Friends and random acquaintances routinely ask me, “Why do you listen to kids’ music?” I’ve asked myself the same question many times.
In poking through my Top 20 albums of 2015, an answer snuck up on me: the joy of music discovery. To be presented with and to explore new music is exhilarating –like discovering a whole new color or flavor. Sharing this passion with my daughter Emily (now 7 years old) is great fun and such a bonding experience. She is growing, and the music is growing with her.
For me, music discovery is more than just the songs at face value. It’s uncovering the stories behind the music; it’s connecting with the music makers and understanding the magical, teeny bits of real life, of real people that make the album art come alive. The artists that make up the kids’ music genre are welcoming and supportive and it’s been a pleasure to dive into what drives their creativity and thus, bring their stories to life. Continue reading →
Happy New Year! I’ve been tinkering for weeks about whether to put together a “best of” list. Lists have never been my thing, but this week when I pulled up past interviews, reviews and music, I was quickly reminded that 2015 was in fact another incredible year in kids’ music. So, let’s do this thing!
The list below represents a sampling of the 20 best albums from 2015 plus one from 2014 (because I included my picks for the Fids and Kamily Awards which considers albums between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015) and a few honorable mentions. The albums are presented in no particular order, and are personal favorites of mine and those of my 7-year-old daughter Emily. They appeal to families who love music, the adventure of finding more of it, and parents who want to foster a love of music in their own kin. This, for me, is the big enchilada. It’s what I enjoy most about being a part of the industry and covering it for you.Take 10 minutes and sample a few songs on each album. I promise you’ll find more than one to love, regardless of your age.
[Flight of the Blue Whale] is eccentric. There is a meticulousness in the overall composition that captured my attention, in addition to the variety of instrumentation. Waltzes serve as segues, buoyantly carrying the listener along, while nontraditional objects are used to emphasize critical pieces of the story, e.g. Drinking glasses sonically illustrating weightlessness as a baleen whale takes flight.
Imagine if you were to open a National Geographic Kids or Ranger Rick magazine and there was music playing on each page. Animal Tales takes the pages of these beloved magazines and brings them to life with soundtracks cleverly matched to a variety of animal personalities. Each song is rich with fun animal facts, infused with the artists’ lovable sense of humor and clever ability to play with words and phrases, making it one of the most listenable and entertaining albums out there.
The musical variety of Big Block SingSong is tremendous and the lyrics are insightful and amusing, A block with a German accent singing in euro-funk style about hair; a monkey snapping off bluegrass-y lyrics about a “Two Banana Day”; and, with a catchy indie-pop backdrop, caveman named Dave pointing out that an erupting volcano is a hot mess. These are just a few of the priceless gems you’ll find in this collection.
For the past couple of years, our family has been taking little weekend trips during Thanksgiving. Our extended family is scattered throughout the United States so we typically focus the rest of our holidays and travel efforts on visits with them. This Thanksgiving, we spent some time at Legoland in San Diego. While we were waiting on line for the 4D Legends of Chima movie, we met a family who has been coming to Legoland every Thanksgiving for the past 12 years. Chuckling, as he was talking about family holiday plans, the dad said “I know we’re crazy but we love it. It’s just what we do.” What he said didn’t strike me as crazy, though.
Family traditions are special and memorable, and quickly become beloved habits. They form bonds, are reliable, and give children a sense of ownership and something to look forward to. It made me happy to think that traveling with just my husband and my daughter could turn into a special holiday tradition for us.
Our family celebrates both Chanukah and Christmas. Chanukah brings songs of peace and celebration as we light the menorah. With regard to Christmas, we prep in our own home by playing the CD A Charlie Brown Christmas as soon as our tree is up. No decorating takes place until the music is playing. It’s simply something that sets the tone, and gets us in the mood for the holidays. We also visit with our extended family for Christmas, and watch as Em wakes up to find filled stockings and gifts under the tree. In the evening, we launch into a post-dinner dance party battle. It’s a rager and it’s so fun! No surprise that music is the centerpiece of our holiday celebrations.
