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Lively celtic music for kids

May 2005

My 8-year-old has expressed interest in Celtic music. In particular, she seems to like the lively variety, with the drums and tinpipes, the jigs and reels. A check on Amazon reveals what looks like a lot of slower, mystical stuff, which is beautiful, but you can't dance to it. I'm just clueless as to where to start. Can anyone out there suggest a good CD or two to get us started? Thanks! Julie T.


We listen to lots of celtic/irish music here at our house, none of it is specifically for children, but my kids LOVE it, and it's definitely dance-able. Here are some bands/ CD titles:

Orla and the Gas Men -- Minding Mice At Crossroads (my current favorite -- it's in my car CD player as we speak) The Lonely Stranded Band -- self titled CD, subtitled: Traditional Irish Music and Song from Charlie Piggott, Miriam Collins, and Joe Corcoran The Lahawns -- Live at Winkles (because it's a live album, it's a little different/less child-friendly than others) Sharon Shannon -- self titled CD. She's very popular, and there are probably lots of CDs by her out there, so anyone would probably do. The Chieftans -- Celtic Wedding We also have one by a band called Dervish, that I can't find and I can't remember the name, but it's AWESOME. VERY lively.

We have others, but this is a good start.

FYI, my mom and dad own an Irish pub up in Sonoma -- Murphy's Irish Pub -- and they have live music Thursday through Sunday. Not all of it is Irish, but you can go to their website to view a schedule (I think) at http://www.sterba.com/sonoma/ murphy/ and take your daughter to hear some. It's a restaurant also, so kids are welcome -- it's not a 21 and over crowd at all. I bring my own kids there, which is probably where they learned to love this kind of music. It's not terribly close, but it's probably more family friendly than other live music venues you would find closer to home. Some of the bands I listed above have played at the pub, too!

I'm always happy to spread the good word about celtic music, so I hope you find/ enjoy some of these CDs. Monica


I don't have any specific recommendations, but I did turn up quite a few things on Amazon doing a search on the word ''reels'' ( a type of dance), then following Amazon's ''more like this'' feature. I think ''celtic'' has turned into a code word for mellow in recent years, and most of the things I found were described as Irish or Scottish instead. From you comments, dance music seems the way to go. Carrie
I recommend that you go to Down Home Music in El Cerrito (san Pablo Ave) and check out their great collection. They'll let you listen before you buy. I really like to lisdten to several of the CDs from Alisdair Fraser(sp?) - great for hopping fiddle music. Very lively and up beat. - anon
They're not specifically geared towards kids, but the Wicked Tinkers (http://www.wickedtinkers.com/) are definitely lively - primarily bagpipes and drums, lots of energy and fun. They do school assemblies, so they're reasonably kid-friendly. As it turns out, I just looked their calendar and they'll be at the Livermore Highland Games (http://www.livermoregames.com/) next weekend (May 14 & 15). Probably a good place to check out more celtic music as well. In general, if you're looking for dance- able stuff look for jigs, reels, flings, that sort of thing on labels. Jeni
I'd highly recommend Silly Wizard for kids and grownups alike. I''ve loved them for decades. They do have a few slower numbers (which are beautiful), but most of their stuff is up-tempo and will keep your kids dancing. Their ''best of'' cd is great, but don't neglect their others albums. Ann
I don't have any CD recommendations, but Ardenwood East Bay Regional Park is having a Celtic Festival on Saturday, June 11th. Your little Celtic music fan may enjoy this event and I'm sure some of the bands would have CDs for sale at the Festival. Check out: http://www.ardenwood-celtic-festival.com/index2.html - Sharon
First of all, go to Down Home Music on San Pablo Ave in El Cerrito (close to Stockton). They are very knowledgeable, and they have an extensive collection. I personally like high energy Celtic music groups with some vocals, like the Chieftains and the Tannahill Weavers. Some verge on rock n roll, like the Corrs, and Wake the Dead does Grateful Dead covers mixed with jigs and reels. You can probably get all those groups' CDs on Amazon. I also like Glen Morgan on hammer dulcimer. There are many, many others.

Next, check out www.freightandsalvage.org. This is a Berkeley coffeehouse music venue (no alcohol) that has several bands a month that play Irish/Scottish/Breton/oldtimey etc. They have some Sunday afternoon concerts for kids, but people are welcome to bring kids (usually about 8 years old and up) to concerts at 8 PM. The website lets you listen to sample songs from upcoming groups, and you'll see many wonderful local groups there as well.

In the long run, you'll figure out who you like to listen to by hearing groups perform. I've bought CDs at the Freight, at the Renaissance Faire, at the Scottish Games at Dunsmuir House, etc.

