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

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

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

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.