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When I'm Five...I'm Gonna Rock!

Live music is where it's at, and if you're able to drop by a Not-Its concert, your toddler's gonna get the rock and roll bug, for sure.

The Not-Its - "When I'm Five"

***Billy Kelly***

Billy Kelly and The Blah Blah Blahs (Bruce W. Derr, guitar; Bob Albin, bass; Jake Kline, drums; and Billy Kelly, everything else) present a super set of indie rock songs for kids on their debut CD Thank You For Joining the Happy Club. Their musical mix will remind you of Jonathan Richman, They Might Be Giants, R.E.M., and Wilco, and those influences perfectly compliment the band's breezy, slyly humorous tunes.

The extremely literal "This Is the First Song" is the funniest deconstruction of song structure you'll ever hear, while the title tune is a superb pop song about universal inclusion. Dig the cosmic kid logic of yet another awesome pop composition, "I Can't Get Away From Myself," as well as an ode to the soothing, exhilarating powers of the "Mindless Pop Song." And a cover of Talking Heads' "Don't Worry About the Government" isn't something you'd expect to hear on a kids' record, but it fits in perfectly with the other tunes on Thank You.

Super duper children's music debut from Billy Kelly and gang. More, please!

**Dreyer Family Band***

Even reviewers have favorite bands, and Dog On Fleas are definitely one of my faves. One reason is because of their uniqueness: very few bands, even grownup bands, draw from such an eclectic grab bag of influences to develop their sound. Well, I think they've met their match ... dig Family Photograph by the Dreyer Family Band.

Two families from opposite coasts combined to make an album "not FOR kids, but includes them ... from the perspective of all family members." And, I must say, they successfuly achieved their goal. Parents will amen the lyrics of "You Get What You Get," a song that sounds like Dr. John playing on The Muppet Show; "How To Be Happy" could be a companion to It's A Beautiful Day's "White Bird;" "Photograph" sounds like one of those great tunes Richard Manuel used to write for The Band; and "Imagination" is just a great pop song about the awesome power of a kid's mind.

Earthy, funny, sincere, silly, knowing, and musically right on, the tunes on Family Photograph'll find an audience with at least one, and probably every, member of your own family.

Are you in the musical minority?

I was reading an article from the Herald Sun today. It discussed the use of musical DVDs to entertain children rather than CDs or live music making. Being a music teacher, I was intrigued. Dr. Peter de Vries' surveyed 63 parents of preschoolers under age five and found that 65% of parents played music to their children once a week, but only 29% regularly sang to their kids. "Singing with a young child allows for spontaneous vocal play, movement and drama that are not always possible with music CDs and DVDs. Some products with a visual component are non-interactive . . . and detract from musical events. These products can constrain spontaneous musical play . . . and parents need to be aware of their detrimental effects on young children's musical development."

I regularly talk about the value of family music making in my Kindermusik classes and feel that many of the families I teach regularly use music in their daily lives to interact. Therefore, seeing a figure like 29% is a bit disappointing to me. I mean, really, 29%!?! I would like to think that this static has to be incorrect. Are 71% of us really plopping our kids down in front of DVDs but never interacting musically with our kids? Are we actually not singing lullabies to them each night or skipping the old "pots and pans serenade" while you cook a meal? Adding music to your routine can be a great way to relieve stress, for you as well as your children; increase your child's development in every way; and draw your family closer as you learn to appreciate a beautiful world of music together. So let me here from you. Are we really a minority? What are some ways that you have incorporated music into your daily routine? Do you have a favorite family song or activity?

For more ideas on bringing musical fun and development to your house, visit to find a class near you and download a free preview coupon.

"Three Pigs and a Wolf"

Here's the latest video from Debbie Cavalier, an animated version of Debbie and Friends' "Three Pigs and a Wolf." Planet Sunday took care of the animation, while the images are by Robert Heath of Barkley Studios.

Debbie and Friends - "Three Pigs and a Wolf"

***Professor Banjo***

Straight out of Portland, Oregon comes the Dean of Five Strings, the Chancellor of Claw Hammer ... that's right, folks, it's Professor Banjo, and he's here to teach you a few things about Old Time music.

Paul Silveria, aka Prof. Banjo, teaches music at Portland's Village Free School by day, and spreads the joys of banjo playing and square dance calling by night. Old Familiar Tunes is his first CD for kids, and, true to the title's word, it's full of ancient songs you swear you've heard in movies, on TV, or floating through the breeze.

Old Familiar Tunes features well-known oldies like "Old Joe Clark," "Arkansas Traveler," "Black Eyed Suzie," and "John Henry," along with long-lost treasures like "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground," "Polly Put the Kettle On," "Soldier's Joy," and the instrumental "Salt River/Flatfoot in the Ashes." But two of the highlights have to be "Cripple Creek/Square Dance" and "Reuben's Train": the former highlights Silveria's square dance calling skills, while the latter shows off his one-man-band prowess, as he plays banjo, washboard, tambourine, spoons, bike bell, kazoo, and suitcase all at once!

"So, why don't you just listen to an album of banjo tunes by, say, Dock Boggs or Roscoe Holcomb?" Well, the fact that Professor Banjo performs regularly in the Oregon/Washington area gives kids and families a chance to experience this style of Old Time music first hand, and then they have a CD of Old Familiar Tunes to make the connection. Class dismissed!

Barenaked Ladies Make Music News

Barenaked Ladies' debut kids' CD made the headlines twice this week over at Snack Time! won the 2009 JUNO Award for Children's Album of the Year, and, on the strength of that win, hit the top of the Children's Music Charts, surpassing Playhouse Disney: Music Playdate.

