Interview: Matt Baron of Future Hits

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In general, I think people consider learning through music as a fun way to learn, and often frivolous. I don’t want to look at what I’m doing with my students always as fun exercises. I think it’s inherently fun because it’s getting the kids to think by using songs as a springboard for a lesson, but the meatiness of the corresponding lessons really challenge and ignite the kids’ thinking.

Matthew Baron (the one in the middle of the bottom row) is a Chicago Public School ESL Resource teacher and the founder of Future Hits, a Chicago-based Kindie band and educational project that enhances learning through meaningful songs for children and their families, as well as elementary aged students.

At a time where education has come under much scrutiny due to the complexity of the new Common Core standards, Baron has combined his talent as a musician and an educator to produce over 50 songs to date, all of which have served as crucial aids in the classroom.

Future Hits’ most recent album, Today is Forever, contains a collection of songs – in English and Spanish – whose educational nature will go unnoticed at first. When I initially played the CD, I was taken by Baron’s voice, which is very similar to Stephen Malkmus’. The lyrics are relatable and I felt an instant connection to the indie sounds of the music. There was no indication that the songs were crafted to encourage proper pronunciation, literacy, phonics and many other divisions of Language Arts and Reading.

I have always wanted to be an educator and love hearing about creative ways to use music as a teaching resource. So when Today is Forever crossed my path, I was moved to learn more. I had a great conversation with Baron who goes deeper into Future Hits, as a project and a band while also explaining the many fascinating ways he integrates his songs in the classroom. He also touches upon how Dave Matthews Band encouraged singing, the new album and new curriculum he is working on that will be available online as a .PDF and mp3.

Whether you are an educator or parent, or if English or Spanish (or both) is spoken in your home, I highly recommend giving Future Hits a spin.

Today is Forever is available through Bandcamp, iTunes, and CDBaby.


KCG: Tell us about Future Hits?

Matthew Baron: Sure! I am an ESL Resource teacher, and Future Hits is a project I started as a way for me to come up with lessons that meet the needs of all types of learners.

In March 2011, I was in an alternative Masters Program for Education, and one of my key assessments was based on an in-classroom assessment. A first grade teacher who had a group of ESL students in her classroom gave me her class’s spelling words for the upcoming week, which contained long “o” words featuring “oa” and “ow” spelling patterns. With 10-12 feature words in front of me, I decided to write a song called “Yellow Boat,” which ended up being on our first album, Songs for Learning. During my assessment, I brought the song and a lyric sheet to the classroom, and gave the kids a spelling quiz. It was a smash! My assessor loved it, the teacher loved it, my administration loved it, and they all encouraged me to continue to do similar songs and exercises.

As time went on, I developed the lessons more fully. I don’t always work with spelling words; sometimes it’s vocabulary, or writing strategies like persuasive writing, “if/then” statements, or compound words. I also come up with different exercises like finding adjectives or underlining nouns, and other anchor activities like word sorts and charades. Each song’s content can shift into higher order of thinking questions, which I label as “Brain Teasers.”

At times I let kids illustrate their comprehension. So if a kid is young or has writing challenges or doesn’t know English yet, they can draw what they hear from the song first as opposed to writing it. This is an effective and joyful modification for diverse learners and English-language learners.

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KCG: How did you decide on the name Today is Forever for your second album?

Today is Forever comes from something one of my student’s said. One day after school, I overheard a seven year-old boy say to his mom when he got picked that “today is forever.” I just thought that was such a great phrase. It’s very profound, simple, and open to interpretation

KCG: Your previous career was in Sales. Going from Sales to Teaching, how would you describe your experience as an educator? 

A friend and mentor of mine told me while I was still in my education masters program: “Being a teacher isn’t just about having interesting conversations with students, you have to actually teach to the standards.” I look at my role as an educator as not necessarily doing interesting things with kids as a first priority. My first priority is to teach them what the state and the country standardizes. I think about how I can teach kids in an interesting and impactful way. In general, I think people consider learning through music as a fun way to learn, and often frivolous. I don’t want to look at what I’m doing with my students always as fun exercises. I think it’s inherently fun because it’s getting the kids to think by using songs as a springboard for a lesson, but the meatiness of the corresponding lessons really challenge and ignite the kids’ thinking.