Sharing stories of tradition and hearing from the family during our Legoland trip, added a feeling of connection and another element of joy for me this holiday season. It was a nice reminder that amidst the hustle and bustle of it all, there are sweet, sentimental moments to be grateful for. Besides, it’s always fun to hear other people’s stories.
As an addition to holiday music posts, today’s post features friends and artists sharing their holiday traditions from their own childhood, things they do with their families now, and of course some music. Continue reading →
When I first saw the above comic, I was instantly struck by the profundity of its meaning. Amidst all of the holiday hubbub, I tend to overlook the true end result as I focus on finding just the right gifts, braving the lines at the post office, and getting ready for travel. Whether it’s being with family, pets, friends, or a larger community, being in the presence of people/loved ones really brings the best kind of presents.
Music is another source of joy, especially during the holidays. We’ve been listening to classics from previous playlists, as well as a few new items mentioned below that have definitely added to the sentiment of presence.
Below you will find a nice mix of Chanukah and Christmas music. Enjoy!
Sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with just the right words to describe a song. Sometimes, a song’s composition is so striking that I can’t help but first “feel” the song. I hear it, yet the music is so rich, so deep that the sounds take me away.
Lisa Loeb’s new Chanukah single, “Light,” does exactly that. It’s a gorgeous song that radiates like the warm glow of freshly lit candles. Renee Stahl, singer-songwriter and one half of the kindie group Renee & Jeremy, harmoniously echoes Loeb with a quiet intensity, filling the air with a special sense of hope. Loeb wrote the song in honor of Chanukah, and to remind us that we can all continue to shine brightly and steadily, with or without the flame.
What can happen in a matter of two weeks? One of the Bay Area’s finest musicians, Alison Faith Levy, expertly answers that question with grace and ease. Inspired by the ukulele tutorials we have been doing over at Moms Making Music, Levy went out and bought herself a uke, learned how to play it AND wrote and produced an original Chanukulele (Chanukah + Ukulele) song and video! In just 2 weeks! And it’s a great song! If you don’t own a uke yet, you might just be inspired to pick one up after watching this video.
You can sing along with Alison by reading the lyrics she posted on her official site.
Interested in learning how to play the ukulele? Learn along with us through our tutorials at the Moms Making Music Facebook page after you enjoy Alison’s performance in the video below.
Back with another holiday jingle, MCJ and the Chocolate Chips come together to spread love, warmth and spirit with a soul-filled throwback to the classic sounds of the 50s. “Got the Spirit” captures the essence of being present during the holiday season by encouraging us to slow down, take a breath, and rock on with our Superbad selves as we soak up the good vibrations of those around us.
Dance because it’s chilly.
Shake until we’re silly.
Slow it down…take a breath.
Now think about the little things
That make you feel so blessed.
Michael Rachap, creator of Readeez, produces original songs and pairs them with animated, lyric videos in an effort to promote a better understanding of the quirky “rules” of the English language, i.e. knowing how letter sounds change when they are next to a vowel. By pairing music with lyrics and illustrations learning is reinforced through visual prompts that aid in pronunciation and foster a deeper understanding of basic concepts. We love watching Readeez videos and with each one, I can point out and talk with my daughter about the differences between what we see, hear and speak.
Readeez’s latest video is an original Chanukah (or Hanukkah depending on your spelling preference) song called “One Blue Candle,” which is in honor of the one blue candle that diligently lights each candle on the menorah every night of Chanukah. It’s part counting song, part holiday song. Simple, but like any Readeez video, colorful, informative and meaningful.
If this song happened to show up at a holiday party and pour itself a cup of egg nog, it would not be weird at all. “I Walk So Slow Under the Mistletoe,” is a whimsical little song that captures the spirit of tradition sprinkled with just the right amount of kitsch. Martin pairs up with singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson whose unique voice blends in a nice dose of retro sweetness.
