The Hipwaders Take You Underwater

The new video from The Hipwaders finds Rat the Cat far beneath the ocean's surface...I'd love to hear this song covered by The Flaming Lips!

The Hipwaders - "Cat In a Bathysphere"

New video from Caspar Babypants!

Here's Chris Ballew's (Caspar Babypants) latest video from his kids' album debut Here I Am!:

Caspar Babypants - "Monkey River"

What's in your child's playlist?

Diane's most recent post got me thinking about the importance of a variety musical experiences for our young children. It is believed that children begin to form their earliest musical preferences while still in the womb. This will continue through the early childhood years and will form a foundation for their later musical interests and experiences. The greater their exposure to a variety of musical styles and cultures, the greater their love and appreciation for music as a whole. You should think of it as laying a broad musical foundation for them to build on in the future. My concern is that so many parents buy only the Wiggles or other children's CD for their children. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with any of these CDs, but if that is all that you are exposing your children to musically, then their musical foundation will be very narrow. I would encourage you to listen to a wide variety of styles and rhythms with your children, such as classical, world music, and even R&B, country or Rock songs. (with appropriate lyrics of course) The variety of rhythms and pitch contrast will also promote cognitive development in your child. The greater the variety, the broader the musical foundation and development your child will be able to build on throughout their life.


With only his overdubbed acoustic guitars, some light percussion, a little bass guitar, and lots of harmonies, Dano (aka Dan Scot Parr) creates his self-titled kids' debut, an album full of catchy, quiet, melodic, funny tunes about space men, cats, dreams, and the lost city of Atlantis.

Dan Parr is a teacher, musician, and songwriter from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area who released two CDs in the past for grownups, 2002's It Seems, and 2004's Dan Scot Parr, and then decided to give the kids' music route a try. Dano boats 13 tracks of acoustic Americana for families, plus cover art by Jeffrey Miranda that's a little reminiscent of Jose Feliciano's 1968 album Feliciano!

The obvious "hit single" on Dano is "Groovy Spacemen," a wistful pop tune about singing, dancing intergalactic visitors. Check out the ingenious wordplay of "The Animal Cliche Song," and the inevitable sing-along classic "Ugly Toes." Parr's melodic sense is particularly evident on the tuneful coda of the dream saga "Weird Purple Birds," and on the scat breakdown of "Big Daddio." And just right for quiet time are the laid-back grooves of "The Islands," the little bit McCartney-little bit Nilsson-inspired "Back Porch Symphony," and the lullaby "Lovely Dreams."

If you like the breezy pop of The Terrible Twos, you'll dig Dan Parr's children's music debut, Dano. And if you're in the east Texas area, try to check out Parr's intriguingly titled children's program, "Tall Tales, Silly Stories and Memorable Melodies: Using Songs to Teach Life's Lessons."

Need a hint?

Ok, so I'm told that my blog readers need a hint about the latest What in the World challenge. Yes, I know the Facebook readers already guessed it, but you had a hint a Sandra pointed out. So here is a photo of the same item in a different angle. Good luck!

And the Hits Just Keep On Comin'...

Stop with the awesome Readeez tunes already, Michael Rachap! I'm gettin' jealous!

Michael Rachap's READEEZ - "Little Song"

Children's Music Dilemma

I'm supposed to be writing this from a parent's point of view, so parents out there, let me ask you:

What music did you listen to as a teen-ager?

What music did you listen to after your first child was born?

What music do you listen to now?

How do those answers compare for you? 

For me, they're all vastly different.

Since my eldest daughter was born, there have been weeks--months, even--when I thought I would never again listen to anything but Kindermusik's "Zoo Train" (everyone sing hooray hooray we're going to the zoo today!). Or Veggie Tales "Silly Songs with Larry" (Saaaa-buuuuuu!). Or the Wiggles ("Hey there, shaky shaky!). 

I mean, I couldn't very well let the three-year-old listen to "Shake That Body" (especially after daddy saw her shaking her bottom in the pool while singing the refrain over and over and over and over again and nearly had a heart attack as he bellowed, "STOP SHAKING THAT BODY!") And there is not a single song on a Meatloaf album that does not raise . . . unwanted . . . preschooler questions: "What does he mean that he can see paradise by the dashboard light? Is he talking about heaven? Is he dying and going to see Jesus?" 

So what's a mom to do? If we listen to iTunes, evidently we're supposed to sit around and listen to music that will make us cry. I was downloading some songs the other day, and Genius, iTunes music-suggestion device, told me that I might like to download an entire playlist they call "Soccer Mom Chillout." I am not kidding when I tell you that there was not a single happy, upbeat song on that entire playlist. Granted, I like "Broken" by Lifehouse. I also like "The Riddle" by Five For Fighting. And "100 Years" is very moving. But if I downloaded that entire playlist and put it on in my van, I'd be a weeping puddle in thirty seconds. 