Speaking Without Words

Later this month, the preschool Kindermusik classes will begin studying a unit called Feel the Music. We will be focusing on the emotions that are conveyed through various songs. Understanding emotion and body language is a new skill for preschool children, and they need plenty of opportunity for exploration in order to fully master the skill. Music listening can be a great outlet for this exploration, since musical expression plays such a fundamental role in invoking emotion.

I found an interesting study released in March on this same topic of music listening and emotional exploration. Thomas Fritz, Stefan Koelsch, and their colleagues wanted to find out whether the emotional aspects of Western music could be appreciated by people who had no prior exposure to it. They traveled to Africa, north of the Mandara mountain ranges and played Western music for the people there. They, then, asked if the listener felt the music portrayed a happy, sad or fearful emotion. "In conclusion," the researchers wrote, "both Mafa and Western listeners showed an ability to recognize the three basic emotional expressions tested in this study from Western music above chance level. This indicates that these emotional expressions conveyed by the Western musical excerpts can be universally recognized, similar to the largely universal recognition of human emotional facial expression and emotional prosody."

New Americana Music for Kids

The sub-genres in Kids' Music are constantly growing and improving, including the Americana field. I've reviewed five of the best examples of new Americana music for kids over at, and I have room to expand the list, so please feel free to send recommendations or make comments.

The Voca People

What's cookin?

I read today about a new study that was recently published in the Archive of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. It indicated that nearly 1 in 5 American four-year-olds are obese. I find this quite troublesome when you consider the life-time of health problems that will plague these preschoolers if they are not helped. The study sited alarming rates of obesity among young Native Americans, as well as higher rates among Hispanic and African American children. Parents may find it difficult to find healthy food choices that fit in with our face-paced schedules and children's tastes. It's important to read and understand the labels on the foods you are using for snacks and ready-made meals. If you are concerned about your child's weight, here are a couple of websites that can be helpful in determining if your child might be overweight: and What are some of the healthy food choices that are working really well for your family?

Steamboat ... the next Peter Frampton?

You be the judge...

StinkFest 2009: Update

Wow! StinkFest 2009 is already off to a rousing success: initial registration is completely filled, and a waiting list has been started. Everybody's eager to hear who won the final music showcase spot through SonicBids, so in the meantime, here's the complete performance lineup as well as the panel discussion themes:

Panel Discussions:
12:00pm-12:45pm - Promotion
12:50pm-1:35pm - Booking
2:30pm-3:15pm - Distribution
3:20pm-4:00pm - TV, Books & Beyond

Industry-Only Showcase:
Sonicbids contest winner
Brady Rymer
The Jimmies
School of Rock
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Lunch Money
Ralph’s World

For full details, visit the StinkFest 2009 website.

Now enrolling

Come join the band too for some summer fun! Our summer music camps are sure to keep your family jammin' through the summer. Click here to view the summer schedule.

Songs of the South

Several great new kids' albums have come from the southern states over the past few weeks, and I've posted short reviews of each over at

The Baby Grands are a trio based in Atlanta whose self-titled children's debut is as witty as They Might Be Giants or Barenaked Ladies, and as laid-back as Jack Johnson or The Dave Matthews Band. Their CD, by the way, has received more user reviews by far than any other on the site!

Daddy A Go Go, another Atlanta-based artist, has been rockin' the kids' music scene for 10 years. His first retrospective, Come On, Get Happy! The Best of Daddy A Go Go, Vol. 1, compiles some of the best tunes from his six albums for kids.

Trout Fishing In America, Arkansas' favorite kids' band, have been at it for 30 years, but have never released a true "best of" album. My Name is Chicken Joe, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch, is a picture book version of the Trout's tune of the same name. The book comes with an 11-song CD of the duo's greatest hits, a solid collection of songs for fans and new listeners alike.

***Michael Charles Smith***

Now, this is not your typical kiddie album! Michael Charles Smith is a marimba master based in Portland, OR, and he's created an instrumental concept album designed to be the soundtrack to an imaginary picture book. Melodies for Wooden Children is a series of 20 original marimba-only tunes that, along with Micalah Wilson's album art, "tell" the story of Noni, Babo, and Ani's adventures in a land of make-believe.

Song titles like "Noni and the Tickle Bugs," "Dark Water Mapping," "Nyht the Fire Fairy Queen," and "Re-inventing the Spirits of Good and Evil" are meant to spark the imaginations of children, as well as introduce them to the sounds and nuances of the marimba. Plunk this one down on the turntable and have your little ones draw their own musically-inspired pictures.

Kindermusik Maestro

I am so excited to announce that we, at Delightful Sounds, have been chosen as a Kindermusik Maestro for the sixth straight year. Developing children through music is our passion! Thank you so much to our families and friends, both in and out of the classroom, that helped to make this honor possible.

StinkFest 2009

Hey, kids' musicians! Interested in getting inside info about the industry and trading thoughts with label owners, PR people, and booking agents? Welcome to StinkFest! Bill Childs, Tor Hyams, and Stephanie Mayers have put together what may be the world's first family music conference that fully explores the diversity of today's children's music market.

StinkFest will include panel discussions on promotion, booking, distribution, and diversification, followed by a music showcase headlined by Ralph's World. The conference will be held Saturday, May 2, 2009 in Brooklyn, NY, so if you're interested in attending or would like to win a performance spot in the music showcase, check out the official StinkFest website for full details.