Martin explains, “I love holiday music, and I tried to pump up all of its wonderful clichés: dreamy romance, choral singing, sleigh bells…etc. I want people to feel like they’re sitting on a gumdrop sofa inside a gingerbread house while it’s raining candy canes and eggnog.”
Edmonson also appears on Martin’s debut children’s album, We’re All Young Together, in “Hey Sister.” I really love the pairing of these two timeless-sounding voices.
I love holiday music that doesn’t try too hard to be holiday music. Sure, most holiday music is covers of covers and renditions of originals but some carry a particularly nostalgic sound that captures the joy of the season in a way that feels authentic and is wonderful to hear on repeat.
British Columbia duo, Bobs and Lolo, created a holiday album called Wave Your Antlers with 15 songs that make things warm and cozy with both originals and classics (“Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” for example). There is a lot of fun packed into these songs which includes the introduction to a Christmas moose, named “Chris Moose,” naturally (see video below). “Go Freeze” offers the opportunity for a family game of freeze dance, while the unexpected rendition of “Dona Nobis Pacem,” which is latin for “Grant us peace,” gives you some downtime and pairs beautifully with candlelight.
Robyn Hardy (Bobs) and Lorraine Pond (Lolo) harmonize in a way that is reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks which is most notably heard on “Old Toy Trains,” a sweet song which is a slight lullaby or soft nudge encouraging little ones to get some sleep in preparation for the arrival of the man in red. Their joy is infectious which is another part of what makes this album so lovely. You can’t help but get happy as you sing right along with them. This album has become a family favorite which I envision being a part of our collection for years to come.
Enjoy the below video playlist which features a selection from Wave Your Antlers, including: “Chris Moose” (official), “Frosty the Snowman” (lyric), “Old Toy Trains” (lyric), “Up Up Up” (official), and “Go Freeze” (official).
There are some spectacular family events happening throughout the Bay Area this weekend. I wish I could attend them all!
If you are in the Bay Area, rest assured that there is no shortage of movement, energy and creativity. So polish up those dancing shoes and consider your weekend planned!
1) Tricycle Music Fest! Coined as the Bay Area’s biggest little music fest on the west. Taking place every weekend in September, October and early November, the 5th annual Tricycle Music Fest will peddle its way through 28 libraries for a total of 29 FREE concerts featuring 9 award-winning performers (full schedule here). Think indie music– family style– and libraries and you have the essence of Tricycle Music Fest. Last week was a huge success with Seattle kid rockers, The Not-Its!. This weekend features San Francisco, indie pop darlings, The Corner Laughers.
What better way to capture the delight of a Bay Area music festival than with a band that sings about their passion for living in San Francisco. With lyrics like, “My heart’s in San Francisco/ The city by the bay,” San Fran’s, The Corner Laughers, bring sweet, dreamy vocals with a bit of a sparkle and a jangle. There’s a hint of Karen Carpenter in there, too. Noone puts baby in the corner with this group! In fact, get ready for baby to be up there dancing and laughing right along with the rest of the crowd.
Saturday, September 14 at 11 am, Parkside Branch Library
Saturday, September 14 at 2 pm, Portola Valley Library
Charity and the Jam Band will be playing the first-ever Saturday in the Park McLaren Festival (performing in the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater) produced by Friends of the AMP. Join them for a free 2-hour rock n’roll show in this beautiful and under-appreciated SF park. Bring a picnic and get ready to be a part of the show as Charity and her lead their audience through each song filled with movements and lots of energy.
3) Yerba Buena Family Day – Downtown San Francisco’s biggest free family block party is back for its sixth year! Yerba Buena Family Day is a non-stop day of free indoor/outdoor family fun with free admission to local museums (SF Moma, Contemporary Jewish Museum, MOAD – Museum of the African Diaspora, Children’s Creativity Museum and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival). These events are open for all ages and will have hands-on art making activities for kids. Visitors get in FREE to participating institutions.