I mean, really, can you even read "Broken"'s lyrics without getting teary? "I'm falling apart/I'm barely breathing/With a broken heart/That's still beating/In the pain/There is healing/In your name/I find meaning."

How about "The Riddle?":   "Dad I'm big but we're smaller than small/In the scheme of things, well we're nothing at all/Still every mother's child sings a lonely song/So play with me, come play with me/And Hey Dad/Here's a riddle for you/Find the Answer/There's a reason for the world/You and I..."

There has to be a happy medium between the soundtrack of our children's lives and the soundtrack that iTunes proposes for us. Sure, it's nice to have a cathartic weep-fest sometimes. Mine is much more composed than my toddler's. But sometimes I want to dance (my high school soundtrack was, after all, Dirty Dancng). Sometimes I want to be angry (I often miss blasting Melissa Etheridge and Alanis Morissette). Sometimes I want to, oh, I don't know--twist and shout! Well, there's an idea. The Beatles are innocent enough. Hmmm . . . 

I guess the whole point of this post is to ask at what point parents get to reclaim, or reinstate, or revisit, our own musical lives without letting that music set a poor example for or badly influence our children. I'm a parent who values music for my child's development, but I do so because throughout my life I have always treasured music's ability to allow me to explore and develop my emotional life. And finding a balance between the kids' music and my own is a new challenge for me as I strive to discover who I am now that the babies are preschoolers who don't always want to sit still for lullabies, who don't want to play dancing games on the playroom floor, and who are "so totally over" the Wiggles. I see Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers lurking in the wings, and if I have to listen to them then I am SO going to have to introduce the kids to Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks. It seems only fair. 

Because the Kids Know Where It's At

Y'know, part of the thrill of introducing kids to music is showing them how fun and exciting and powerful it is to play live. Dig this 1977 performance of "In the City" by The Jam on "So It Goes," hosted by Tony Wilson. Then try and keep your young ones from picking up their Rickenbackers and rockin' out.

The Jam - "In the City"

Spring's New Beginning

My husband and I decided to take an overnight hike to celebrate Valentine's Day this year. We walked mile after mile under the watchful eye of tall, straight pines and gnarled old grandfather oaks. On we went through the wetlands with their knobby-kneed cypress trees standing quiet and mysterious. It was filled with a solitude that can only be found in a place like that and often the only sound heard was the steady crunching of dead leaves under our boots.

As I walked along, I began to notice tiny little buds beginning to sprout on many of the trees. Springtime is coming, a time for new beginnings. Last year was filled with many challenges and hardships. February marks the one year anniversary of my uncle's death. He was the first in a string of family deaths that we faced last year. Each one harder to face than the one before. Follow that up with an extended illness for myself and a list of other challenges, and I was finding it harder and harder to keep picking myself up off the ground.

My thoughts turned back to the springtime growth. There, amidst all of the dead barrenness of winter, fresh life had begun anew. Looking back over the last year, I can honestly say that though my sorrows were many, my blessings outweighed them all. God and my family have faithfully stood with me through it all. I wish I could say that I left all of my trouble and sadness somewhere in the middle of that vast, quiet wood. I didn't, but I did bring some extra things back out with me. For somewhere in the freshness of the springtime buds I found greater wisdom, renewed confidence, and a resolute hope that with springtime's new beginning will come many treasured moments, whether happy or sad. I considered not sharing this post. In the end, I decided to only because I know so many more of you who have faced your own hardships recently. I hope that my thoughts bring you peace and hope.

***Betsy Stern***

Minimalist kids' music at its best! Betsy Stern, a Berkeley, California native, uses her voice and one instrument per song to create a collection of jazzy, earthy, quiet tunes for the whole family.

On her debut children's album, Foyo, Stern plays acoustic guitar, upright bass, and requinto guitar (a smaller-scale guitar), to make "world music" in the most global sense possible: Foyo features songs from France, Spain, Australia, and Haiti, as well as traditional American Folk tunes, all performed in Stern's unique style.

Foyo includes familiar kiddie songs like "Fooba Wooba John" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep," as well as traditional classics like "Crawdad Song," "Mouse on the Hill," and "Cindy." But you haven't heard "This Old Man" until you hear it performed with only vocals and an upright bass.