In Berkeley at the Starry Plough on Shattuck (south of Ashby a few blocks) you can take your kids for fish and chips, and you can have a pint in a smokeless atmosphere, while you listen to a free live Irish music session every Sunday night. Many of the same people come back and play Monday when they teach Irish dancing for free-- it's a little late for a school night, though.

Finally, check out the San Francisco Folk Music Club online at www.sffmc.org. For the cost of a year's membership (about $10) they will send you a newsletter that lists all kinds of music things going on in the Bay Area, from contradances to concerts to monthly sing-along parties, to family camping weekends with musicians. The newsletter also has many reviews of CDs with a lot of helpful description.

There are also Scottish or Irish dance class schools for young children in San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Peninsula. For older children, you might want to sign up for recorder lessons-- through the city recreation departments or the schools.

Good for you to encourage an interest in music! peg


I'd recommend the debut CD by the Irish group Solas. It has some slow ballads among many lively tunes with neat beats on the traditional frame drum, the bodhran. Also take your kid to see some live Scottish music, as the Highland games season is in full swing in California. The next one will be in Livermore the weekend of 5/14 (www.livermoregames.com/). It's not just pipes and drums; there are fiddlers and harpists, too. For more, check out the Western United States Pipe Band Association website at www.wuspba.org/events.html. The merchants at the games will have many musical instruments and CDs. Slainte! Sean
I asked a friend of mine for recommendations (she is half of the harp duo Woadharps, www.woadharps.com). She highly recommended Fire and Grace by Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (available on Amazon). In tracking down the CD, I also found the website of the company that produced it, http://www.culburnie.com/, which seems to specialize in Scottish music. Carrie
For fun Celtic music try one of the Putumayo compilation CDs. Also, FYI the historic Ardenwood Farm in Fremont is hosting a Celtic music festival on June 11th. Check out the Ardenwood website for more info. Cherise
I am a **huge** Celtic music fan, and can recommend many fine groups which play uptempo music a child might enjoy: Altan, Dervish, Solas, Old Blind Dogs among others. The Freight and Salvage (website www.thefreight.org) has many good Celtic music concerts, and kids of all ages are welcome. If you go to The Freight's web site, you can find sample songs of some upcoming shows. Old Blind Dogs is playing at The Freight next week, in fact. I will be at Wednesday's show (but probably without my son, who is 5 months old and not a Celtic music fan yet). Email me if you want to go with me. Also, every September, there's a great Celtic music festival, again very kid-friendly, up in Sebastopol. Their web site is here: http://www.cumuluspresents.com/celtic/index.html Lori

Fun music for 2.5 year old

Oct 2004

I am looking for recommendations for fun recorded music for my child who is 2.5 years. She has enjoyed Music Together and we also listen to Raffi and the Wiggles, but I would love some new ideas. I know there is great music out there for young children. Thank you! Toddler loves to sing & dance


Our 2 y.o. is also a Music Together kid, and we love ALL Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner, Gunnar Madsen and Ralph's World (Ralph Covert). If I had to pick 2 CDs, I'd pick Victor Vito by Laurie Berkner and Night Time by Dan Zanes, but you really can't go wrong with any of the above. Debbie
Good musicianship and intonation, as well as fun, were a priority for us! We bought re-issued CDs or made cassettes of Peter, Paul & Mary, Burl Ives, and the Kingston Trio that our daughter has loved. She was also in a program called Music Time that taught a repertoire of wonderful learning songs, and issued cassettes. As far as I know, Jon at Jon's School of Music (www.jsom.com) is now teaching this curriculum. Enjoy!
My grandmother just sent my son a 4-cd set called ''101 Toddler Favorites''. He loves it! It's from a company called Music For Little People and i checked out their website and they have many choices - www.mflp.com My son also likes the children's albums by Dan Zanes. EB
Yahoo has an entire section on children's music and children's music performers (http://dir.yahoo.com/Entertainment/Music/Artists/By_Genre/Child ren_s/). I am unfamiliar with some of the performers/groups listed there and the list does not include Ella Jenkins whom I have always thought of as one of the premiere music makers for children, so I am not sure how good the list is. Ella has her own website (http://www.ellajenkins.com/) from which it is possible to order her albums--she is wonderful and children love her and her music.

For live music and performance for kids, the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley offers a concert series, Sundays at 4. These concerts feature a classical chamber-music repertoire by prominent Bay Area musicians, not children's music per se, but the programs are designed to be family-length & family-friendly and children (up to 18) are free. The 2004-05 schedule is posted in the calendar section at http://www.crowdenmusiccenter.org and you can e- mail ''concerts@thecrowdenschool.org'' to get on the list to receive announcements and concert reminders via e-mail.

