Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel: a collaboration of story and song from Maestro Classics

The following is by contributor Jennifer Brown.

Do you know Mike Mulligan? How about the Tortoise and the Hare or Casey at the Bat?  These classic children’s stories can now be part of your listening repertoire with the added benefit of introducing your children to classical music through a series called Maestro Classics that I recently had the opportunity to review.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

 We love to listen to stories both at home and in the car, so when we got the chance to check out “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” with its own original score to enhance the story it seemed like the perfect mix for my music and machine loving boys.

The narration is fantastic and engaging, but the music brings a deeper element to the story.  Our family really enjoyed listening to the story, but even more we enjoyed listening to the story a second time after hearing the About the Music track which gave insight about how certain sounds were created.  My (almost) 2 year old excitedly began imitating the sound of the steam (created with a scuba tank) when we learned about its origin.  It’s now his signature sound for requesting a replay.

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The Beauty of a Playlist (Cool Kids Rock!)

The following is by contributor and music reviewer Jennifer Brown.

This month I wanted to give you a surefire winner, something you could count on to immediately improve your personal music library.  Then of course I realized that there’s no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to music.  We all have our own personal tastes and opinions, and while I do my best to find those gems that will make parent’s ears happy—our ears are not all created equal.

So…I decided I would give you my best of three albums to kick off our new year of music together at Simple Kids.  Simply because just as our ears aren’t created equal, all tracks on any one particular album aren’t created equal either.

In our house, we’ve compiled the following selections performed by contemporary artists into a playlist we lovingly call Cool Kids Rock.

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Holiday Music Memories

The following was written by music contributor Jennifer Brown.

Holidays are a time when memories are made—whether it’s as simple as a country ham, biscuits and grits breakfast every Christmas morning or as elaborate as a proposal of marriage.  We’re making memories daily and annually without even trying; they’re just there.  So often there’s a soundtrack that goes along with those memories.

That musical soundtrack has a way of creeping into our memory bank and can instantly take us back to a place and time when a particular song at a particular moment touched our lives in some way.

My favorite Christmas song renditions are those that remind me of listening to my parent’s albums at the holidays when I was a child.

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Discovering Local Music Talent and A Giveaway from The Plaza Family Band!

The following is by contributor Jennifer Brown.

Sometimes the best things in life can be found right outside of our own front doors:  tonight’s special at the locally owned restaurant, the neighborhood’s annual Fall Festival, locally grown and prepared apple butter.

This month I want to share some music with you by a band I found right outside of my (virtual) front door in my hometown of Charlotte, NC.

This giveaway has ended.  Thank you!

The Plaza Family Band is comprised of some talented musicians whose love for children and quality children’s music shows in their release of not one but two albums as a fundraiser project for a local area preschool program.

If you’re a parent of a preschooler there are just some kid songs you can’t escape like:  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Five Little Monkeys” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  And so often those tend to be the ones we want to escape.  So, when I first heard “Playground Hootenanny” (album #1) I was so excited with the quality and parent friendliness of the music that I immediately went back for more with “Wee Jamboree” (album #2).  Our whole family could jam with a smile and I immediately knew this band shouldn’t be local anymore.

Insert drum roll…

So, this month I am thrilled to introduce to you The Plaza Family Band with an interview with Mike Strauss, one of the band’s founders.  I wanted to take this unique opportunity to give you all a little look into the world of a local grassroots music production and perhaps inspire you to support their efforts and the efforts of others like them in your communities.

You can also find them on Amazon and their official website.  Don’t forget to check out the details of our giveaway at the end of the interview.

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Putumayo's Animal Crackers: A Great Snack for your Ears!

The following review is by contributor Jennifer Brown.

In many places we’re hitting what they call the dog days of summer.  It’s hot and the fresh summer air may be starting to feel a little stale.  Summer days still stretch ahead of us, and if your family is like ours you may be in need of a little pick me up.

The other day I was searching for just that to boost our spirits, and I was reminded of how important it is to make music a part of our day.  I had gotten out of the habit of making music a part of our daily ritual since we moved way back in December.  A new set up in a new home somehow changed our family rhythm, and we needed to get that back!

Animal Playground

We jumped into it (literally) with a new favorite song “No More Monkeys” which can be found on . If you’re looking to escape those dog days of summer, this collection of animal inspired tunes is a terrific way for the whole family to laugh, sing and dance their hearts out.

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