Check out Stern's stellar fretwork on the title tune, a patois French song from Haiti. The tune was also included on the soundtrack of the 1962 South African musical Wait a Minim! Other standouts are Will D. Cobb and Ren Shields' 1906 dancehall ditty "Waltz Me Around Again Willie;" "Jamaica Farewell," made famous by Harry Belafonte on his 1956 album Calypso; the French folk tune "Câdet Rousselle;" and a couple of classics from Down Under, "Kookabura" and "Waltzing Matilda."

Betsy Stern's Foyo is a great introduction to obscure gems and unique reworkings of familiar tunes. Quality music for young and old alike.

Great Dates for Booking Children's Performers

Need a reason to celebrate? Here are some great dates to book children's performers at your venue:

Read Across America Day is March 2, 2009; the event is always held on or near Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

Celebration of the Young Child is April 20-24, 2009

Children’s Book Week is May 11-17, 2009

Call a children's performer today to add a little more fun to the party!

Kids, Kids everywhere!

Here are some of the new babies born on our farm in the last 24 hours. Pictured on top are Misty and Ian and on the bottom are Cupid and Love.

Happy Valentine's Day from The Hipwaders!

Here's a new video from The Hipwaders, just in time for Valentine's Day. The song is called, astonishingly enough, "Valentine," and come from The Hipwaders' self-titled debut album. The video was created by Thomas Ferrick of Tronix Productions.

The Hipwaders - "Valentine"

One hundred billion

I never cease to be amazed when I study about how our bodies work. I recently read that our brains contain one hundred billion neurons. I had read this before, but what captured my imagination was the perspective the writer put on this. "Suppose each neuron was one dollar, and you stood on a street corner trying to give dollars away to people as they passed by, as fast as you could hand them out- let's say one dollar per second. If you did this twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year, without stopping, and if you had started on the day that Jesus was born, you would by the present day only have gone through about two thirds of your money."

When you consider that each of these neurons can then connect to other neurons in an extreme variety of ways, well that's an impressive amount of potential. What's even more amazing to me is that our children have a greater amount of connections that we do, because they are still gleaning so much new information. So don't miss out on those early opportunities to increase their cognitive skills by offering a broad variety of activities and stimuli.

Excerpt from This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin

Celebrate Fab-ruary with Beatles Music for Kids!

In honor of the 45th anniversary of The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, I've compiled two lists of Fab Four music over at to share with your little ones. You can doze to the Top 10 Beatles Lullaby Albums, then Sing Along with The Beatles to your heart's content. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Rock-N-Roll Babies

If you follow this blog, then you will likely know that I have been doing some reading lately on how music affects the brain. Recently, a study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It discussed the newborn brain in relationship to music. I am pasting an interesting excerpt below. You can read the whole article here.

Newborns can't exactly swing their hips to prove they can jive, so Winkler and his colleague Henkjan Honing of the University of Amsterdam monitored the brains of 14 infants listening to variations of a rock rhythm — complete with drum, snare and high hat cymbal.
When "metrically-unimportant portions" of the beat were silenced, nothing much changed among the auditory-related activity in the brain, Honing said. But when the rhythm was disturbed, particularly by omitting the downbeat, the infant brain responded with an error signal: An expectation for a rhythmic pattern was not met.
"A baby's auditory system is working the same way as an adult's, in that it is always making predictions," Winkler said. If the prediction is incorrect, an error signal helps gauge "how much you are off the actual target," he said.

The study went on to state the infants as young as 5 months were able to distinguish rhythmic input. What a great opportunity to interact and bond with your young child! It's just one more reason that Kindermusik is the single best choice for enhancing your child's development.

***Steven Courtney Band***

The third in this week's series of Americana albums for kids, Steven Courtney's Rolling Home is a rootsy mix of influences like Jerry Garcia, mid-70s Bob Dylan, Dan Zanes, and Wilco. This Pennsylvania-based musician has been making music for many years, and Rolling Home is his second CD made specifically for kids.

The band includes Mike McElravy on dobro, acoustic, and steel guitar; Frank Portaro on upright bass, electric bass, and trumpet; Alden Hoke on banjo, fiddle, and electric piano; Doug Walton on acoustic guitar, 6-string banjo, and mandolin; and Steven himself on guitar, percussion, lead vocals, and lots of other stuff, with the whole band lending a hand on backup vocals.

Check out the blues rock of "Strange Old Cat" and "Little Rocking Band;" the super singalong "Big Boatload of Bananas;" and the Americana folk rock of "Happy Anniversary," "Hey Mockingbird!" and "Rolling Home." But it's not all rambunctious rock and roll on Rolling Home: the introspective "Walk with the Wise," the lullaby "Mister Rabbit," and the spooky "Scarecrow" slow down the pace a little. The swaying shanty "Sail Away Lady, Sail Away," the word-filled "Elmer's Electric Tricycle," and the silly "Three Monkey Pirates" round out the album.