KCG: How do you cover making music for families versus writing for your students? Is it hard to separate the educator part of yourself versus artist/musician?

When I write music for kids, I take a look the focus words (word families and vowel sounds mostly) I get from the general classroom teachers, sometimes there are 10, sometimes 20, I look at them on a page and think “what could this song be about?” For example, a new song on our yet to be released 2017 album is called “Mood Change,” and It teaches about long u (“ue” and “oo”) words. Solely based on the focus words I got prior to writing the song, it occurred to me that this could be a song about a kid who’s feeling depressed after school and what he can do to feel better. So it has a general appeal. It’s one of my favorite Future Hits songs because it’s based my experience as a kid and an adult; it explains how I think negative thoughts, and how I must act to get myself out of that thinking.

KCG: Does that process shift when you write specifically for students, and with the Common Core Standards in mind?

I start as a means of simplicity to help students understand sounds and then work with the focus words. Once I have the first iteration of a song, which incorporates the focus words, I think about how I can write lessons that go along with it, and that can help me teach to Common Core standards. In “Mood Change” I thought through how I could talk about settings that affect a child’s mood, like being at the library,  pool, or zoo, and that wasn’t intentional. My only intention was to talk about double o words, and the short double o sound, which is pronounced “ouhh” as in “look” and “cook.” Then I added in a lot of double o, long o sounds like “oo,” as in “zoo” and “pool”, which allows me to use the song in an expanded way in terms of kids differentiating the sounds that “oo” can make. I always tell them that the English language is very strange, and unlike Spanish, has very few rules, so we must remember why letters sound the way they do in every particular word.

KCG: In addition to encouraging pronunciation, what other Common Core standards do your songs address?

The songs have also worked to support key Common Core areas such as inferences and figurative language. Our song, “On Stormy Mornings,” for example, has literal lyrics (“On stormy mornings /  I get a late start”) and figurative ones (“My room is so dark / I sleep like a rock”). That line is also an idiom, something that is essential for ESL students to learn. Altogether those three things are where I align to different Common Core standards and different writing levels. This is what’s so great about being a resource teacher; I never considered literal or figurative language for “On Stormy Morning” until a teacher said we’re doing literal and figurative language and asked if I had any songs that would work to teach this. 

One day, I did an exercise with my students that I didn’t intend. In “On Stormy Mornings,” the word “parched” appears. The lyric goes, “My mouth is so parched / before it gets wet.” The kids didn’t know what the word “parched” meant, so we broke down the exercise. I only had them read that one line, “My mouth is so parched,” and then we sang it once. I explained to them that if they aren’t familiar with what a word means, a great reading strategy is to read around the word they are not sure about. I told them that to read a little before the word or a little bit after to gain better understanding. Together we then looked at the next line “But before it gets wet, and a girl’s hand shot up and she said “Parched means dry!” I asked how she knew that, and she said “Well, before my mouth gets wet, it’s dry.” So that’s Common Core-aligned strategy, letting kids gain strategies to read text closely to gain richer understanding. This turned out to be a great unexpected lesson.

KCG: SEL (Social Emotional Learning) is also a hot topic. In my daughter’s school they have specialists come in to teach various aspects and scenarios to the kids to encourage better interpersonal (and personal) experiences within the classroom and outside of it, like on the playground for example. Does you also write songs that align to SEL standards?

Each song has an SEL standard affixed to it, and can be used to teach SEL in a real way that aligns to standards. How the SEL standards arise is from working backwards. For example, I don’t say I’m going to write a song about honesty. Instead, I look and see that there is a standard about trust or honesty, and I think about how a particular song I’ve already written can express the meaning of trust. This makes the process more simple, instead of having all of these parameters around how a song must be in order to meet educational goals. I can look at each song and notice at least one SEL theme, and from there I find actual standards and use the songs to teach them.

KCG: Do you consider Future Hits to be an educational band? 

