This is not a sponsored post and I have no financial affiliation with ‘Pathways to Music’, I’m just so darned impressed with them.
I’ve not had the time or energy lately to sustain reading a chapter book as bedtime reading to the girls. If you’ve been reading here for a while now you’ll know that Dan was also know as Chief Bedtime Reader and it all felt just…sad. We’ve still been reading every night, but not a fabulously fun chapter book over a week or so. I knew I had found exactly the right book to cure my lack of enthusiasm when I found ‘Dr Boogaloo and the Girl Who Lost Her Laughter’ by Lisa Nicol, published by Random House Australia. It’s the story of a little girl called Blue who has lost the ability to laugh and is sent by her dreadfully painful mother (it’s all about her!) to the Boogaloo Family Clinic of Musical Cures. Dr Boogaloo and his wife Bessie treat people with musical cures because, “Families who listen to lots of music very rarely fall ill, while families who never listen suffer terribly” (p. 6, ‘Dr Boogaloo and the Girl Who Lost Her Laughter’).
I cannot tell you how joyous it was to read a book full of heart and soul and music and I could not have chosen a more perfect bedtime story for the three Daley girls to read together. We laughed ourselves silly at the adorable chauffeur when he was squashed by a expensive stuffed horse, we scolded Blue’s parents for not paying her just some attention, imagined ourselves flying on Bessie’s musical iBike and cheered for the maids who studied for exams with Blue as tutor as they cleaned bathrooms. Most importantly, we discussed the music that we loved to listen to and how it made us feel, how the girls felt when they finally got the hang of a piece for piano and the music daddy had adored and what concerts he would like them to go to when they were older. As Bessie says in the book, “Music lets your heart fly. You can feel your heart flutter as soon as the music hits you…” (p.122, ‘Dr Boogaloo and the Girl Who Lost Her Laughter’).
As a family, we value and celebrate The Arts, and music in all it’s forms, from Australian hip hop to jazz, folk and classical. Having said that, I’ve not sung in choir for years and I gave up the piano and oboe some time ago – once I knew I was never going to be able to play ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’. But music is valued in our house and I want our children to ‘have a go’ and be immersed in song, rhythm, instrumental music and to enjoy the utter joy of live music events of every persuasion.
Pathways to Music, directed by Jen Teh, has become a really important and treasured part extra curricular activity, along with Pud attending Cuskelly College of Music Summer School each year in January. I love Jen’s ‘story’ on the the Pathways website here and she wrote the most beautiful piece for me some years ago now on the importance of song, which you can read here.
The girls learn piano with Mark Hooper, who is one of the most gifted teachers I have ever had the pleasure to experience. He has transformed the way I look at instrumental music lessons and I could rave for days about what he has managed to achieve with my two small ferals this year; he was outstanding when Dan passed away. Outstanding.
Mark Hooper studied piano at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, the Royal College of Music, London and The Banff Centre, Canada. An accomplished international performer and teacher, Mark’s career has included teaching piano at Oxford University, performing in concerts worldwide and working closely with renowned composers such as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Steve Reich. Mark has also released five solo CDs. Mark shares his joy and passion for the piano in private lessons that are tailored to each individual student. Students of all ages love Mark’s warm and engaging approach. (More here).
Pathways to Music offers classes for all ages, from early childhood, to primary and secondary school students, to adults and professionals. There is vocal classes, strings, piano, musicianship, methodology and gorgeous early childhood classes for the super little people. To me what has set Pathways apart from other music education I’ve seen is that all the teachers appear to have a deep desire to ensure students receive a true appreciation and understanding of music and how it works. The focus in not on grades, it is on joy, playing with and for others and honing skills at the students level.
In her early childhood classes, Jen Teh often uses books as part of the class. There are thousands of beautiful music themed books out there, and several written by musicians and songwriters. Just a very, very few of my favourites are below, let me know which titles I should add!
‘I’m Still Awake Still’ contains the audio of the book being read by author/illustrator Elizabeth Honey, along with eight songs which are all so beautiful and so different that you will want to play them night after night. ‘I’m Still Awake Still’ was the soundtrack for bedtime for six or so years in our family, and I still hum the songs from this CD constantly. We also saw the musical production of this book, which was FABULOUS. My full review of this title is here – if you have little people in your life you need this book. Rave over.
