a Musical Christmas

I just posted some photos from our Jingle Jangle Christmas event to the Delightful Sounds fan page on Facebook. If you would like to see them, click here. It was a great time of families making music together while celebrating a wonderful time of year. What a fantastic opportunity to create memories and learning that will last a lifetime for these children!

There are only a couple of weeks left until the start of the spring semester. You can view the schedule here, if you'd like to join us for a Kindermusik class. We'll be singing and dancing our way into the new year with lots of educational activities and music that is sure to be a hit at your home.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What did you say?

One of the most important skills you can teach your child is the skill of being a good listener. Without this vital skill, your child would find it difficult to develop social skills such as how to carry on a conversation, gain new vocabulary or properly pronounce words, or listen to the directions given in a classroom without being distracted. Music has been found to greatly enhance listening skills in young children.
  • Try going on a sound scavenger hunt with your child. This could be done with everyday sounds or by identifying the instruments in a particular song.
  • Sing silly songs with your child and encourage them to make up new silly words that would rhyme.
  • Encourage your baby to listen by allowing him to watch your face when talking to him. Sing simple songs and mimic his sounds if he tries to "sing" back to you.
  • Sing echo songs together. You can even make them up as you go along.

Friday Free-for-All # 23

Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck - Rockin', Rollin' and Ridin'

Frezza and band power through six new tunes and two remixes on their new EP Rockin', Rollin and Ridin'. From the powerpop of "Rock Like This" to the 5/4 funk rock of "Rocketship," Big Truck's new set of songs is full-on fun. Roscoe Orman (Sesame Street's Gordon) joins in on the movement/call-and-response song "Hey-O," while "Robot Dancer" provides kids with an electrodance workout. Things slow down only for the naptime ballad "Smiling Moon." The CD also comes with a video of "Big Truck."

Music Together - Lullabies

The staff of the Music Together program have produced several CDs of tunes they use in their classes, and Lullabies compiles the quietest of those. From popular standards like "My Bonnie," "Shenandoah," "Brahms' Lullaby," and "All the Pretty Little Horses" to lesser-known gems like "Raisins and Almonds," "Duermete Nino Bonito," "The Water is Wide," and "Shady Grove" the 18 covers and originals on Lullabies will softly soothe your little ones. Comes with a booklet that gives a short history of the songs, along with performance suggestions.

Parent's perspective

What are parents saying about Kindermusik classes? As a parent, I always check to see what other parents think about a class before signing up my children. I recently did a little blog research on the subject, and here's what I found.
"Ava Claire had so much fun wearing pajamas to Kindermusik! She really enjoys going to class each week! I really think it is helping her become even more of a genius! We signed her up for next semester too! Yay! "
Mrs. Odom said, "Kindermusik is a great way to aid in a child's development through music. My twin boys, Bailey and Carter, have been going to classes since they were 3 months old. Their smiles and laughter are evidence of their love of Kindermusik."

Capitol Mommy wrote, "Then I thought about what my favorite days of the week are. They are definitely "girl's days out". The days where B and I get out of the house and go on little adventures. Staying home with B is the most wonderful privilege and gift but some-days it make all the difference just to leave the house for a bit. So this week when we headed out to our weekly Kindermusik class I threw my little camera in the diaper bag so I could capture our day."
Over at Niemeyer Nest, "Evie was so excited to be at Kindermusik. She really likes it! You should check out a class in your area. Evie and I have tried a lot of classes and this is our very favorite. "

Why music?

As a musician, I never questioned my decision to teach my children about music from the day they were born. It was a natural thing for me, and it was also why I began a Kindermusik program at Delightful Sounds nearly seven years ago. Yet, as I have watched them grow and develop, I have come to realize exactly what a gift I gave them by starting so early. They both have a deep love of music. Yet, more than that, music study has shaped their development in other ways-social skills, improved IQ, problem solving/reasoning skills, creativity, language skills, and even physical development. In fact, music is the only thing I can think of that allows children to work on all areas of their development at once. It's been a special gift for me as well, as we share our love of music together!
If you've never tried a "mommy and me" music class with your child, check out www.kindermusik.com to download a free preview coupon.