I was very intentional about having Today is Forever straddle both elements of the band’s goals, which is to be an educational band, and also to be a band that people can enjoy whether or not they are tapped into the educational component.

The title of our first album, Songs for Learning, is sort of a wink and homage to Brian Eno’s Music for Airports because I was listening to that album a lot around the time I was working on that album. With Today is Forever, we’re a little less overt with the educational nature of this album. For example, on the back cover of Songs for Learning, there are asterisks that denote how songs are aligned to Common Core and social emotional learning, whereas with Today is Forever, we put the educational charts in the liner notes.  Aligning our songs to educational standards is essential for us, but I wanted to convey that the record can stand alone as an album that people can listen to and not necessarily use just for educational purposes.

KCG: Why do you describe Future Hits as “the heartfelt (yet secretly educational) music project for kids, families and teachers”? It seems like “secretly educational” is a disclaimer to avoid any stigma or disapproval from the general public about what your music might sound like. 

We got a tagline (“fun (yet secretly educational)” from a review in Time Out Chicago a few years ago. We can be fun at times, but fun isn’t how I would describe us.  I do think every thing we do is heartfelt, and so that’s why I substituted that word in there.  I don’t think we need to hide the “secretly educational” piece, it really does just describe what we do. When I explain Future Hits’s music to people, I tell them it’s educational, but it’s not directly instructional like “hey kids we’re gonna learn bout the long “o” sound! Here we go: “oh, oh, oh, oh!” Continue reading

Singled Out: “I Wanna Be A Giraffe” – Andrew & Polly

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I love when kids wear their dress up clothes in public like it’s just another day. The matter of fact way they own whatever identity they take on is so amazing to watch. Almost 7, and in first grade, my daughter doesn’t seek to dress up as much anymore, but she used to dress up all the time: The Hulk, a blue bird, a Bob Marley medical doctor mashup. And it didn’t matter if we were walking down the street, or going into a restaurant, library or post office. It was all the same. Playing dress up gives kids such an amazing outlet to explore their imaginations, expand their creative minds, and even connect a little more with their own feelings and emotions. In their latest single, “I wanna be a giraffe,” Andrew & Polly capture the essence of all of this.

“I wanna be a giraffe” was inspired by a beautiful photo of a giraffe camouflaged in front of a tree that Andrew & Polly found while doing research for Ear Snacks: Disguises. Check out the second photo in that link. See if you and your kids can find the giraffe. It’s pretty hard to find!

Polly adds: This song is sung by a giraffe – but also by us, obviously!  It’s a little absurd but we feel this way all the time.  At first, the giraffe is feeling awkward and exposed out on the savannah.  After trying out a few disguises, the giraffe realizes how much fun it is to try new things – we can imagine a great montage in which the giraffe stands in a dressing room trying on lots of different costumes while singing, “I wanna be something else!  I wanna be something else today!!!”

There are so many different ways to dress, so many different jobs and hobbies you could have, so many different ways to talk and think and look and feel.  The giraffe likes imagining all the possibilities – we do, too!  So the giraffe realizes – “I wanna be like you…  And I also kinda wanna be me, too.  There’s just so many ways to be – I wanna be a lot of things.”

Trying out the new things helps the giraffe realize – you don’t have to just be one thing.  And you can change whenever you want.  At the end of all that, it’s easy for the giraffe to say – “I…  I wanna be a giraffe!”

So grab your best dress-up clothes and get ready to sing-along!

Check this Out: Rocksteady by Josh and the Jamtones

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One of the most exciting jobs I had when I was a teenager was working at…wait for it… Sam Goody. Who remembers the music store Sam Goody?! I worked in inventory which was such a sweet deal because employees got to keep their share of CDs before they hit the shelves. It was here that my love for ska, punk, and hardcore blends of each blossomed. Sublime’s 40oz to Freedom made it’s way into my regular rotation and somehow my parents were completely ok with it, thankfully. For those familiar or even unfamiliar with this album, it’s definitely got its share of expletives and “adult content.” As a parent, I would probably try and postpone similar things by at least a decade for my daughter, or at least work hard to find radio edit versions. Isn’t it funny how that works?

