

The sound effects were culled from Disney's vaults, and include creaks, groans, screams, and screeches from short animated films and Disney park rides. Side one of the original album was narrated by Laura Olsher, and side two was pretty much the sounds from side one without the narration. Watch out, though: the track "Chinese Water Torture" contains potentially embarrassing, politically incorrect "Asian" dialogue.

Here's Haunted Dimensions' super overview of the history of the album. Spooky, silly, and hair-raising fun!

***Eban Schletter***

Last-minute Halloween musical treat: Eban Schletter's Witching Hour! Watcha got here is one of the best-produced Halloween albums you'll ever hear. Schletter has composed tons of music for film and television, including Mr. Show and Spongebob Squarepants. On this project, he enlisted the talents of musicians and actors like Grant Lee Phillips, Dave "Gruber" Allen, and Dave Foley to add to the songs, skits, incantations, and stories ... spooky and otherwise.

The cool thing about this album is that it's currently being presented live on stage at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles. Not a toddler album, for sure, but your 8-11 year olds will love it. Boo!!

Candy Recall

With Halloween fast approaching, I wanted to be sure everyone knew about this recent candy recall. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a warning for the Sherwood brand Pirate's Gold Milk Chocolate coins. They are being recalled due to the fact that they contain Melamine, the ingredient in milk product that has caused many infant deaths in china. These candies are sold at Costco, as well as many bulk and dollar stores. Please make sure to check your children's Halloween candy and please pass this information along to other parents!

Delightfully Different

I was reading my friend's blog today. Heidi and I go way back, and I love reading her posts because she is so open and honest about her life. The post that caught my attention today was a lighthearted post about what exactly is normal. It captured my interest because it is the plight of all parents to ponder that question. Is my child normal? My response would be, "Define normal; or for that matter, define abnormal."

I believe normal is relative. It's affected by our perception of what perfection is, our experiences, our upbringing... The list could go on and on. Sometimes we get so caught up with fitting in, we forget that being different is not a bad thing either. After all, I'm sure Einstein was a little different too. I've always told my children that everybody is really good at something and really not-so-good at other things. It's part of what makes us who we are. Half the fun is figuring that out. It's like little treasures buried in each of us, just waiting to be discovered.

Maybe your two year old hasn't quite learned how to jump like the other toddlers or doesn't know their colors as well. Unless their overall skills are well outside the typical age ranges, it's no reason to be concerned. Is it normal for a three year old to know how to read? Is it normal for a one year old to know how to open a lidded container? It wouldn't be typical to do these things at that age, but are these children abnormal or just delightfully different? I guess that's up to you to decide.


After recording five CDs of kids' music that sounds sorta like Justin Roberts for slightly younger audiences, Steve Roslonek (aka SteveSongs) releases his first DVD collection, The Marvelous Musical Adventures, on the Rounder Records label. Roslonek also recently translated his relentlessly sunny and upbeat style and songs to television, landing a gig on PBS KIDS as the singing "Mr. Steve."

The Marvelous Musical Adventures is loaded with music and fun, including a ten-song live concert with SteveSongs' full band, eight music videos featuring live action and animation, a seven-song bonus music CD, and two short segments from PBS KIDS. After everything's said and done, this DVD/CD set is a pretty incredible deal for the money ($12.99 from Amazon, $11.99 from Rounder), considering the amount of entertainment crammed into this one package.

If you and your kids like silly and fun, upbeat, old-school kids' music, you'll dig The Marvelous Musical Adventures of SteveSongs.


We were talking earlier about "Naptime Music," tunes that are not really lullabies, but songs to contemplate while you're watching clouds float by or just taking a break from the annoying skronk of the world in general. Sunflow's Under the Stars is another great example of that genre, an album that features soothing lyrics, loads of harmonies, and knowing nods to Emitt Rhodes, Harry Nilsson, Paul McCartney & Wings, The High Llamas, and Barry Manilow. Personally, this is the kind of record that makes me want to plug in my bass and sing that fourth or fifth harmony part.