Hanukkah Music for Kids

Did you know that Hanukkah begins at sundown on Friday, December 11 this year? That's right, the Eight Nights of Light are approaching, so I've compiled a list of great Hanukkah music for kids over at About.com to help celebrate the season, from klezmer to pop, from traditional to silly remakes. Let us know if any other children's artists have released a Hanukkah CD and we'll add it to the list!

Thanksgiving Fun

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving! We had a blast trying to explain football to a three-year-old.

Friday Free-for-All # 22

After a brief respite, we're back with our weekly Friday Free-for-All!

King Pajama - Something Sweet

Brooklyn's Jason Blechman (piano) and Nina Zeitlin (vocals) team up as King Pajama to lay down some loungy jazz tunes tinged with blues, with help from Daniel Gould, Gerard Egan, and Tomas Cataldo on drums and guitar. Think The Brand New Heavies but with more coffee house swing than dance floor groove. Hey, Something Sweet made Jeff's OWTK Top 10 list for 2009!

John Jeffrey Hodges - Kiddy Dittys (A Kids' Album for Adults)

Straight outta Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan comes John Jeffrey Hodges, a musician with a long history of songwriting credits. His first family CD, Kiddy Dittys, will remind you stylistically of Bruce Cockburn or Peter Himmelman, but the thoughtful lyrics are about kids' stuff like bikes, parents (and parenting), imagination, feelings, and family time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Looking for an alternative to a turkey-full Turkey Day? Check out Todd McHatton's "The Happy Vegan Thanksgiving Song."

You might remember Todd from his popliciously psychedelic kids' album Grass Stained Twilight. Well, his Thanksgiving tune, sounding kinda like a Meat Puppets outtake, falls right in line with Twilight's cosmic pop vibe, and boasts a really cool lyric. Dig:

"The Happy Vegan Thanksgiving Song"

Animals gathered round the table / Singin' songs and holdin' hands

This is a decree for all the species / This is a celebration!

Wishing you all a Happy Vegan Thanksgiving

It's a celebration / With bears and birds and turtles and girls and boys and so much more

Celabrating the joy of living / It's what we're all here for

This is a decree for all the species / This is a celebration!

Wishing you all a Happy Vegan Thanksgiving

Please pass the yams! / Please pass the stuffing too / Please pass the garlic mashed potatoes / You say you never ate those? / Oh they're so good too!

Please pass the greens! / Please pass the pearl onions / You gotta try some / Pass some green beans and corn and rolls / Please pass the squash and cranberry sauce

Oh no, I'm already way too full!

Give the gift of Kindermusik this holiday season

Looking for the perfect present this holiday season? Know someone who would be interested in giving a gift that truly “keeps on giving”? As you know, the benefits of Kindermusik not only last a few months or a few years—they last a lifetime.

This year, Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, friends, or anyone, can give your little ones the gift of Kindermusik. I have Kindermusik gift certificates available in any denomination. Gift givers can get in touch with me by email or call (813) 503-6976, and I will provide simple instructions for purchasing a gift certificate to be applied toward Kindermusik tuition and/or home materials at Delightful Sounds. Gift certificates purchased before December 7th are sure to arrive in the mail in plenty of time to find their way under the Christmas tree, into stockings, or get hand delivered with a hug.

Are you wondering if grandparents love giving Kindermusik as a gift? Just check out this video of a Kindermusik grandma who has pledged to sponsor Kindermusik for any of her 17 grandchildren who want it!

The Power of Music

This video really intrigued me. Many people claim that music is a gift for only the "chosen few", yet here is a room full of people who are not musicians producing a cohesive tune based on the body movements of jazz musician Bobby McFerrin. No instruments or music to follow-just expectation. It really shows how instinctual music can be. I use the word instinct, because I believe we are born with this ability. It grows as we experience music throughout our lifetime. Even a new baby will respond to a familiar tune. I hope you enjoy singing along with the video!