Crowden also offers ''Music Together'' and ''Music for Children'' (Orff Schulwerk, Kodaly) classes for very young children in addition to individual lessons and a host of beginning/exploratory music classes for ages 6 and up. Fran


We like Dan Zanes (House Party, Rocket Ship Beach) and the Putumayo brand World Playground series. Music Lover
Hi - our daughter (and we) love all the Laurie Berkner cds - they are readily available and are all terrific. Ioana
I am interested in other recommendations but my 2 1/2 year old son's current favorite it ''Free to be you and me'' by Marlo Thomas and friends (I believe). I remember listening to it when I was a kid so it is an oldie but goodie. He also likes Woodie Guthrie songs for young people or something like that. ilfeld
My friend Lane makes great, inventive music for kids. My 16mo is already a fan. Plus, his music appeals to grownups, too - I've been at parties where kids and adults alike boogied down when his music was playing. His CD ''Bulldozers & Bugs'' is a good mix of fun original tunes like ''Hug a Bug'' and adaptations of old favorites like The Rascals' ''A Beautiful Morning.'' More info/purchase at CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lanem Jeni
I can't wait to read the other recommendations you receive! In my quest for music that both my toddler and I will listen to over and over and over and over again without getting sick of, I have discovered Ralph's World. I believe he has about 4 different CDs. LOVE IT! -I don't think Fruit Salad is all that yummy.
Gymboree has some great music CD's that are used in class. They represent lots of different musical styles including Cajun- Zydeco, Rhythm & Blues, African, etc. They also have CD's of Parachute Express that does wonderful children's music (without being too sing-songy!). They can be purchased at the play centers or possibly through www.gymboree.com. Judy
Dan Zanes!! especially the CDs ''Rocket Ship Beach'' and ''Family Dance'' Made for children and adults to enjoy together. Chris
Our favorites for the last couple of years have been anything by Dan Zanes--Rocketship Beach, Family Dance, etc. More recently we discovered Philadelphia Chickens, silly music from Sandra Boynton and friends. Kitrena
For great kid's music (that won't drive you insane) you can't go wrong with any of the Dan Zanes cds. He's a former rock musician (lead man of the Del Fuegos -- remember them?) who plays a great mix of his own songs, american folk tunes and traditional music from around the world. As an added bonus, the cds feature lots of famous and familiar voices and are packaged in board books with great art. Our current favorite is ''House Party.'' You can hear samples at his website -- www.festivalfive.com. mom of a rabid Dan fan
We have had a lot of fun finding alternatives to Raffi. Current favorite: Jazz for Kids (Verve)-- if you have to listen to Old McDonald, Ella Fitzgerald is the way to go. Also, Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens (Louis Jordan) and What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong). We found it at Hear Music in Berkeley -- they will let you listen to every CD in the store. The Ellipsis Arts series of Lullabies from around the world (African Lullabies, Cuban Lullabies, etc). Taj Mahal has a CD called Shake Sugaree. Tish Hinojosa has a bilingual CD Cada Nino/Every Child. Keb Mo' has Big Wide Grin.

Woody Guthrie's songs are great sing-alongs. One CD to check out is Woody's 20 Grow Big Songs. Jose Luis Orozco is local and has a near cult following (with reason). I don't have a recommendation of one CD over the others, maybe someone else has given this more thought. Definitely, watch for the announcement of his annual kids' concert in Berkeley.

Oh, then there's the old standard Peter, Paul and Mommy (although we listen to their second CD, Peter, Paul and Mommy Too, more often because we like the slightly blood thirsty The Fox and the Chilly Night). There's also a concert video. And then, there is non-kid music which has become popular with our 3 and a half year old (although I don't think he really understands the songs The Sinking of the Reuben James and Deportee) so I recommend continuing to fight for playing time for non-kid music, too. Thanks for a great question! I'm looking forward to the other responses. music junkie


Anything by Dan Zanes. My 18 month old daughter has been enjoying his CDs since she was a newborn, but loves them much more since she has been able to dance and sing to them. We particularly like House Party and Rocketship Beach. Check out the reviews on Amazon. felicia
Great responses all! But one name was missing from the recommendations you received . . . Tim Cain! Tim is a resident of Marin County and former member of 60's rock group 'the Sons of Champlin'. We attended several of his ''kids concerts'' -- casual sing-a-longs -- when our daughter was younger. She still loves Tim. Check out his website at www.timcain.com. Also, another artist is ''Wendee'' from So Cal. Her ''Animal Dance'' CD is a blast. Very upbeat and easy to sing along with. Every child we've played this for is hooked! Wendee is available at www.amazon.com. and www.wendeesmusic.com. amy

Classical music for 12-year-old

April 2004

My soon to be 12 year old son loves the Beethoven's 9th Symphony cd he received for Christmas, so much so that he walks around the house wearing headphones and singing (phonetically, of course) the choral portion of Ode to Joy. I know NOTHING about classical music but I would like to encourage his interest by getting him some more cds. Any recommendations? susan


Your 12-year-old son likes Beethoven's 9th symphony, and you want to know where to go from there. This is a wide-open question, and it's hard to know where to start, as so much depends on your son's likes and dislikes. It is encouraging that he likes this Beethoven symphony, as it shows that he has the attention span required to listen repeatedly to a piece of music that's over an hour long. That kind of patience will help him discover classical music in some depth.