This is where kids music has opened up many doors for our family in terms of introducing all the flavors of adult music, without compromising the quality. One of the bands that takes me back to the “Goody days” is Josh and the Jamtones. I first witnessed the power of this Boston-based crew during a live performance showcase at an industry conference (“Kindiefest”). This band lit it up! Instant success. Instant sweat. I have since gone on to work with them as their booking agent but our family’s adoration of their music has preceded my professional affiliation with the band. As a music lover and blogger, I consider it my wholehearted responsibility to introduce you to a really killer listening experience.

Josh and the Jamtones has been pumping out ska/reggae/rock jams since 2012. Their music has always had a catchy element to it, garnering several top placements in the Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live Countdown, but it is with their latest album, Rocksteady, that the Jamtones deliver exactly what makes them such a successful family staple. And they come correct! Rocksteady is a powerful amplifier that cranks out hit after hit. And there is no age limit. This is literally music that the whole family will enjoy.

Produced by Patrick Hanlin, also the Jamtones’ beatmaster/drummer, Rocksteady features several special guests including Grammy nominated hip hop master Secret Agent 23 Skidoo who drops some goosebump-inducing lyrical color on “I <3Ur Face” and “I Love U (JZ Remix),” Father Goose (featured on Grammy nominated Dan Zanes’ albums), and Jesse Peter Wagner from The Aggrolites, who sings on a remake of Toots and the Maytals’ “Monkeyman.”

Though the tempo of most of the songs reach some bpm heights, the band offers some cool down opps during the smooth dub-reggae track “Katmandu,” the sweet pop melody of “L-O-V-E” and acoustic ballad “1 of a Kind” though these tracks are not sleepy by any means. There is also some comedic interludes between bandleader Josh Shriber and producer/drummer Hanlin, similar to their previous album, Bear Hunt. Adults will likely find this humor more relatable and funny than their tots. I found myself laughing out loud several times while my daughter preferred to move on. The improvisational skill between Shriber and Hanlin is undeniable and I think these bits could do very well in their own dedicated release or podcast as opposed to being integrated into an already colorful musical landscape. But that’s again what drives the appeal to more of an all ages crowd.

For the music lover who likes just the right amount of attitude coupled with 40oz of their favorite kid-friendly elixir, Rocksteady is an all natural, preservative free guaranteed spirit booster. Get your hands on a copy and skank your cares away.

Rocksteady is available through Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby.

Fans of Josh and the Jamtones may also like The Not-Its!, Board of Education, The Aquabats, the Boogers, Sublime, The Police, Bob Marley, No Doubt, Long Beach Dub Allstars, Bad Brains, Toots and the Maytals, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, The Aggrolites, Gorillaz, Beastie Boys, and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Fresh Press Digest 002 – Laurie Berkner partners with Simon & Schuster, Lisa Loeb’s new album with Amazon, and a Mighty Mo Productions debut

Hello Everybody! Welcome back to the Kids Can Groove Fresh Press Digest!

Edition 002 is full of new and exciting news.

unnamedLaurie Berkner & Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers to Publish Three Picture Books

This is a HUGE announcement! Laurie Berkner will publish three picture books with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Starting in Spring 2017, Berkner will release the first book based on one of her most popular songs, We Are the DinosaursShortly thereafter, Pillowland, a gorgeous lullaby destined to become a beloved bedtime book, is due out in Fall 2017 and will be illustrated by Camille Garoche. Monster Boogie, a hit at Berkner’s live shows, is scheduled for Summer 2018, also to be illustrated by Ben Blanton.

Laurie Berkner, as many of you may know was a former preschool music teacher and indie rocker. Her latest album, Laurie Berkner’s Favorite Classic Kids’ Songs, hits stores this month (October 23, 2015!). The album includes 51 well-loved, traditional children’s songs, plus 6 bonus tracks of popular Laurie Berkner originals. Click on the album link in this post for more info.