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Holiday Events

As the end of the year approaches, we have a lot of fun music events coming up at Delightful Sounds for your families. I wanted to be sure any local blog readers would be able to keep up with them all, so here's a list.

  • November 23 - Online enrollment begins for the Spring 2010 Kindermusik classes. The Spring semester is set to begin on January 4.

  • November 30 - 7:00 PM - Mom's Night Out - Just in time for Christmas, this jewelry making party costs $15 and includes the materials for making three pairs of earrings. Please RSVP to attend.

  • December 4 - 10:00 AM - Military Kindermusik Playdate - This free music event is open to families of active military personnel and takes place at the MacDill Family Resource Center in Brandon.

  • December 21-22 - Jingle Jangle Christmas Event - This annual event will feature an hour of Christmas music, dancing, and fun for the whole family. Day and evening class times are available for this popular event, so be sure to reserve your spot today! Cost is $10 per child.

Planting "Musical" Seeds of Love

Planting Seeds of Love:
Making music with babies and their caregivers.
by Pam Donkin

One of my favorite things to do is to work with babies and their caregivers to help encourage bonding and musical response between them. Babies are never too young for music! After all, most begin hearing, in utero, around the 4th month. The same way they are learning the language of their culture they can also learn music. When surrounded by music they actually begin reacting and trying to make music with you! It can be so much fun for adults to learn how to recognize and encourage that playful exchange, and of course the babies just love it! The babies are fascinated by everything we adults do and when we focus on them and sing, they immediately start either kicking their feet , moving to the rhythm, or they may begin to coo and many times will coo in the key in which you are singing to them! If they do coo or make some other sound the best way to begin a musical conversation is to coo back to them. That encourages them to continue and then you can go back to singing the song which further encourages them to continue the exchange. Cooing is a beautiful, non- verbal way to deepen the relationship and at the same time get the language out of the way. I call it planting seeds of love.

-by Pam Donkin

Pam Donkin is an award-winning songwriter, performer and recording artist on the Gentle Wind label. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area she presents workshops for babies (ages infant to age 12 mo) and their caregivers as well as family music programs ( children's ages 2-8) in the Bay Area and beyond.For further information go to www.pamdonkin.com

Teaching Artists' Organizations

Here's a great resource!



Email list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/associationofteachingartists/
Contact: Dale Davis, Executive Director


San Francisco
Teaching Artists Organized

Newsletter: Send email with "Please Subscribe Me" in subject heading
Contact: tao@teachingartistsorganized.org

Chicago Teaching Artists’ Collective

Email list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/teachingartist/
Contact: chicagoteachingartists@gmail.com

New England Consortium of Artist Educator Professionals

Email list: NECAP-on@mail-list.com
Contact: Frumie Selchen, Director, Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire ArtsAllianceNNH@cs.com

Building critical thinking skills

I heard a great story yesterday about one of our preschool Kindermusik students. Her mother had asked her what she wanted to dress up as for Halloween. "I want to be an green alien with antennas!" Puzzled by this unusual response, her mother inquired, "Don't you want to be a princess, like all the other girls?" The child's confident response was, "But I'm NOT all the other girls!"

I loved this story! I think it speaks of the creativity, individuality, and confidence that we try to nurture and grow in our Kindermusik classrooms. You may be working on academic facts with your child, but equally important are the creativity and critical thinking skills that will go beyond just academic facts. You can help your child with these types of skills by allowing them to guide your play time or explorations. Ask leading questions, such as, "What do you think will happen next?" or "How do you think that object would look if it could move?". Have fun with these types of questions. There really is no right or wrong answer. As your child grows more confident with this type of thinking, they will easily be able to apply it to more critical thought processes in the future. Whether it be in the area of music, pretend play, calculus, or Halloween costumes, don't miss the chance to encourage your child's creativity.

Free Kindermusik Semester!