Since he goes around singing the choral part of the Beethoven symphony, one obvious direction to go is more choral music. There's nothing else quite like Beethoven's ''Ode to Joy'' theme, but I'd recommend Mozart's Requiem and Mozart's Mass in C minor, Haydn's Nelson Mass, Schubert's Mass in E flat (No. 6), Brahms's German Requiem, Berlioz's Requiem, Verdi's Requiem, Mahler's Symphony #2, and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. If he likes the Mahler then you'll know he's hooked for life.

Another direction to take is more symphonies. Beethoven wrote nine of them, and they are all masterpieces. But the first eight are just instrumental, with no singing. I recommend getting a full set, but if you prefer to branch out slowly then I'd start with #3, #5, and #6. If he likes these then branch out to more Beethoven (the five piano concertos, the violin concerto), Mozart (symphonies 39-41), Haydn (the London symphonies), Schubert (the 9th symphony), Mendelssohn (symphonies 3-4), and Tchaikovsky (symphonies 4-6).

There are vast other worlds of classical music out there, but this might get you started.

Then there's the problem of how actually to buy this music. There are so many recordings of each piece. Which one to get, and from where? There's a wide range in both price and quality, and price and quality don't necessarily correlate. These days, you can't rely on store salespeople for any intelligent guidance through the classical section. I usually point beginners to Naxos (www.naxos.com). It's a great budget label that really takes classical music seriously, and it's almost always a safe bet. Their CDs cost $7 or so and are often in a section by themselves in stores. At least with Naxos you won't make the mistake of paying $18 for a pedestrian performance, which is a lot more common than you might think.

There's much more to say, but it all depends on what triggers your son's interest. I hope he has the same experience I had when I was that age (and with parents who were baffled by it).

Good luck, Christopher


Good for your son! I was also into classical music when I was his age. Here are a few pieces that I liked at the time:
*These are a little more restrained but I loved them as a child*:
Mozart- symphonies #38-41 (incl. ''Prague'', ''Jupiter'')
Mozart- horn concertos 
Bach- Brandenberg Concertos

*If you want to stick to Beethoven*:
''Appassionata'' and ''moonlight'' sonatas (solo piano)
Beethoven symphony #5 (starts with famous, dramatic theme in 
minor key)
Beethoven symphony #6 ''Pastoral''
Beethoven symphony #7
Beethoven ''Kreutzer'' sonata (for piano and violin)
Beethoven symphony #6 ''Pastoral''
Beethoven piano concertos #4 and #5 (''Emperor'')

*Other choral/vocal*:
Handel- Messiah
Bach- Magnificat
Mahler- Songs of a Wayfarer

*Other orchestral/concerto*:
Mussorgsky- Pictures at an Exhibition
Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue
Rimsky-Korsakov- Scheherazade 

*Other solo piano*:
Chopin- nocturnes
Brahms- intermezzi
Many of these will be available at a public library so that you can see whether he likes something before making an investment. Anne
Go to the Musical Offering in Berkeley, on Bancroft across from Lower Sproul, and ask the staff there for their advice. Fantastic little classical music store.

Also, would your son enjoy singing in a choir? Many school and community chorus opportunities exist, even for kids with no prior musical training. There are *so* many benefits to that kind of experience, it's really worth your while to investigate and encourage. Lifelong amateur musician


How about Beethoven's other 8 symphonies. Music lover
Don't have any CD recommendations, but you might be interested to know that the California Symphony is scheduled to perform Beethoven's 9th in Walnut Creek in May. http://www.californiasymphony.org/program-5.html. KMS
Vivaldi - The Four Seasons and Mozart. And if he really gets into it, piano lessons (on a real piano if you can). Being able to play the piano will open up a whole new world to him of musical instruments - if he wants to play. Also, 'don't know if you live in Brk or Oakland, but the Oakland Symphony does a variety of shows geared towards kids or encouraging local kids to come and play with the symphony. They have a brilliant director who is very community oriented and the tickets are very reasonable. Classical Music Mommy