“It is no wonder that Laurie is beloved by children and adored by parents,” says Christian Trimmer, executive editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “Her songs, besides being incredibly catchy, are crafted with the utmost care and respect for her audience. She understands what kids, parents, and educators want and need. On top of that, she’s just really cool. I’m very excited to be making books with her.”

“I could not be more thrilled about my collaboration with Simon & Schuster,” says Laurie Berkner. “I’ve always imagined my songs being made into picture books. Now Ben’s and Camille’s stunning talents will bring them to life in ways I can only dream of! Their talent and Simon & Schuster’s expertise (with the gifted Christian Trimmer at the helm) is the perfect combination to help me create many wonderful books to share with my fans.”


516KOzNrsUL._SS280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0Lisa Loeb’s Nursery Rhyme Parade is available through Amazon Music! 

Lisa Loeb’s fourth children’s album, Nursery Rhyme Parade! is now being offered exclusively to Amazon Prime members through Amazon Music HERE. This album is also one of two children’s albums to debut on Amazon Music this fall. Loeb’s new recording will be available in both digital format and as a CD package, available on-demand.

Nursery Rhyme Parade is chock full of familiar nurser rhymes and songs  – 35 to be exact! – perfect for building a musical foundation for teeny tiny and toddling ones. Songs on the album include guest artists such as singer-songwriter Renee Stahl of Renee & Jeremy and Renee & Friends, with children’s voices rounding out the joyful tome of the album. Acclaimed children’s book and magazine illustrator Ekaterina Trukhan created the bright animal art for the album.

Many of you may recall from her hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film Reality Bites. Her music career has stayed strong in both adult and family genres while also designing Lisa Loeb Eyewear, writing children’s books, and supporting non-profit causes. The Los Angeles based mother of two is well known to parents and kids for her albums Catch the Moon (with Elizabeth Mitchell) and Camp Lisa (with sales benefiting the Camp Lisa Foundation). She published her second picture book-CD for Sterling Children’s Books: Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’, in 2013. Lisa recently collaborated to co-write the children’s musical “Camp Kappawanna,” which debuted at New York City’s Atlantic Theater Company.


6PAN1T-C PSDNew Kindie lablel, Mighty Mo Productions, releases debut compilation featuring award-winning artists.

On October 16, 2015 Mighty Mo Productions released its first album called Smiles Ahead. The compilation is filled with award-winning artists like Grammy winners The Okee Dokee Brothers, Grammy nominees The Pop Ups and Secret Agent 23 SkidooBrady Rymer and The Verve Pipe, Billboard Top 100 artist Rissi Palmer, and multi-award-winning artists like Frances England, Kira Willey, Grenadilla, Johnny BregarMista Cookie Jar, Caspar Babypants and a debut artist, Katydid.

Smiles Ahead can be purchased through the label’s site, Amazon,  and iTunes.

Check out previously published interviews and videos with featured artists Frances England and Rissi Palmer.

#WhatMakesYouSmile featuring Rissi Palmer celebrating the release of Mighty Mo’s Smiles Ahead

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The idea of living life with childlike wonder has been rolling around in my mind for a while, and not just because I’m a mom. Sometimes I just want to get closer to that uninhibited, ridiculously silly voice that otherwise takes a backseat to professional and parental obligations. Obviously, as a mature adult I can’t get too uninhibited, but, in general, my day could really brighten up with a little more nonsense and play. Kids are amazing in that respect. They move through life in moments, and their joy is naturally infectious.

For my daughter, each day begins with a fresh new perspective. Waking up to our dog licking her face, catapulting into my bed in the morning, wearing a cape, drawing on a pristine piece of paper, or just holding a pretty marble are all things that make her smile. That’s the beauty of childhood and something I truly envy at times! It’s also what makes being a parent such an adventure, keeping me closer to living life with childlike wonder.

Celebrating that unfettered joy and offering it up in the form of music is something I tend to get really excited about. Rissi Palmer, a North Carolina-based singer-songwriter, is featured on Smiles Ahead, a compilation that is debuting today by new kids music label Mighty Mo Productions. What you will immediately notice is that Rissi’s voice is golden, and her song “Best Day Ever” is just such a wonderful reminder that life’s precious and most gleeful moments can be found in the little things. Whether it’s the bestest breakfast or just chillin’ in your jammies, it’s the in-between, the tiny details that make life so sweet.