Alphabet Rockers will be bringing a high energy, movement intensive show filled with lots of dancing set to hip hop beats. Join them as they’ll have a very special show featuring Kaitlin + Tommy, DJ Wonway Posibul, and worldclass breakdancers Shinobi Jaxx (Mix’d Ingrdnts) and Brandon “Knowbody”. Dust off your old school dance moves and get ready to groove!
Story Pirates is a nationally respected education and media organization founded in 2003. They are made up of teachers, actors and comedians who perform skits based on stories written by children. Their shows are filled with music and improv. There may even be some solicitations from the audience.
If you don’t get a chance to catch the awesome Corner Laughers on Saturday, you can find a couple of them playing along with Alison Faith Levy at the Contemporary Jewish Museum on Sunday. Alison and her band will be performing 3 shows between 11am – 4p (more details here) accompanied by beautiful visual projections from the animated World of Wonder video by filmmaker Danny Plotnick.
Redwood City is proud to offer a new music series this year especially for kids!
The HipwadersSeptember 15, 2013 | 11:00 am – 1:00 pm with Andy Z emceeing and opening with a few tunes of his own!
Join Andy Z and The Hipwaders as they close out Redwood City’s first Kids Rock Series. Andy Z is a children’s performer and singer/songwriter who combines music, movement, storytelling and character puppets to create an experience that keeps kids engaged and adults entertained. His songs and albums have won national awardsand his performances earned rave reviews from educators, librarians, public figures, parents, and children alike.
The Hipwaders – The Hipwaders know how to bring a fun show filled with original tunes. As the SF Bay Times noted, “In the same spirit of completely wonderful, whimsical and musically gifted treats for the young set is the Bay Area-based Hipwaders, pulling off some brilliantly fun and surprisingly hip songs extolling touchstones of childlike glee including art cars and dinosaurs.” The Hipwaders are a highly versatile group who also delight their audience with familiar tunes including the Sesame Street theme song and the Scooby Doo theme song. They come equipped with bubbles and inflatable guitars and microphones for your little rockstar.
Summer may be quickly moving into Fall but the Bay Area is about to heat up as the most supreme family music festival hits the West Coast. Taking place every weekend in September, October and early November, the 5th annual Tricycle Music Fest will peddle its way through 28 libraries for a total of 29 FREE concerts featuring 9 award-winning performers (full schedule below). Think indie music– family style– and libraries and you have the essence of Tricycle Music Fest.
This year, Tricycle Music Fest makes its debut in San Mateo County as the San Francisco Public Library and the San Mateo County Library partner up to make this the biggest version of the festival to date. Christy Estrovitz, early literacy coordinator for San Francisco Public Library, says “Music unites us all. For young children, musical experiences, including singing and dancing, are essential to build early literacy skills. It’s thrilling to work with San Mateo County Library to engage even more families through music at the library.”
Because playing is just as important as singing in early childhood learning, there will be a raffle offering one tricycle to a lucky concertgoer at each event. All the more reason to skip the nap, grab your boogie shoes and catch a show!
The Not-Its! to open Tri Fest the weekend of September 7 and 8 with 4 shows!
Remember your first rock concert? Now your kids can too as Seattle’s most rockingest band, The Not-Its!, open this year’s Tri Fest with a bang! Armed with an energetic blend of power pop and serious rock n’ roll, this fashionable quintet puts the phrase “shake your sillies out” to shame. Curious? Get to know The Not-Its! in this clever video put together by the San Francisco Library and the San Mateo Library.
For more information on Tricycle Music Fest, please visit sfpl.org/tricycle and smcl.org/tricycle.
Also, stay tuned to this site for more updates, videos and music from each of these awesome bands.