Pop music for a 7-yr-old girl

April 2004

My daughter is hankering for some more big-girl type pop music. I'm a bit out of touch with what's cool, although we have a good record collection and have mined it on her behalf. What I don't want is to introduce her prematurely to a lot of precociously ''sexy'' themes/self-presentation. I saw the recommedations on the website re The Spice Girls, but does anyone have any other ideas? She seems to be more interested in female singers than male, and wants ''danceable'' music. cautious but open-minded


We (9 yr. old and 43 yr. old) like Avril Lavigne, Sheryl Crow, Penelope Houston, Norah Jones, Hilary Duff... You get the idea. And Dan Zanes. anon
hi, try the ''cheetah girls'' soundtrack, it doesn't have a lot of songs but i know young girls like it. also, mandy moore is a safe bet, she's (in my opinion) one of the most poised and thoughtful young female pop stars today. her latest cd - ''coverage'' are remakes of old hits you may be familiar with. And the most heated she gets is ''i have a crush on you'' - no rubbing or bumping from her! Disney also regularly produces ''young'' pop stars that are less well known to the general public- but i bet you can find them on their website. pop music can be fun !
Try Avril Lavigne. My 8yr old really likes it and Avril is a much more positive (i.e. non-Brittney) role model. We all sing along to ''Sk8terboi. Her other favorites that we can all listen to include: rolling stones, chery crow, dixie chicks, indigo girls and nelly furtado. She has recently discovered RadioDisney (1310 a.m.), but I can't stand it. music mom

Cool female vocalists for 7-yr-old girl

Jan 2003

Help! I need recommendations for (anti-Britney) music for my seven-year old girl. My tastes run to the 17th century and to blues, salsa, and Celtic--all of which my daughter likes. But she is beginning to understand ''cool'', ''hip'', and hears a bit of music from friends and cousins. I would love to turn her on to good (read: not Britney, Baha Men, etc.--ugh) current female artists (rock,pop) who sing about things other than boys and dogs. Thanks! Linda


Hi, I'm sure you'll be getting many recommendations, but here are mine (have 7 yr. old daughter too, and 3 yr. old son). Dan Zanes!!! He has 3 cds out, working on a 4th, used to be in the Del Fuegos, always has lots of great guest artists on his cds. We all love his music, particularly a duet w/Sandra Bernhardt about thrift store shopping. My son of course could care less, but I think Avril Lavigne is a good anti-Britney. She's only 16 or 17 so hopefully her songs will mature as she does. Have fun! Mom who loves Dan Zanes' Music
One website that could help guide you and your daughter a bit is www.allmusic.com. If you know an artist or a band that she likes, you can search for them and then it will give other artists that are similar to them.

Some cool female musicians and girl bands she might check out are:

Ani Difranco (folksy, rock, good feminist messages.  Has her own 
label, plays all her music, etc.)
Luscious Jackson (kind of indie pop, kind of hip-hop.  All girl 
band)
Bjork (used to be in the Sugarcubes, now a solo artist)
Cibo Mato (all girl band from Japan. pop)
Lisa Loeb (pop.  Lots of adolescent girls like her)
Sleater-Kinney (rock.  all girl band)
In a more folksy, singer songwriter vein...
Shawn Colvin, Michelle Shocked, Suzanne Vega, Lucinda Williams, 
Aimee Mann, Beth Orton
She might also like more mainstream stuff like No Doubt or Avril or Jewel, which I'm sure she's heard on the radio. There's so much more, but that's probably overwhelming enough. wmollard
We are all really liking the soundtrack to Legally Blonde. Some sample lyrics from a soul-ly number ''Don't need you to tell me I'm pretty/to make me feel beautiful'' From a hard rocker: ''I am everything that I wanna be/I am confidence and security/I am a voice yet waiting to be heard/ I shoot the shot-bang-that you hear round the world/and i'm a one-girl revolution'' As you can tell, I've heard these several thousand times. It grows on you, and is very girl-hip. Valerie
I'm not quite as hip as I used to be, but here are some good ones:
Pink
No Doubt
India Irie (REALLY good message in a song about learning to love yourself)
Hope that helps! Jill
There is some really good ''cool girl music'' out right now. My 7 and 10 year old daughters love Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch. Both are very conservative (unlike Britney and Christina) and do not sing about sex! They do sing about boys but in an innocent manner. Vanessa Carlton is a pianist and writes her own music. Michelle Branch also writes her own music and plays guitar. I think they are much better role models then other choices and they also dress ''normal''. If your daughter likes pop music and you want something that won't be dirty or to mature then this is a good compromise. Dana
No Doubt has a very cool singer, Gwen Stefani. Michelle Branch is talented, Erykah Badu is great, and Norah Jones a wonder. They all sing about boys, sometimes, though. Does that automatically exclude them from your approval? PLEASE do not censor your daughter’s music! I can understand that you wouldn't want your 7 year old listening to sexually explicit lyrics. But outside of that, are you really going to try to ban bubble gum pop a la Britney? Just because a girl listens to pop songs doesn't mean she's going to grow up to be a twit. Growing up, my friends and I listened to all types of music, including pop. And we all grew up to be deep [;)], highly educated women with non-fluffy careers, working with the indigent, victims of crime, in medicine, and to save the environment. Music is essential to life. Restricting your daughter to certain, mom- approved genres would be like letting your child breathe only on odd-numbered days. So go ahead, crank up that Ketchup song, and have fun dancing with your daughter around the house! The D.J.