Many of you may be familiar with Rissi from the Country music world. Best Day Ever is also the name of her debut family album and there is just so much soul and joy in this record. Rissi has had an extremely accomplished (putting it mildly) career as a Country Soul singer, including earning a comfy spot in Billboard’s Hot 100, and recently appearing on the Tavis Smiley Show. She’s amazing and another excellent choice that makes Mighty Mo’s new compilation such a treasure.

Smiles Ahead will be available in select Hallmark Stores. You can also purchase it online at Mighty Mo Produtions’ official site, iTunes and Amazon.

Below, Rissi shares what makes her smile, and I am extending the same questions to all of you. I would love to hear what makes you, your family, your pets smile.

For more #WhatMakesYouSmile goodness check out the post I published earlier this week featuring Frances England. You can listen to and watch the video for “The Sun Will Shine Again” here.
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Kids Can Groove: Tell me about “Best Day Ever.” Is there a special meaning or inspiration behind it?

RP: “Best Day Ever” was the first song written when I decided to do a children’s album. My co writers (Deanna Walker, Rick Beresford, & Blue Miller) and I sat in Blue’s studio with my then 9 month old daughter Grace as our inspiration/mascot and talked about all the things that would make up a kid’s perfect day. It turned out to be such a fun song and set the tone for all the other songs on the album that we decided to make it the title of the whole project.

KCG: How did you earn about Smiles Ahead, and what drew you to it? 

RP: Jim Cosgrove gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse lol! Once I heard the concept and who was on the project, I was sold.  This is a special thing and I’m really honored to be a part of it. I especially love the tag line “cool music for cool families”.

KCG: What makes you smile? Could be a memory or two, a special someone or something like fills you up, etc.

RP: Listening to my 4-year-old daughter, Grace, sing the songs she makes up makes me smile. Music has been a lifelong passion of mine and it brings me so much joy to see my child grow to love it as well.

KCG: What is next on the horizon for you?

RP: I am currently recording a Christmas EP that will be released in November 2015 entitled 3 and I’m on the road supporting my “adult” EP, The Back Porch Sessions, which was released in May 2015.

Fresh Press Digest 001: Billboard features Latin Children’s Musicians, Loog Guitars launched lessons with Tim Kubart, The Pop Ups debut through Amazon Music, and Rhapsody releases Rhapsody KIDS

Welcome to the first “Fresh Press” edition here on Kids Can Groove. It’s a brave new world for Chidren’s Music and I want to capture related and exciting news, in addition to my regular features, reviews, videos and interviews.

To kick off the first Fresh Press post, let’s start with the Billboard feature by Judy Cantor-Navas, Billboard Correspondent and Billboard en Español Managing Editor, who published a great article titled 5 Latin Children’s Music Artists You Should Know which highlights Jose-Luis Orozco123 Andrès, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam BandSonia de Los Santos and Chino y Nacho.

This Billboard feature was published during a particularly celebratory time for Latin Children’s musicians. In addition to it being Hispanic Heritage Month, 123 Andrès was recently awarded his first Latin Grammy Award nomination for ¡Uno, Dos, Tres, Andrés! en Español y en Inglés and Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band celebrate their second Latin Grammy Award nomination for Adelante! (they won their first Latin Grammy Award for Aqui, Alla). 

Additional musicians covered are José-Luis Orozco and Sonia de Los Santos. Orozco, a prominent figure in this style of music has had a prolific career as a bilingual musician, composer and educator. Not only is he releasing bis sixteenth album, ¡Come Bien! Eat Right!, but it’s also his first release through Smithsonian Folkways! Joining Orozco on the list is Sonia de Los Santos, a singer-songwriter who has been an integral part of the Grammy Award winning group Dan Zanes and Friends. Sonia is working on her first solo family music album.

NOTE: Videos by Billboard’s featured artists can be found within the article. Below is Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band’s latest video for “Piñata Attack” (a live version can be found within the Billboard article as well).


