I’ve got a little o’ the Irish in me, so I’m taking advantage of my lineage to celebrate St. Patty’s Day with a clip of the Young Dubliners playing a 200-year-old song, “Follow Me Up to Carlow.” This clip has a short interview at the beginning, so if you want to skip to the song, go to the 1:07 minute mark. It’s a bit different from the “Down to Carlow” we sing in class, isn’t it? (And, if you have any idea what the lyrics are, let me know!) I love this music.
I meant to post this on International Pi Day (3/14, which was this past Monday), but instead I was being wowed by Zoe Keating (see my previous post). Listening to the radio on the morning of the 14th, I heard a short NPR interview with the musician Michael John Blake. He has composed a song based on the number Pi (3.14….), in which he plays the musical notes that correspond to the digits in the Pi sequence. Here’s his YouTube video for the song, which makes the whole thing so clear…and so beautiful. Enjoy!
P.S. We had blueberry pie for dessert on Pi Day.
Last night, I went to a live, stage taping of WNYC’s fantastic science-as-you’ve-never-thought-of-it-before radio show, Radiolab, and — while the show itself was everything I’d hoped it would be — the absolute surprise of the night was the artist who accompanied the dialogue with her cello: Zoë Keating. Here’s a description of her work from her website: “Zoë Keating is a one-woman orchestra. She uses a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layer upon layer of cello, creating intricate, haunting and compelling music…[and is] increasingly considered a role model for DIY artists.” This video clip captures her work perfectly.
Try this at home: Put on some music — any music that has a good beat — and grab a bouncy ball (tennis ball, basketball, playground ball, etc.). It doesn’t matter what your child is doing, but you might want to give her a ball of her own (or she’ll be grabbing yours). Take a seat and bounce the ball on the floor to the beat. (Bounce, catch. Bounce, catch.) When you’re ready to change it up, toss the ball in the air and catch it — again, on the beat. (Toss, catch. Toss, catch.) Ready for a change-up, again? How about a toss-catch followed by a bounce-catch? (Toss, catch, bounce, catch. Toss, catch, bounce, catch.)
No matter how you do it, the cool thing about ball-music is that your child is watching the beat travel through space. Not only is she hearing (or feeling) the impact of the ball as it hits the floor or your hands, but she’s seeing the entire length of the beat — the time it takes for the ball to get from your hands to the floor and back again. It’s like seeing music (kind of trippy, I know, but what an awesome idea…).
Have fun — and let me know how it goes!
After hearing people rave about local Zumba classes for a couple of years, I finally tried one. (Surprise: I love it!) Now, if you’re in one of my Music Together classes, you know I like to get my move on (“Well, at least I don’t have to exercise today,” said one mom a few weeks ago), so it’s not surprising that I like the up-tempo, up-energy of a Zumba class. Even more fantastic than the hip shakes and salsa legs, though, is the overall attitude: It’s about having fun, not about getting it right. Now, that’s right up my alley.
In Zumba class, I feel like one of the children in my Music Together classes — I see what the “grown-ups” (the experienced Zumba-ers) are doing, I try the moves in my own body, and the two don’t necessarily match. But, instead of expecting that I’ll “get it right,” I let myself play (like a kid would). Sometimes the swish of my hips looks just like the teacher’s, but more often than not I’m still missing the mark. Once, I looked in the mirror and saw a look of smiling-concentration-wonder on my face, and I later thought about how many times I’ve seen that same look on a child’s face in music class.
I love that we let children come to a place of eventual mastery in their own way, at their own pace in Music Together, and I am thoroughly enjoying being on the kid-end of music development in Zumba. I think I’m getting a peek at what it’s like to be a kid in a Music Together class, and I’ve got to tell you — it’s a whole lot of let-me-be-me fun!