Nice music for infant

December 2001

Could folks recommend some good children's music that is not too maddening for Mom to listen to? I have a 7-month old. Also if you have ideas for where I might find your recommendations used or otherwise inexpensively? any ideas much appreciated. thanks -- Anon


My personal favorite is the Putumayo "World Playground" collection. --L. C.
Some music we (infant/child and parents alike) have really enjoyed: "Latin Lullabies" and "Lullabies for Little Dreamers" for naps and bedtime; "Cool Jazz Cats"; "Reggae for Kids". Enjoy! Pamela
Try Kathy Kallick: Use your Napkin, not your Mom and What do you Dream about Baby. II think that's the title. Also 1, 2, 3 for Kids by the Chenille Sisters. Taj Mahal also has a CD out for kids. These are available at Down Home Music in El Cerrito. They have a wonderful selection of kids' music, and I think they let you listen before you buy. Jamie

More Reviews

I highly recommend Music for Little People for inspiration (http://www.musicforlittlepeople.com ).

We've gotten some wonderful cd's from them. Pete Seeger, David Grisman, and Los Lobos are favorites with all of us. My kids (7 and 2) have recently latched onto Dave Alvin's latest cd (Public Domain) which is not aimed at all at children, in fact is quite dark and serious, but they love many of the songs and will clamor for them in the car. Music appreciation is big in our lives and my husband and I have always played music that we enjoyed, the kids along the way have developed quite eclectic tastes, from folk and bluegrass, classical, and rock.

Good Luck! Natasha


A great place for used children's records, tapes and CDs is Toy-Go-Round on Solano Ave. in Albany. They have a great selection LO
We received "Sleep, Baby, Sleep" by Nicolette Larson as a gift when our son was born. He loved it, and still does to this day, especially as part of his goodnight routine. My son is 14 months old now. By now, you have probably heard some Raffi music. If his songs are up your alley, we really like "One Light, One Sun." Have fun. May we suggest you have friends burn some of their CD's for you? That makes music very reasonably priced. jenny
Re Good music - I understand the need for good music - after one 1500 mile trip with my daughter, my brother and his girlfriend, we, all five of us, emerged with a tendency to break into a chorus at the slightest encouragement eg "Ducks like RAIN, ducks like RAIN, ducks like to widdle-waddle IN the RAIN..." It has a strange effect on your social life. Anyway, Raffi (the Canadian) was a winner and had several tapes out when my kids were small - the tapes were short so we did some sharing and copying onto longer tapes with friends to make something that lasted for long car trips. I found "Wee Sing" to be abominable - although I believe there are people that like it. Woody Guthrie songs are of course simple and good. My daughter got fascinated with video musicals and we transferred the music part of the soundtrack of "Sound of Music" to tape. She also loved the Carnival of the Animals. W! e ! also had a number of tapes put out by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Franciscus Henri, Playschool) who also did a collection of lullabies (they're available on the web, but would probably be too Aussie for the unitiated.) What I liked about them was that they sang in tune. Many "kids" tapes mistakenly feature adults and/or kids singing horribly out of tune, as if kids and their parents deserved really second-rate music. Babies vary a lot in what they like though - the most effective lullaby for my daughter at six months was heavy metal rock music. Just keep trying stuff that YOU like and you'll find some winners.

