It is often said that "music hath charms to soothe the savage beast" but I am quite sure when English playwright William Congreve penned that line in 1697, he could not imagine it having such longevity. The truth is that Congreve’s words are more often misquoted. Congreve’s original line, from "The Mourning Bride" is "music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak."
Maybe this quote from Hans Christian Andersen, "where words fail, music speaks," is more fitting because this month I want to spotlight lullaby, bedtime and quiet-time music.
I would also like to try something a little different. I am convinced that parents who read Chicago Parent have a vast knowledge and experience base. And when a network like this pools its knowledge, we all can benefit.
Here is my idea: Do you have a favorite CD that you play at bedtime or other quiet times? If so, would you share the title? How do you get involved, you ask? Easy! I have created an online survey that you can visit to enter your favorite lullaby, bedtime or quiet-time CD. Simply go to http://tinyurl.com/dftzcw to fill out the survey.
I will get the list started by sharing the recordings that have stood the test of time in our home with our son, Matthew. Here are my top three choices, but first, a little side story. While writing this article, I went to look for these CDs and two of them were not only in Matthew’s room, but in his 10-disc CD player.
On A Starry Night, by Various Artists, Windham Hill, $16.98, www.amazon.com; all ages.
This CD is affectionately known around our house as "Na, Na" because the first song, "Common Threads," performed by Bobby McFerrin, has no "lyrics"—just a beautiful and calming melody sung with "Na, Na."
Produced by violin virtuoso Tracy Silverman, "On A Starry Night" features lullabies from around the world performed by world-class musicians. No two songs sound alike but are all lovely and outstanding in their own right.
i will hold your tiny hand: Evening Songs and Lullabies, by Steve Rashid, Woodside Avenue Music, $15, www.cdbaby.com; all ages.
As you may know, Steve Rashid is a local musician, composer and producer. He has produced all of Jim Gill’s CDs as well as projects for other children’s music artists, including Chicago’s own Tricia Sebastian.
This project was written and recorded when Rashid’s own son, Robert, was just an infant (Robert is now in college). But this just proves that great music never goes out of style.
Parent after parent has commented on how these songs are "real songs" as opposed to a lot of the lullaby music marketed to parents. Sound clips and purchase options are available at cdbaby.com. Just type "Steve Rashid" in the search box.
In The Arms of Love: Lullabies 4 Children + Adults, by Ottmar Liebert, Higher Octave Music, $14.99, amazon.com; all ages.
Liebert has brought flamenco guitar music to many listeners and so "In the Arms of Love" is a bit of a departure for him. He has told fans that these songs would probably never be performed live because "I might fall asleep, too, and what then?" Despite his candor, this CD, which is mostly solo acoustic guitar pieces with minimal embellishments, serves its purpose well.
This CD was Matthew’s choice for number three and though I like it, it may not have been in my top three. We agreed on the top two, so I thought I should defer to him since he is the one doing the listening.
I really look forward to your participation. The survey will be open through June 30, and we will share the results in an upcoming issue.
Fred Koch lives in Lake Bluff with his wife and son and is an award-winning music educator, recording artist and producer. His Web site, BestChildrensMusic.com, helps parents, teachers and librarians select quality children’s music. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.