I just heard about a fun contest being offered by Kindermusik International. They are putting together a music video of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and they are collecting videos of children, adults, grandparents, friends, etc. doing the motions to the Itsy Bitsy Spider. You can load your entries on YouTube. Kindermusik will then use various clips from the entries in their video. All of the entries will be included in a raffle for a FREE semester of Kindermusik classes, including your home materials packet for your child's music class. This contest is open to all families and the prize can be transferable, such as giving it to grandchild or friend. Click here for all the information on how to enter. You can watch the videos that have already been posted on You Tube by clicking here.

the fun theory

Have you ever noticed how much better children cooperate when it's fun? We make game out of getting dressed, or sing silly songs to get a fussy baby to smile. In our Kindermusik classes, learning is always fun! So, I've decided that if we ever add stairs to the classroom, they will look like this!

Name that tune

Where in the world in Mrs. Aimee? If we lived closer to this apple farm, we would have to plan a field trip for the children in our music classes at Delightful Sounds. Can you guess the Kindermusik songs that would go with this picture? I can think of a couple! Be sure to post your guesses as a comment.

The Leader of the Band!

Congratulations to Jake, our winner of the Leader of the Band contest! It was a tight race, but Jake squeaked out a victory earning his family a gift certificate for 50% off the tuition of his next Kindermusik class. Second place went to Bennett, seen below. Bennett's prize will be a Kindermusik prize pack, including a CD, egg shaker, story book, and other toys.

Congratulations, again, to Jake and Bennett. I think they look like the beginnings of a great band! Thank you to everyone who helped make the Leader of the Band contest so fun!!

Seven surprises just for you!

I was reading an article recently about seven benefits of music education. I found it interesting, because it was not talking specifically about private music study or school age children. As a matter of fact, I see these same benefits every week in my Kindermusik classroom, even when it's full of little babies! Music education enhances a child's intelligence, academic success, social skills, and even physical fitness. Here are the seven surprising benefits of music education:

  1. Music boosts brain power.

  2. Music leads to literacy skills.

  3. Music adds to a child's understanding of math.

  4. Music helps children live in harmony with others.

  5. Music is active.

  6. Singing helps children stay strong.

  7. Music supports self-expression.

I hope you'll take a minute to read the full article here.

Leader of the Band contest

It's time to start voting for your favorite picture in the Leader of the Band contest. Since all of the contestants turned out to be local, I will give the winner a gift certificate good for 50% off their tuition for a future Kindermusik class. There will also be other music prizes and goodies awarded. Here's how to cast your vote:

  1. Visit the Delightful Sounds page on Facebook.

  2. Look through the photo album titled "Leader of the Band Contest".

  3. Add "vote" as a comment under your favorite photo.

  4. While you're there, make sure to become a fan! It's a great way to keep up with what's going on at Delightful Sounds.

Good luck to all of the contestants! Make sure to tell your friends and family to visit and vote too!

The Musical Dilemma

Help! I have a child who loves music, but my husband and I are not musical! What should I do?

As a music instructor, I hear this scenario a lot! Should we start private music lessons? At what age should a child begin music study? How can I encourage my child's musical interests?

First, kudos for taking that first step. It's likely that you recognized your child's musical tendencies through interacting with them musically. Whether it's listening to music together, dancing to a favorite song, or joining in an impromptu family jam with the pots and spoons, you are probably already doing a lot to encourage your child's musical interest.

Children are typically drawn to music from an early age, but that doesn't mean you should sign up for those private lessons just yet. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as your child's interest in music grows.

  • If your child is young, join a group music class for young children, such as Kindermusik. The age appropriate musical activities will assist your child in understanding musical concepts like fast/slow or loud/soft, laying a solid foundation for future music study.

  • Your child is never to young to enjoy exploring music with you. Get started today!

  • Take every opportunity to introduce your child to a wide variety of musical styles. The variety of rhythms and instruments will increase their overall love of music as well as strengthen their cognitive skills.

  • Actively participate in your child's musical explorations. A parent's participation says more than you could imagine when encouraging a child's musical interests.

