Song and Story


This is not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with this organisation – but jeepers am I am impressed with them. 

Ready for Day Two of Summer Music Program - raincoat and all.
Day Two of Summer Music Program – raincoat and all.

PudStar has just spent two weeks of her school holidays at the Summer Music Program, run by Sound Thinking Australia and The Cuskelly College of Music*. 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!) is a part of  who we are. Neither #backboy or myself work in the area of music: we don’t sing in choirs (just in the car), and I gave up the oboe and piano some time ago (sorry mum and dad!) – but we do value music in our lives and want our children to ‘have a go’ and be immersed in song, rhythm, the world of instrumental music and to enjoy the utter joy of music festivals as we have done. So while I knew Pud would enjoy all the singing at the Summer Music Program, I thought she may fade in interest, enthusiasm and energy after a week – it was, after all, the Summer holidays, and there was swimming to be done. Well she has adored every single second of the program and has announced that next year she’s doing the full days – no more half days for her. In fact I now want to sign her for the Pathways to Music Saturday classes. Shame we decided she needed to learn to throw a netball and run around a court – there will not be the same level of enthusiasm from her.

We’ve just returned from the final concert which included performances from the Children’s Choir, Opera Chorus, Jazz Ensemble and the Music Theatre Program. It was fabulous; without being one teeny bit fussy or over the top – this was an outstanding concert showcasing some amazingly talented performers from 6 years’ old to 86 years’ old, who had just worked hard for two weeks with some of the best music educators around, overseen by Dr James Cuskelly*.

Lined up and ready for the concert
Lined up and ready for the concert
...and utterly engrossed in the songs of the older attendees.
…and utterly engrossed in the songs of the older attendees.

I often think of what Jen Teh wrote for me here two years ago now, ‘Singing is an intrinsic part of raising children’, and I think about how song and stories seem, to me anyway, just so easy to share with the young people in our lives and so vitally important in language acquisition, communication and connection. You can read all of what Jen has to say on song and babies here and connect with her at Hush Little Baby here.

And now PudStar is asleep – two weeks of singing and musicianship classes are done and she’s no doubt singing in her sleep, just like she’s been singing in the car, kitchen, to the pest control dude (‘glad my boys wanted to do soccer camp’) and any grandparent who will listen. She’s gone to sleep listening to the CD from ‘The Hush Treasure Book’, after loudly reciting one of the poems from this book, which she tells me is ‘ like the theme of the Leunig song we sung at the end of the concert’. As I said, she’s full to the brim with song at the moment.Hush Treasure Book

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!the-hush-treasure-book

‘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.


 ‘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.

one-love 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. 

octopus-s-gardenRingo 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.

*Dr Cuskelly is the be Head of Music at the school at which I work, St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, where we all rather adore him and would like to bottle his educator magic. James Cuskelly has been involved in the Australian Kodály Summer Training Programs since their inception. As President of the International Kodály Society, James is well known as a global leader in terms of the Kodály philosophy of music education. He has a deep commitment to music education and teacher training and has a distinguished track record in organising and delivering courses of the highest professional standing.

Dr James Cuskelly
Dr James Cuskelly
The titles of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore 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.


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