‘When I Grow Up‘ from ‘Matilda the Musical’ stayed with me long after I saw this beautiful production, and the girls and sing along VERY loudly to it in the car. So to say I was excited about this book, inspired by Minchin’s lyrics, is an understatement. I had high hopes, and thankfully those hope were not dashed. For those who love Minchin’s work, this will become an instant favourite. The narrative is simple but absolutely beautiful. It is difficult to not sing this book, but my children won’t allow this (probably a good thing); it’s just such a beautiful and hopeful look at the perceived freedom that being an adult brings, from the perspective of a child. It’s innocent and playful and fun…all the things that childhood longing should be about. Well done indeed Tim Minchin. Thank you for living up to my expectations. There is a digital download of the song – LIVING THE TIM MINCHIN DREAM!
‘Imagine‘ features the lyrics of John Lennon’s iconic song and illustrations by the award-winning artist Jean Jullien, this poignant and timely picture book dares to imagine a world at peace.
Join one little pigeon on her mission to spread the word of peace around the world. Set to the lyrics the iconic song Imagine, this book brings John Lennon’s enduring message of peace and tolerance to a new generation.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
‘Pea Pod Lullaby‘ by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King
A glorious, heartfelt story about finding a safe place to call home, from award-winning book creators Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King.
I am the small green pea, you are the tender pod, hold me.
Words sing over the pictures in this evocative story: a beautiful lullaby about what we can be for each other. A mother and baby, a boy and a dog run for their lives. A little boat carries them across the sea. A polar bear, too, has come adrift. When will they find land? Where will they find friends? Who will welcome them in? ‘Pea Pod Lullaby‘ is an inspiring and timely story of courage, endurance, and hope… for a world in which we can reach out and embrace one another.
‘The Hush Treasure Book’ is a world of magic, wonder and mystery. Created for the Hush Music Foundation, famous for its original music albums used in hospitals all around the world, this book is a glorious collection of stories, poems and pictures from thirty favourite storytellers.
‘A Certain Music’ is a slim little volume; a small chapter book aimed at readers 9-12 years, although my 87 year old nan keeps asking me to buy more copies of this one for her friends. It’s the most gorgeous story and reads like a fairytale. Set in 1823 in the Vienna Woods, a lonely young child spies an old man – a music maker. And so begins an odd friendship which develops through their mutual love of music. The man is composing a new work. It will break new ground. He fears it will be ridiculed and is aware that he is thought mad. He confides in the child, who sits for hours watching and listening as he revises and plays. She has a feeling for the music that he cannot fathom. And not only for the music, but for what he is. She knows his pain, his anger, his fear and also his gentleness. Together they give each other the courage to face their critics and dare to be different.
A tale of a song written by a man who couldn’t hear for a child people thought strange. Yet the song will live forever in the heart and mind of every child where there’s nurtured a love of music. One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right
Based on the iconic songs of her father, Bob Marley, Cedelia Marley has done a fabulous job of introducing Bob Marley to a new generation – in book form and musical form – with‘One Love’ and ‘Every Little Thing’. You can read my full review of ‘One Love’ and see the book trailer here.
ChickPea (4) thinks this book is just darned marvellous – a crocodile hosting a tea party and a host of animals escaping his jaws. What could be better! She’s also rather partial to a rhyming text and this one is based on the rhythm of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ so it is catchy and the accompanying CD is great. I was fortunate to run a ‘Terrible Lizards Book Party’ (here)which the author and illustrator were at and it was a joy to work with them and share this book with little people. My full review is here.
Ringo Starr has teamed up with award winning illustrator Ben Cort , of ‘Aliens Love Underpants’ fame, to introduce a new generation of readers and musicians to the joy of the Beatles famed ‘Octopus’s Garden’. The book is a visual delight with gorgeous colours and lots of underwater action, as five children go on a magical journey through the Octopus’s garden.
Finally? I’d like to end on another quote from a fav bedtime read at the moment, which as I said, has had many ‘ah ha’ moments in it for the girls and I. I’ve been struggling with ChickPea and PudStar needing me to be ‘everything’ for them of late (wonder why?) so this quote is resonated with me – because all we can do as parents is try. Thanks Lisa Nicol for this pearler of a quote, “Although Blue still struggled to understand many things about her parents, it made her feel so good to make them happy again. They were just people after all. And there aren’t any perfect people. No any. Blue decided loving each other just the way we are is all any of us can try our best to do.” (p. 177, ‘Dr Boogaloo and the Girl Who Lost Her Laughter’).Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.