Here is the good news/bad news again: There are loads of great
CDs being released for children, but I would need a weekly column
to get to all of them. With that in mind, I'll call your attention
to three outstanding new releases.
MY TRAMPOLINE, by Peter Himmelman, Minivan
Productions, $14.95, www.minivanproductions.com; ages 5-10.
I have loved every family music CD that Peter Himmelman has
released. And "My Trampoline" is no exception. The reason is
simple: Himmelman is an accomplished songwriter who uses his
observations and sensibilities as a parent to create songs that are
unique, clever and memorable.
Because Himmelman is such a fanciful wordsmith and creative
musician, his songs always feature fabulous stories and musical
excursions perfectly suited for children. As a parent and educator,
I appreciate his style mainly because it gets kids thinking about
who they are and how they fit in the world. And to be honest, I
just really love his wacky and zany approach to writing songs for
I have always maintained that the best songs for kids are the
ones that use storytelling to get the point across. Instead of
preaching, songwriters such as Himmelman realize the power of this
Be sure to go to www.peterhimmelman.com and click on the KIDS
link to see his previous children's music CDs, listen to some songs
and view videos. Then go to www.minivanproductions.com to get more
information about "My Trampoline."
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPH, by The Dreyer Family Band,
Mighty Toad Music, $14.98, www.DreyerFamilyBand.com; all ages.
I often find great kids and family music by reading some of the
bloggers who specialize in children's music, and one of my
favorites is Warren Truitt, a children's librarian in New York
City. His blog is called Kids' Music That Rocks and you might enjoy
reading it, too, at kidsmusicthatrocks.blogspot.com. Warren's blog
is where I first heard about "Family Photograph" by The Dreyer
I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. As a parent it made
me smile, as an educator it reminded me about the power of song as
a storytelling tool, and as a reviewer it rekindled my belief that
there are extremely talented and artistic people creating great
music for kids and families.
Though I could write in detail about the great qualities of each
song, "Mad" is one that really stands out and represents what is
best about this CD-the real-life situations that give these songs
I also enjoy the fact that, stylistically, this recording runs
the gamut from "Appalachian mountain jams to funky urban grooves to
campfire music to playground patty-cake songs."
Do yourself a favor and check out "Family Photograph." You won't
KIDS IN THE CITY, by Laura Doherty, Laura
Doherty Music, $13.99, www.lauradohertymusic.com; ages 3-7.
I also enjoy recommending new artists, especially when they are
Chicago-based. If you are familiar with the early childhood
Wiggleworms program at The Old Town School of Folk Music in
Chicago, you are already familiar with Laura Doherty. She is the
director of Wiggleworms and has been teaching there for more than
Her new CD is wonderful and as her press materials state, this
CD is for the "urban toddler," though children and parents
everywhere will delight in these songs. Using Chicago as her
inspiration, the CD is filled with fabulous songs about
skyscrapers, the L and the zoo.
The first time I heard "Kids In The City" it reminded me of a
cross between Laurie Berkner and Ella Jenkins. Pick up the CD, give
a listen and see if you agree.
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.
Fred Koch writes about music every month for Chicago Parent.
See more of Fred's stories here.
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