Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Happy Story of a Family Company's 30th Year in Children's Music

     Once upon a time, in a tiny studio, in a tiny home, in the tiny town of Arcata, CA,  Lisa Monet sat down with her guitar to record her arrangements of the songs sung at her son Matthew's Children of the Redwoods daycare.                                                               
It all started in a tiny home, much like this one!

     With the expertise of a resident engineer---her husband and co-producer, Rick---this home-spun recording got a wide and warm welcome.  Fellow parents and teachers, hearing it for the first time, wanted to have it for their own families to sing and play along with.
      
     Happy Birthday, Circle Time!! Thirty years ago as of December 2016, Circle Time, Songs & Rhymes for the Very Young, was born.  In the years to come, daughter Genevieve was born, and Circle Time would receive a national award, be referenced in educational publications and be joined by five more best-selling albums of original, traditional and bilingual children's songs.   Preview them here!  You'll find a celebratory 30% discount offer during this 30th anniversary occasion!

     THIRTY YEARS!!  Many thanks to the countless families, businesses and educators that have supported Circle Time, and to everyone happily discovering anew this timeless collection.  Much loved are the stories of children growing up with this music and of these albums being much-requested favorites at home, in the car and in the classroom.                                                                            
Warm wishes from our family to yours, Lisa, Genevieve, Rick and Matthew

     May Circle Time and the whole collection keep finding their way to gatherings around the world where young and old sing and play together. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Magical, Musical Wintertime Wishes

     Greetings of Joy, Faith, and Love to you this holiday season!  You might enjoy with me an online Advent Calendar especially for the young at heart.  You can start any time to click on the numbers for each day leading up to Christmas, then scroll down to explore links to the songs, stories, art activities and games.
                                                                 
Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracher Suite" has been a favorite since my childhood.
     Very sweet and fun, and all thanks to one of my favorite kid-based sites, Activity Village:
     Find their Advent Calendar here: .http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/advent-calendar-2015

     I'll be taking the rest of the month off, giving my attention to some health concerns and getting plenty of rest and TLC.

     Until next time,
     ♫  Lisa

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

      Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving brimming with tasty treats, peaceful moments and time to enjoy the beauty all around.   ♥
                                                                                         
Daughter G's photo of the Farmstand down our road



                                                   
         
                                                                                

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

52 Days on a Freighter from L.A. to Buenos Aires

     Do you ever get a whiff of something that brings up a memory from your childhood?  My daughter, while visiting recently, suddenly exclaimed, "I smell Gramma's house right now!"  She was standing in the hall, outside our bedrooms; 550 miles from her G'ma's house.  "That's so amazing," I said, "because I sometimes smell my gramma's house here!"  Cozy, warm, happy-memories was what we were both smelling.
                                                         
My dad must have taken this of me, (nearest the water) mom, and fellow ship-mates.
     The olfactory sense can easily evoke memories.  I remember first learning about that after a childhood ocean voyage.  My family of five made up half of the passengers on a freighter bound from California to Argentina in the 60s.  We stopped at many ports along the way.  The smell of docks and diesel brings up for me, to this day, so many exotic memories of that trip.

     Sometime during that almost-2-month floating sojourn, I gained the camaraderie and confidence of the steward.  Bill Hawkins, a kind and patient man, knew I was fascinated by the ringing tones of his four-bar hand-held instrument that summoned the passengers to meals. Wherever we were on the ship, those chimes, with a pavlovian effect, would bring us hungry diners eagerly up and in to the dining room. The silver sound tubes and their charming chimes were pure magic to me.  I longed to feel the instrument in my hands and the vibrations they made.  Such power it held----to call people forth with its tonal patterns reverberating down the hall!

     Thanks to Bill, the steward, I was allowed to "help" with that part of his job.  I became the dinner bell ringer.  I struck the bars of silver that brought the happy, hungry diners to mealtimes.   My 11 year old self reveled in the pleasure and power of it all.

     When the freighter delivered us to our final port, I had to give Bill back his chimes.  It wasn't long though, until another instrument won my heart: my first guitar which my mother helped me find and buy in a music shop in Buenos Aires.   I've loved playing the guitar ever since.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to Play the "Unstick that Stuck Song" Game

     Last week I wrote about what to do when we get songs stuck in our heads.  I mentioned a couple techniques for getting them out.  I also included a link to a song that is good to have spring into your mind, "Stop, Look and Listen" for safe street-crossing, and alert readers pointed out that it's good for all ages!
                                                         
Going where no song-thinker has gone before!
     I came up with a game that is guaranteed to get a stuck song out and make it stay out.  It can be played solo or with others.  Points awarded to the player who comes up with the most songs within an agreed upon time limit.  Solo players, give yourself bonus points just for "effort", no matter the time!.  Here are the rules.

     Name a song, any song.  Take the first two notes and use those notes to think of another song that starts with those same two notes, either forwards or backwards.

     Example:  Start with the song Yesterday.  Think of the first two notes, "Yes-ter-day..."  (the second two syllables beng the same note.)  Now use those two notes to start Danke Schoen, simply reversing the two notes, "Dan-ke-schoen..." and then What a Wonderful World, "I see....".  And then In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning "In the...."

     One or both notes can be repeated, as long as it's only those two notes used to start the next song.  The key can change, depending on the song----that doesn't matter.

     It's a challenge!  It's brain exercise!  It takes some practice, but stay with me!!--- you get the hang of it and can "play" it anywhere.  I enjoy practicing this in my head, going a few rounds until, down the road, it's happened again and I've got another refrain stuck in there.  I challenge you to try it!  Take any song's first two notes, and see how many other songs you can plug into this game!

     Try it with Michele.  Those first two notes are the same as in Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head (remember you can duplicate one of the two main notes), and in One Hand, One Heart "Make of our hearts..." (West Side Story)

     Here are others that start with the same two notes:: Morning has Broken,  Softly as I Leave You, Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me

     What else can you come up with?  Let me know how it goes!

     


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Got a song stuck in your head? Want to make it stop?

     You know, that chorus or solo or lead line that keeps running through your mind.  It can be maddening. It happens to me all the time.  It seems that the one that gets stuck in my head is the last one I heard.  It will go round-and-round until I do something about it.  Like shout (in my head usually, but sometimes aloud) Stop!!
Stop!!  As in, get that song out of my head now!

     Another technique I've found helpful is to switch to another song.  It takes practice, and it's helpful to have a stash of songs to go to, ones that are personally spirit-lifting and inspiring.  For me, this list encompasses old hymns from my childhood, new upbeat ones found online or from friends, and silly, happy made-up verses to old familiar tunes.

      I have a third technique which I guarantee works every time. Since it takes a bit of explaining and requires some effort----all worthwhile and actually fun, I promise!---I'm going to make it the subject for my next week's music blog. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a song I wrote to help young children learn the skill of safe street-crossing, Stop, Look and Listen! My adult daughter tells me that it automatically pops into her head to this day when she's crossing a busy street. Mom's mission accomplished! :D

p.s. Thanks to Deborah Giraud on facebook for giving me the idea for my music blog post this week. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Red Grammer in Concert

     And it's tomorrow, Thursday the 29th!!  If there's any chance you're in the Eureka, CA area and can take a child or a group----or just yourself-----I highly recommend it.  Oct. 29, 2015, 10:00am in the new Sequoia Center at Humboldt County Office of Education.                                                             
Red Grammer
     I've had the privilege of joining Red in concert.  He's the real deal.  An enormously gifted singer/songwriter, a dynamic advocate for children and families and just a wonderful, big-hearted person.

     We're lucky to get him in our area.   Thanks to Holly Sage and her production team!