In terms of cost - the public library has tapes and cds you can borrow to try. You'll want your own, though, if she likes it, because when babies like things they like them OVER and OVER. We were given some second-hand tapes of stories (Horton the Elephant and Ali Baba) which were very popular with our kids for a year or so, but didn't last the distance, finally spaghettifying our tape player and causing disappointed howls and screams from the back seat. So new is best, given how much wear they'll get. If you can duplicate old worn out tapes though, that might work well. Cds don't have as much of this problem. fiona


My 2 year old has really enjoyed a compilation of music for children by Music for Little People, and the album is their 15th Anniversary Celebration. It has a really nice eclectic of music by some fairly well-known artists including Buckwheat Zydeco, Maria Muldaur, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, John McCutcheon, Sweet Honey on the Rock, etc. We've enjoyed it a lot. I also just got her a Tom Chapin CD which she has been requesting to hear quite a bit. I don't remember the name but it has a song on it called "This Pretty Planet." We're also a fan of Phil Rosenthal who did a folksongs and bluegrass for children album. I was also on Amazon.com recently looking at children's music. They have a great selection and some of the CDs you can buy used. If you have the technology for this, you can also download some music for their site and they have a whole list of children's music that c! an! be downloaded for free. Good luck! Hannah
Free to be you and me juli
Betsy Rose has a lovely CD/tape out for children, and Raffi's tapes are wonderful too. Peter, Paul and Mary have a great tape for kids with Puff the Magic Dragon. I know what you mean about the kid's music out there in general...and I never played any of those for my child. I wanted him to hear REAL music from the get go, so in addition to some very select children's tapes, I played all kinds of music for him from Native American flute and drums to Celtic musice, and now at 9 yrs of age he loves a very diverse span of music. I don't know why some people think kid's music needs to be silly for them to enjoy it. jody
Disney Radio if you can get it to come in. My daughter loves it. She's 8. They play a lot of music kids can dance around to (and sing along). My daughter also likes celtic music (we go to the Scottish gatherings a lot) which means the Coors (three sisters and a brother band, real big over in Europe). She pretty much likes everything we've exposed her to which is great as I don't have to listen to too much music I don't like.

Barnes and Nobles has a good music section for kids as well if you're looking for more juvenile songs like toddler or baby music. James Taylor and several other rock artists have albums out for children which you might enjoy. (I like House on Pooh Corner, very sweet).

Experiemnt witht he radio one day and see what your child responds to and have fun with it. marianne


Kid's Music I typed this list up for my mother's group a while back--hope it is useful:

Here are some names of singers I like who do kid's stuff, or are more "folksy" types of kids singers (many are "regular" singers with kid's albums, so you may want to be sure you're getting kid's songs in specific, if that is what you are looking for--I have some of their "other" albums, which are also nice, but not all are in the vein of kid's music):

My favorite is Priscilla Herdman--her voice is stunning. Her 3 most popular kids albums are Star Dreamer, Day Dreamer, and Moon Dreamer. I have all three, I just love her voice and the songs are lovely.

John McCutcheon is also great, I really love his stuff, including, Mail myself to you, The Best so far (or something)--greatest hits from before 1989--not a kids album per se, but with lots of kids songs on it, intermixed with others and I like that, AutumnSongs (he has the other 3 seasons on other CDs but we don't have these yet), etc.

Peter Alsop has a sort of satirical style (you have to sorta like that), with albums such as WhaD'ya wanna Do (may be for kids a bit older)

Bill Harley is also for kids a bit older, but is a wonderful storyteller as well as singer. I know him personally and think he is a wonderful person as well as performer. Can't remember titles at this moment, but hae has a great number.

Sally Rogers has a lovely voice and some nice "PC" types songs (not annoying, just espousing an eco-consciousness type values). Albums include At Quiet O'clock, Piggyback planet, etc.

I also really like Sarah Pirtle. Her albums can be hard to find, but really lovely in my book--and worth the trouble to find. Some include: The Wind is Telling Secrets, This Pretty Planet, Peace by Peace, etc.

Hap Palmer (We're on our Way), Ella Jenkins (many different ones, has a more "multicultural" sound) Sweet honey in the Rock (all for Freedom (?)) Kenny Rogers (More songs from Pooh Corner) Heather Forrest is a great storyteller and has some nice strong female characters in her tales Pete Seeger (I think that's his name--he's the brother of the more "popular" singer, so I may have mixed-up the names, will check on this) (can't think of titles off hand), Tom Chapin (Moonboat, Family Garden), The Roaches--Scott loves the song Uncle Dave, he misbehaved (have to check on the album title) Rich Charlotte (alligator shoes, (I think that is what it is called))

All of the above are also in this "Folksy" vein. Nancy Griffith doesn't sing kids songs, but has a folksy lithe to her singing that would probably also work for kids.

I have heard great things about the PutaMayo (spelling?) collection--they emphasize differing styles of music on their various CDs, and they have a kid's CD now as well. Don't have any, but have heard they are great.