  • 6-8 years old is a great time to begin private music study, such as guitar or piano. Don't be afraid to ask the potential teacher about their credentials and knowledge of working with young children.

Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack

A great soundtrack to what should be a great movie...check out this full review of the Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack.

Oh, and you can stream the entire album over at imeem.com.

New Addition to 'Halloween Songs for Kids' List

Here's another album of Halloween songs for kids to add to your collection, and boy, is it a good one. Think Goosebumps, Lemony Snicket, or Alvin Schwartz' Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark series, 'cept in musical form...check it out over at About.com.

The Circular Nature of Life

This was cool: recently we had lunch at a pub in the college town where we now live. My friends and I used to play awesome music in the most ridiculous manner imaginable at this very place, and lots of fun was had by all. On this day, my son and I took the stage in front of an imaginary, screaming crowd, and sang "My Bonnie," "You Are My Sunshine," and "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" into a kick drum mic. Rock and Roll.

Leader of the Band

Have you got a child who loves music? Do you have some great pictures of your child singing, dancing, or playing musical instruments? Here's your chance to show them off! We are having a "Leader of the Band" photo contest at Delightful Sounds. The contest is open to all families, not just Kindermusik families or families from the Delightful Sounds studio. To enter, email a picture of your child engaged in a musical activity. Please include your child's first name, birth date, and your contact information in the email. (We'll need a way to let you know, if you win!)Your pictures must be received by October 4th. All entries will be then be uploaded to a photo album on the Delightful Sounds fan page on Facebook. You will be able to vote for your favorite photos at our fan page during the week of October 5th. The winners will be announced on October 12th, so get those cameras flashing!

New Video from Rebecca Frezza

Here's a new video from Rebecca Frezza and Big Truck called, appropriately, "Big Truck," in which the band ride around in, yep, a big truck! This cool little rock&roll tune for kids would be perfect for, say, Sesame Street, and appears on the band's new album Rockin', Rollin' and Ridin'.

Rebecca Frezza - "Big Truck"

My Morning Jacket Dude Takes on Harrison

Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and lately of Monsters of Folk, recorded a handful of George Harrison covers several years ago, and just got around to releasing them. This sparse, kinda echo-y collection only has six songs on it, and four are from All Things Must Pass, but it's interesting, nonetheless. And hey, it's only $.99! Dig it...

Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language has become very popular in the last several years as a means of communication between parents and their very young children. It's a great way to encourage early communication for children who are not old enough to communicate verbally. Baby sign language can also ease frustration between parents and children as they attempt to communicate their needs and wants.

Some parents are concerned that this form of early communication might delay their child's verbal development. However, the opposite is typically true. The combined experience of movement and spoken language encourages the child's understanding of the word, as well as increases retention of the new word. This is because the child is engaged actively in the learning experience, and the movement has stimulated the brain to receive the incoming information.

Parents can begin to work on baby sign language as early as 3-6 months, and children will typically begin to sign back around 6-12 months old. However, it's not too late if your child is past that age. Sign language can be a fun way to communicate for children of all ages. I recommend taking a sign language class, such as Sign and Sing, with your child to learn how to present the signs in an interactive, age appropriate, and fun way. A sign language class will also help you to understand your child's hand development. If a sign is too difficult for them to form, your child will likely make adjustments to the sign. Once you learn what to look for, you may be surprised to find your child has several signs they are already using.

Wishy Washy Wee!

With so many germs around this year, it's very important for our children to regularly and thoroughly wash their hands. If your child is very young, that can be a real challenge. Young children tend to rinse the soap right off without rubbing it in. Music is such a great tool when teaching your child, so why not use a song to help your child learn to wait.

A great example would be "Wishy Washy Wee". We've been singing this folk song a lot in our toddler music classes. If you don't know the tune, feel free to simply chant the rhyme. We especially enjoy scrubbing on the "wishy washy" part, and then throwing our hands in the air for "WEE"! OK, so it's gets a little messy on that part, but getting clean was never so much fun!

The words are as follows:

We are two sailors come from o'er the seas

If you want to go away again,

then come along with me.