It’s Mardi Gras! Makes me think of New Orleans, of course. We’re sing, listening to, and playing along with “When the Saints Go Marching In” on our MT CD’s this semester, and here’s a little extra bit of New Orleans to celebrate the day: Kermit Ruffins, an awe-inspiring trumpeter/singer/composer born and bred in New Orleans, playing/singing “St. James Infirmary.” What I particularly love about this clip is the camera work on his trumpeting — great for children and grown-ups to see the instrument up close, especially when Kermit is playing the heck out of it. (The trombone next to him is fantastic, too.)
The Music Together national office is asking MT families this question:
What is one way that your family uses music throughout your day?
Now, I’ve heard enough stories in class to know that a lot of you can easily answer this question! What about the family who sings “Mary Wore a Red Dress” to help get clothes on in the mornings? (You know who you are…) What about the family who puts on the Music Together CD whenever their child gets fussy in the car? (You know who you are…) What about the family who starts every day by cranking up the stereo and dancing around the living room like wild people? (You know who you are, too…) Send in your stories, and you might win some cool instruments (and I won’t even ask you to share them with the class — they’ll be all yours. :-)
Please email your answer to SWYCM@musictogether.com by 12:00 EST on this Friday, March 11. Everyone who responds with an idea will be entered into a drawing for this prize: Individual Percussion Set AND a Woodpecker Rhythm Instrument ($22.50 value). The winner will be announced Friday afternoon!
OK, so when my 8-year-old daughter started making noise about wanting to see the Justin Bieber docu-movie, I cringed. I don’t have anything against The Biebster (in fact, I don’t understand why so many people knock him), but did I really need to see thousands of tweenies screaming for him, and in 3D, no less?! Apparently — yes — I did need that. My daughter and I saw the movie last weekend and I loved it. Didn’t want it to end. Crazy, right? Listen, I enjoyed the music, the dancing, and the vast numbers of kids I saw singing at the tops of their lungs. JB’s story (at least the version told in this movie) is compelling, and I was rooting for him the whole way. There are even a few hilarious self-mocking moments that make him seem even more like a “normal” boy (which he’s not, I totally get that, but I allowed myself to be swayed while in the theater).
From a music development perspective, there’s an interesting section in the movie about the house where he grew up: His mom was a teenager when she had JB, and her teenage friends would come to her apartment and hang out (’cause that’s what teenagers do, after all), and they were musicians. They sang and played guitar, bass, drums, etc., and JB was right there in mix. Between that home scene and his church (also musical), JB seems to have grown up in an environment filled with music (which explains, at least in part, how he could drum some amazingly complicated rhythms as a four-year-old — the home movies are ridiculous!). Now, not everyone with a rich musical home environment is going to become a Justin Bieber, but I will hazard to say that it’s harder to become a Justine Bieber without it.
I’m glad I volunteered to accompany my daughter to the JB movie (while the rest of my family saw something with far fewer screaming tweenies in it). When I first saw the previews I thought, “Well, I won’t be seeing that movie.” Know what? Never say never.
STORY FROM A MOM
There’s a mom in one of my classes who calls herself “totally not musical.” (“Baloney!” I say)Anyway, to her credit, she sings with her daughter throughout the day even though she says she can’t sing. (“Baloney!” again.) On a recent morning, her daughter was in her crib declaring that she wasn’t going to get up. The mom starts telling the daughter that she will, indeed, get up, and the daughter replies that she won’t. (Does anyone else think that this is more of a teenage-to-mom conversation than a not-yet-two-year-old-to-mom conversation? I would have paid big money for my kids to stay in their cribs and refuse to get up!) ANYWAY, again to her credit, the mom starts singing, “Ye-es!” To which the child sings back, “No-o!”
And on it went. Each time, the mom’s “yes” song got higher and higher, and the daughter’s “no” song got lower and lower. (Can I tell you that I LOVE this?) They were having an intense musical conversation, where not only the words but the mini-melodies of the “songs” were conveying so much information. The mom told me that hearing her daughter’s pitch get lower and lower represented the daughter’s posture of going against her mom — her opposition to the mom’s wishes. Wow. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a song conveys a thousand emotions. Through song, this family is learning a whole new way of communicating. To that, I say, “Ye-es!”