Along similar lines, we have really liked the Classical kids story collection--stories overlaid on appropriately included classical excerpts from specific composers. You have to be into listening to stories, they aren't just music, but our daughter has loved these CDs since she was a newborn. We got them as birth gifts, which is good because we never would have bought them for her because I thought they were too trendy in that way I tend to dislike. I have been proved wrong. Anyway, that should certianly get you started! Good Luck. As for places to find them, Half.com has lots of stuff like that relatively cheap. ZAlphaWolf


I have a low Wee Sing threshold, too Putumayo has 2 CDs of kid-friendly world music, both called World Playground. I found mine used at Rasputin's and I've also seen them at Hannah's on Solano. There's also a collection of lullabies put out by Ellipsis Arts: African Lullaby, Brazilian Lullaby, etc. that are quite easy to listen to. Another good lullaby CD is entitled "Lullaby: a Collection" which has songs by Bobby McFerrin, Loreena McKennit, Judy Collins and others; it's put out by Music for Little People and I've seen it at Rockridge Kids.

However, the hands-down favorite at our house (and in our car!) these days is the soundtrack from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Great for singing, jumping around, and generally getting silly. Jennifer


Anything by Ella Jenkins (Smithsonian label) or Nancy Raven, Sweet Honey and the Rock. I even enjoy Nancy Cassidy although you've got to be in the mood. Pete Seegar collection -- there is a children's music label that Hearthsong sells that is also good. The soundtrack from Shrek is great for older kids. Kelly
From: Kimberly (6/99)

Rosie Hippos catalogue has wonderous wooden toys books and a great selection of Real music for children (sweet honey and the rock, buckwheat zydeco, pete seeger, jimmy buffet etc etc). Their phone number is 1-800-385-2620.


From: Leah (6/99)

Jane Timberlake is a local songwriter who has four wonderful tapes: "Al the Alligator", "9 Green Fingers and 47 Toes", "Carpet of Dreams", and "Our Songs". Although their greatest appeal is with the over 3 set, my 27 month old son, Max (who is her grandson) loves them. They are silly, intelligent, and kindhearted songs many of which were inspired by living in the Berkeley/Oakland area. She use to be a head teacher at Step One Preschool, but now brings the joy of music to children by way of her "Singing Circles". Her singing circles are for groups of children ages 1 through 8. I'm not sure what stores carry her tapes, but you can call her at (510) 654-0322 if your interested in them, or if you want more info about "Singing Circles".


From: Natasha (12/98)

Someone wrote in recently, either to the UCB Parents or Virtual Village, asking about good music for kids. We are currently enjoying a CD called "The Earth is Our Home" by Robbie Dunbar, a local dad, a talented musician and a heck of a nice guy. (He is also the man everyone keeps recommending as a great piano teacher for kids). Robbie's music is like, well, Robbie: kid-friendly, humorous, kind, fun to be around (and it had better be, since we end up listening to it over and over and over again).

I just found out that Robbie will be performing at Gaia Bookstore this Saturday at 3:00. I think he'll be performing some of his own music, which blends folk, rock, and lullabies, as well as holiday music. Gaia is at 1400 Shattuck at Rose in Berkeley. I just called Gaia to confirm it, and they mentioned you can hear a sample of Robbie's music at www.mindfullmusic.com

Other music which is high on kid pleasure, low on saccharin content, and hold up to being played over and over: Greg Brown's CD "Bathtub Blues", anything by Burl Ives or Pete Seegar, Peter and the Wolf (version narrated by Sting or the one with Patrick Stewart), Smithsonian Folkway's children's music collection, Schoolhouse Rock, Capitol sings Kids Songs for Grownups, Prairie Lullaby (Joe Weed, Norton Buffalo, Bryan Bowers), Rhino Records' Cowboy Album, Little Richards' "Shake it All About" album. Two great sources for are Hear Music on 4th Street and Down Home Music on San Pablo. From: Leslie

For music, Gary Lapow has several tapes and CDs out that kids of all ages and even adults love. They are cute and many songs promote social awareness. Gary is local and performs throughout the Bay Area.


From: Duff

Concerning toddler CD's... There are loads of good ones out there. Our daughter (and we) particularly liked "Not for Kids Only" by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, and "On the Sunny Side" by Maria Muldaur and friends. Happy listening!


From: Leah

My personal favorite cds for kids are (actually, I think they're personal favorites for me as well): "Not for Kids Only" by Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, and Beausoleil's "Le Hoogie Boogie - Louisiana French Music for Children" I take one song on Beausoleil's cd, slow it way down, and sing it in English for the best lullabye ever. It's guaranteed. I forget the name of the tune, but you can change "Oh my pretty ladies" to "Oh my little baby" and if you have the cd you'll know what I'm talking about.


From: Trish

In response to the request for good local CD's of songs and music enjoyed by toddlers and babies. I especially recommend Sharon, Lois, and Bram (Canadian). They are a fabulous trio with great harmonies. We still sing them as a family and my kids are 8 & 13. Also Raffi (Canadian also) is good but his voice may be difficult to listen to for extended periods of time.


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