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Loog Guitars launches Loog Academy featuring guitar lessons with Tim Kubart of the Sprout Channel’s Sunny Side Side Up Show!

The new Loog website launched an all new Loog Academy featuring Tim Kubart of Sprout’s Sunny Side Up Show giving some expert lessons to get beginner players started. There is also a ‘parents’ page addressing the benefits of kids with children and for families playing music together. Check out Lesson 1: The Loog method overview with Tim here.

Also, Loog released a new Loog Electric Guitar series which features a Lucite model for hip young rockstars. Additional electric guitars come in a variety colors including pink, blue, yellow, white, green, red, black, and natural. Loog’s beautifully designed 3-string guitars make it easier for kids to make music and still allows them play chords in any song. It’s a less intimidating and quicker approach to the fun of making music. The Loog Guitar comes unassembled as a kit for children and parents to build together, creating an instant emotional bond between musician and their instrument- also a great fit for the current DIY/maker trend. The finished result is a fully functional, beautiful looking and sounding guitar. The holidays are just around the corner (already!) and giving the gift of music, with long-lasting, quality equipment is priceless. Especially when little rockers want to smash their guitar after an awesome living room performance.

Loog pricing

ElectricLoog $199
ElectricLoog in Lucite $299
Special Edition Jack White/ Little Third Man Electric Guitar $200
AcousticLoog $159

Various accessories including Loog custom fit backpacks for guitar transport are also available at loogguitars.com/collections/products.

Also, check out Tim and the Space Cadet’s new video for “Breakfast Club (feat. Carly Ciarocchi) from Kubart’s recently released album for families, Home.


610+A9x2u7L._SS280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0The Pop Ups release their third album, Great Pretenders Club, exclusively online through Amazon Music with Lisa Loeb to follow. The release of The Pop Ups’ third album marks a major milestone as this is the first kids’ album Amazon’s Editors chose to exclusively release to Amazon Prime members. Anyone visiting Amazon can purchase the album, but Prime members get the extra special privilege of downloading the album for free. The Pop Ups will be releasing videos for each song on the album through Amazon Music’s YouTube channel so make sure to subscribe. You can also catch up with The Pop Ups through to their newsletter, follow along in Twitter and/or Facebook to stay up to date on releases.
In the meantime, enjoy the first video from Great Pretenders Clu, “Bird and Rhino.”


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Rhapsody launches Rhapsody KIDS a new streaming service  (as part of their main app) specifically targeting younger listeners and their families.

The main Rhapsody app is a subscription-based model which means access to music is available for a set monthly price. Rhapsody is offering a special subscription rate bundle with Rhapsody KIDS for $1/month for 3 months and then the pricing goes up to $9.99/month.

Below are some of the highlights that Rhapsody KIDS offers.

  • Create-your-own: Parents can select songs from the main Rhapsody app and add them to a playlist in the KIDS section.
  • Featured editor curated songs and playlists.
  • Offline Access – Save your data plan! Anything that’s bookmarked for kids automatically downloads for offline listening.
  • Repetition is key – Songs and playlists in Rhapsody KIDS automatically loop so you’re kids can hear their favorites til the cows come home.
  • Keep it separate – The KIDS section is designed to fool the young’uns from getting back into the main Rhapsody catalog and revamping your playlists or cranking out some jams to a song you wouldn’t even want to play in public. Rhapsody requires users who want to return to the main app to swipe the screen in a specific direction.

For more info on the artists mentioned in this edition of “Fresh Press” click on the accompanying links in this post.

Stay tuned here for more “Fresh Press!” I’ll be back with updates next week.

Video: “L-O-V-E You” – Play Date

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Recently, Play Date released a video and it’s L-O-V-E-L-Y. Together, Gregory Attonito and Shanti Wintergate (husband-wife duo) capture the spirit, mystery, playfulness and omnipresence of love. It’s such a sweet video to accompany an equally heartwarming song.

Take a listen and then go spread some of that warmth to the loved one(s) in your life.

“L-O-V-E You” is a single from Play Date’s most recent release We All Shine which can be purchased through Play Date’s merch site.