American Nancy Falkow and Dubliner Fran King, both accomplished popmeisters in their own right, teamed up to create Under the Stars with help from fellow melody maker Duncan Maitland. All three are based in Ireland now, which may account for the lyrical images of oceans, rain, rivers, and seas that populate several of the songs on Under the Stars.

Fran and Nancy trade off lead vocals on every other song, singing their own compositions. Under the Stars kicks off with the co-written, impossibly beautiful "(When You're In) Slumberland," Fran's Harry Nilsson homage. I just can't believe people are still allowed to write songs this good! Next is Nancy's sweetly jaunty "I Wish You Love," reminiscent of Nilsson's late '60s tunes (Sunflow love Nilsson!), and not a little similar to The Jellydots' "Pretty Little Baby." Fran follows with his very Paul McCartney-like "Eve's Lullaby (My Little One)," a song so tasty the ex-Beatle would trade his knighthood for it.

Nancy's "Sleepytown" is a quietly acoustic tune that contains the awesome line "Bumpy, rumbling stones will sooth your soul / Just a little break from rock and roll", after which waves wash up on a shore, fading into Fran's "Daisies & Orchids." The song begins serenely and builds into another McCartney-ish tune, with a chorus straight outta Paul's Flowers in the Dirt era. And Nancy's "Rock-A-Bye Dreams" is another mostly acoustic tune that would (and should) be a chart-topper on American country radio.

Fran's breezy "August Moon" features the baion beat that so fascinated Leiber & Stoller and Pomus & Shuman (check out "Spanish Harlem," "There Goes My Baby," "Save the Last Dance for Me," and "This Magic Moment"), and a chorus that would have been right at home on McCartney's Red Rose Speedway. The sweeping "Now Sleep" is Nancy's exploration of the connection between parents and their children, and the comfort kids take in mom or dad's arms at bedtime. The album ends with Fran's soft Tin Pan Alley tune, "Dreamboat," and Nancy's dreamy waltz, "Goodnight."

I've talked a lot on this blog about music being a powerful entity, a force that transcends genre, era, or listener age. This here album is so full of good vibes and beautiful melodies it's a shame you have to cobble it with a label like "children's music" ... so we won't! Under the Stars is music, folks ... dig it, and buy copies for all your family.

I'll send the medical bills to Yo Gabba Gabba!

Steamboat has developed a very cute but very intense obsession with skateboarding ever since he saw the episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! where Tony Hawk skates through his Dancey Dance segment. I brought home Hawk's autobiography, Occupation: Skateboarder, so Steamboat could check out the photos, and one of his favorite was Hawk with a gigantic scrape on his lower hip (a booboo, according to Steamboat). But Steamboat is also adamant about how you always have to wear a helmet and knee pads and elbow pads.

Here we are hanging out in a local coffee shop, reading an old skateboarding book I found. We had just watched the "Careful" episode of YGG! that features a kid skating throughout a 1-to-10 counting segment (great, now Steamboat is convinced he can skate).

3 Keys to Success

In the past, I have talked about the three keys to helping your child become a successful student and adult.

  1. A sensory rich environment to explore

  2. The freedom to explore it

  3. An available parent to explore it with

Today, while doing some research, I found an interesting article about this exact subject. Part of the article was a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2002, and it states that "toddlers who physically explore their environment, engage socially with other children, and verbally interact with adults are likely to have better scholastic and reading abilities as teenagers compared to less engaging toddlers." That seems too easy. Could it possibly be that simple to actively and creatively play with your children and thereby make them better learners? The answer is YES! I see it everyday in my Kindermusik classroom and at home with my own two children. We, as parents, need to be reminded that sometimes the simple things in life, like a little play time with the kids, are not really frivolous at all. They are truly the most important things in life.