Wishy, washy, wishy washy, wishy washy, WEE!

If you want to go away again,

then come along with me.

Boo! Cool Halloween Songs for Kids

Sure, lots of performers have a Halloween song or two on their CDs, but I was looking for albums of nothing but spooky, silly tunes for the holiday. After searching around for full albums of Halloween songs for kids, I found a few awesome choices. Check 'em out over at About.com...

Oh, and stay tuned, there are a couple more Halloween CDs that sound great that I'll post veeeery soon...

Educator Workshops

Did you know that many children's performers offer educator workshops? Well, they do! Many of the artists listed on this Blog are not only performers, but experts in the field of music education. Do you need an in-service, on-site training, workshop or a keynote at an educator conference? Look no further. Children's performers are often bilingual in entertainment and education!

Take this, brother, may it serve you well...

In celebration of this Number 9 Day, check out the Top 10 Beatles Lullaby Albums, as well as the Best Beatles Sing-Alongs from their newly-refurbished catalog.

Today's Agenda

Here we are at the start of another school year and Kindermusik semester. As we are all scrambling to get back to our school routine, I was reminded of just how important that routine is for us. In the Kindermusik classroom, you and your child will find a routine to the activities.

  • It gives us an understanding of what needs to be accomplished for the day.

  • It helps us to know what to expect next.

  • It keeps me organized, so I don't get stressed out.

  • I have greater security that things will get done on time.

If a routine is important for us in these ways, think how important it is for your children. The life of a child is often outside of their control. For example, they are told the proper things to eat, when to get a bath, and what clothes are appropriate for certain outings. Having a routine will help your child to feel more secure, by letting them know what to expect and when to expect it. In the Kindermusik classroom, we practice this same principle. Perhaps you'll notice that rocking time is always followed by story time, or a "clean up" song is always used when an music activity is over. You can incorporate these same types of routines into your own daily life at home. Maybe you use a favorite song to move from one activity to the next, or you might always follow bath time with a soothing massage and story before your child goes to bed. If your current routine isn't working for you, consider making some changes. You can visit a Kindermusik class for lots a great ideas. We'll be learning lots of songs this semester that would fit into a variety of routines and situations. Remember that a routine helps the whole family to be healthy and happy! I hope you'll share some of your favorite ideas as a comment below!

Happy Labor Day!

Since this holiday was originated by America's labor movement in the late 1800's, let's commemorate the date with a review of Ella Jenkins and a Union of Friends Pulling Together. This 1999 Smithsonian Folkways album, nominated for the 2000 GRAMMY Award for Best Musical Album for Children, is one of the best, if not only, true "concept albums" for kids.

Jenkins skillfully weaves songs, spoken word pieces, and call and response tunes about labor unions into an overall theme of togetherness, including songs about family, friends, and our nation. Kids will recognize favorites like "The More We Work Together," "If I Had a Hammer," and "Skip to My Lou," while historically significant songs like "Solidarity Forever," "Which Side Are You On?" and the powerful "Keep Your Hands on the Plow" are great discussion starters for families and schools. And compare this album's version of the Populist song "The Farmer is the Man" with the more rockin' version on Dog On Fleas' Cranberry Sauce Flotilla.

Check out this great collection of historical singalongs, perfect for both the classroom and the living room.

***Phil Rosenthal***

Phil Rosenthal, along with wife Beth, daughter Naomi, and son Daniel, created a great collection of old-time music, classic folk songs, traditional tunes, songwriter favorites, and Rosenthal originals for his 1995 album, The Green Grass Grew All Around. The project was produced and engineered expertly by Rosenthal, giving the songs a warm and inviting sound, neither overdone nor underdone.

Rosenthal takes care of most of the instrumentation himself, with a little help from his family. Also pitching in musically are Kate O’Brien on violin, Stacey Phillips on dobro, Walter Wakeman on harmonica, and Jeff and Synia McQuillan on percussion and harmony vocals.