Even though Rolling Home is classified as a "kids'" album, it's actually a great CD for the whole family, as is Courtney's other children's album, "Monkey Business as Usual." In fact, most of his music can be enjoyed by listeners of all ages, including the old-school gospel folk rock CD Hootenanny in the Sky, and the Americana country rock albums Momma's Homemade Soup and 25 Cent Songs.

My Fabulous Award

THANK YOU Sally for this award. I have been instructed to list five things I'm addicted to and five blogs I love. So, my five favorite blogs would be:
1. Mom's Ministry and More -Heidi lives overseas and is an old friend of mine. I love her sense of humor and insightfulness about life as a mom in a foreign land.
2. My Pocket Full of Sunshine -Maria is a former Kindermusik student. She became an entrepenuer last year with the start of My Pocket Full of Sunshine.
3. Wombats in the Belfry - I love following along with what's going on in Sally's life. Seems there is never a dull moment.
4. Kindermusik of Cambridge- 5. Half Notes I picked the last two because they are both blogs of fellow Kindermusik educators. I love their ideas about music, development, and children.
Now for the five addictions. Hmmmmmm.....
1. My family
3. Music
4. Hugs and Kisses
5. Laughter

***Matthew Clough & The Cloud Nines***

Another great kids' Americana album! Matthew Clough is a special education teacher based in northern California, who just happens to be involved in the west coast Country Rock scene. On Clough's debut children's CD, he enlists the talents of Butch Boswell (Virgil Cane, The Mother Hips) on string instruments, Mark Folkrod (Virgil Cane) on drums, and Sam Sharp (Joose) on bass. Together they're known as Matthew Clough and The Cloud Nines, and on The Sky's The Limit they turn in a rootsy, rustic, rockin' bunch of songs for kids and their families.

Standout tunes include the Byrds-y "Sing a Song Silly," the shufflin' "Cuckoo Crush," the country funk of the Band-like "Copy Cat," and the sentimental "Happy Father's Day," a tune that Gram Parsons might've sung. And check out the Shel Silverstein-influenced cautionary tale "Flickering Monster," the ringing "Guess I'll Move to the Moon," the sleepy dobro guitar of "What Do Clouds Dream About," and the pedal steel-painted "Digging Daisy."

Here's the cool thing: Clough is using the attention and exposure gained from live performances and album sales to promote causes close to his heart, like Ability First Sports Camp, Sustainable Haiti, and Champ Camp. Music does, indeed, change the world.

***Mo Phillips***

I'm diggin' the lo-fi movement goin' on in Kids' Music right now: Kimya Dawson's Alphabutt, String Bean Jones' Live from the Bathtub, Mr. David's Jump in the Jumpy House, and now Mo Phillips' Train Beard. Now, lo-fi doesn't mean low quality, as evidenced by the great material and performances on all the above CDs. It just means presenting songs from a different angle, thinking outside the musical box, so to speak. And who better to spring this "experimental" approach on than kids, the most open-minded and receptive audience to all things different, sublime, weird, magical, and ridiculous.

Mo Phillips is a musician based in Portland, OR, who has released a couple of Americana/Neil Young-like albums for grownups (The Boat, 2004; Homemade, 2006), and Train Beard follows his stylistic leanings, except with kid subjects and lyrics this time 'round. Guitars, harmonica, organ, and the occasional bongo provide the majority of the instrumentation on Train Beard, supplemented by Phillips' down-to-earth vocals.

"Supa Dupa Race Car" sounds like Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show singing one of those songs Shel Silverstein used to give them; and "I Ain't Gonna Clean My Room" is exactly the kind of poem Silverstein loved to write, as a kid's excessively messy room starts to rebel against him. The title tune is, or should become, a bona fide folk classic: a train travels from head to foot in this a cappella song, sounding like a long-lost Appalachian field holler.

The guitar/organ nonsense song "Cat and Dog" boats lines like "D-O-G dog riding on a bike / B-I-K-E bikin' through the night," while "Change Like a Cloud" uses organ, guitar, and fuzz bass to convey a sense of dreamy imagination. "Leche" is a short nonsense song en Espanol, and "My Ninja Move" battles bedtime fears via a Dave Matthews-like tune.

Other standouts include the playful folk song "Best Friends" and the silly beat poem "The Garbage Man." The only tune that features heavy percussion is "Pizza in a Cup," a drum machine-driven song about a very specific way of serving a slice. That tune then fades into a live performance of the same song, which closes out the album.

Great kids' debut from a unique talent. Check out Train Beard and encourage Mo to keep up the good work!