On The Green Grass Grew All Around, Rosenthal performs traditional tunes like the story song “Frog Went A-Courtin’,” the call-and-response “What’ll I Do with the Baby-O?” the swaying shanty “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” and the nursery rhyme-like “I Had a Little Nut Tree.” On the original LP, Side 1 came to a rousing end with the cumulative folk favorite “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” and Side 2 finished up with the equally upbeat “Hey Lolly.”

Other highlights include Woody Guthrie’s nonsense song “Jig Along Home,” a simple banjo/vocals version of Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna,” and Lydia Maria Child’s Thanksgiving classic “Over the River and Through the Wood.” Rosenthal also performed several original songs like “Neighbors,” a throwback to the call-to-unity vibe of the ‘70s; the cheerful “Sleepy Eyes,” which encourages the listener to wake up and see what the new day will bring; and the warm and cozy “The Train Song.”

Fans of Dan Zanes, The Dreyer Family Band, or folk songs in general will really dig this easy-to-sing-along-with classic from Phil Rosenthal and Family, originally released on, and still available from, Rosenthal's own American Melody Records label.

Drum Practice

All right, guys. Start off with "Black Dog," then "Rock and Roll," and finish up with "Misty Mountain Hop."

***Laura Doherty***

Dig this new CD from Laura Doherty, the Early Childhood Music Program Director at Chicago's famed Old Town School of Folk Music. Kids in the City is full of breezy urban folk tunes featuring the Natalie Merchant-like vibe of Doherty's vocals. She had musical help from Scott Besaw on drums, Amalie Smith on upright bass, Rob Newhouse on lead guitar, Susan Marques on banjo, Barb Burlingame on trumpet, Skip Landt on harmonica, and Rick Rankin on percussion and melodica, who also produced, recorded, and mixed Kids in the City.

Doherty's album is a musical tribute of sorts to The Windy City: elevators and escalators, the zoo, public transportation, the farmer’s market, traffic, and hot dog stands all get a shout out on Kids in the City. "I Spy" references Lake Michigan and taxis, "Hot Dog" celebrates sport peppers and celery salt, the a cappella "Wheels in the City" catalogs things that roll around big city sidewalks, and "El Train" is a self-explanatory tune about Chicago's famous clickety clackin' mode of transportation.

Kids in the City is full of the sights and sounds of preschoolers' lives: "I Spy" explores the colors all around us, "Farmer's Market," with its simple vocals and banjo arrangement, has fun with names of fruits and vegetables, while "Rockin' at the Zoo" catalogs the animals you might see and hear there. And check out the wonderful melodies of "Hello Hippopotamus," "I Spy," and "Kitty Cat" (which is vaguely reminiscent of The Chordettes' "Lollipop").

Doherty's album contains a couple of future kids' classics, too. "Uncle Ukulele's Band" has instruments represent members of the family, and sounds as if it could have been featured on The Muppet Show, while the very Ella Jenkins-like “Wheels in the City” is a call-and-response, a cappella tune, with overlapping melodies and vocal lines.

And Kids in the City includes two covers I’ve never heard on a children’s album before: a quiet and tender rendition of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” and a chooglin’ version of Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago."

Laura Doherty's Kids in the City is a great example of modern urban folk. Now I gotta go get a Chicago dog and a chocolate malt.


Oh, hi! Haven't seen you in a while. We've been goin' through some big ol' life changes, and I haven't had time to post any reviews of rockin' new music lately.

Basically, my wife and I and our 3-year-old son moved back to my home state, where I'm getting my PhD in Human Development and Family Studies. There were several factors that influenced our decision, one of them being that we wanted to see if the MUCH slower pace of life in southeast Alabama appealed to us after living across the Hudson from Manhattan for eight years.

So far, things are good. We've done stuff like:

Look at turtles in a pond,

hang out on campus,

and take time to stop and smell, well, whatever flowering vine this is...

New reviews are coming very soon, as well as reports on Bill's No Nap Happy Hour series, Austin Kiddie Limits, and next year's SXSW Music Festival and the Kindiefest Conference. Stay tuned!