Kids Rock Broadway at the NAC!

Sometimes, being a kid can be tough. Between balancing school and home life and trying to navigate their way through childhood into adolescence, there isn’t much time to just sit and enjoy being a kid.

Now imagine on top of all those things; having to learn a script, memorize a song list, and play a set in front of a live audience night after night….

Well, the kids of SCHOOL OF ROCK’s North American touring cast make it look easy. The process of finding the perfect kids for the cast, on the other hand, is anything but. For the initial production of SCHOOL OF ROCK, which opened on Broadway in 2015, the casting team looked at a total of 22,000 kids around the US.

School of Rock at the NAC

Challenge 1: Making sure the kids are between 9-12 years old; any younger and the physical demands of the show could be too much, any older and their bodies and voices are subject to the many changes of teenage development.

Challenge 2: Putting acting and singing on the back burner at first, and making sure the level of “musicianship” of the individual is strong. Can they carry a tune? Once that is established, the production team will help to work on the additional aspects.

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More than anything, casting directors are looking at the personality of the child as that’s as important to them than being a “quadruple threat”. Do they love music? Are they enthusiastic and friendly with others? And more importantly, are they willing to work hard? In addition to regular rehearsals for the touring actors, cast members must also attend separate band rehearsals and tutoring lessons while on the road.

Making their way to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa from September 25-30th, the SCHOOL OF ROCK cast is arriving just as Ottawa students are beginning to settle back into the daily routine of classes and homework. Because of this, we have decided to celebrate the amazing kids in our lives by having Kids Rock Broadway night on Sunday, September 30th at 7 pm.

Tickets for the performance start at $40, and there will also be a number of fun props that kids can use to get that epic Rock 'N Roll photo with. Additionally, School of Rock Orleans will be hosting an instrument petting zoo. Drum kits, guitars, and basses OH MY! Kids will have a chance to check out the instruments up close, learn more about them, and get some totally jammin’ shots to add to the family photo album.

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What’s special about SCHOOL OF ROCK is that children in the audience can see what others their age are capable of and therefore, what they are capable of. It’s a show about the pressures of achieving perfection and the power that music and pursuing your own passions can have. Finally, it’s an exuberant reminder to children and adults to take a second out of their busy lives to have fun and let loose once in a while.

For more information on show times, ticket prices and availability, check out BroadwayAcrossCanada.ca. We hope to see you there!

** If you're planning on attending as a family, make sure to check out this special offer for Kids Rock Broadway on Sunday, September 30th - Click here to purchase tickets and use offer code: FAMILY

Monkey Rock Music: Kids Music Doesn’t Have to Drive Parents Crazy

John King is the director of Monkey Rock Music, which offers music classes for young children (ages 0-4 years) and their adult caregivers in Ottawa and Montreal.

Let’s be honest - listening to kids’ music is the worst

Sharing music with your child from a young age will result in a lifelong interest in being a part of music. That interest will hopefully lead to wanting to take dance lessons, singing lessons, piano lessons, or at least the high score in Guitar Hero. But most kids’ music is saccharine, canned drum beat, earworm garbage.

Fortunately, sharing music with your child does not have to mean children’s music by any stretch of the imagination. Share the music YOU love. Dance around your kitchen with your baby to Drake, crank Cardi B in the car, start a toddler mosh pit to Nirvana. Your child will take your love of music from you and run with it. This, above all else, will make music meaningful for your children.

This is why Monkey Rock Music always includes a rock and roll sing along in their classes, something parents know and can get into - Wonderwall, Shake It Off, Brown Eyed Girl, etc. Our album might be the only hard rock kids’ music on the market. Amps at 11.

Monkey Rock Music Kids Music Program

Engaging in music

The key to engaging anyone in music is to make it easy to be a part of - sick beats make you want to dance; catchy riffs make you want to sing along. One of the biggest mistakes music teachers make is to try and ‘teach’ music at too young an age. For toddlers, the only goal should be to show them they can be a part of music - and it can be fun.

Music for young children should be 100% participatory, with simple, repetitive actions - ideally with interactions between parent and child. Programs should balance introducing new songs to keep things interesting, with repeating past songs to help young singers learn the music and lyrics. We even provide families with videos of our staff performing the songs, so kids can practice at home while still maintaining that connection to their weekly rock star hero.

Monkey Rock Music Lesson

The point: You need to have fun

Don’t do any music program with your kids that you don’t enjoy. You set the tone in all things for your child from the moment they’re born, and if you’re not having fun, they can tell. The best parent/child programs get this, and will focus as much on your enjoyment as the babies’ - being a parent of a young child is HARD, and any classes you take should make it easier.

Monkey Rock Music Guitar

Sing Along with Sharon & Bram (and Friends) at the NAC!

My daughter knows Sharon & Bram through me. She constantly hears me breaking out into “One elephant went out to play, upon a spider's web one day!” As well as singing the words (and doing the actions) to I Am Slowly Going Crazy and Skinnamarink. So, when I heard Sharon & Bram were coming to the NAC Southam Hall on Sunday, September 23, 2018 at 2 pm I got so excited!

These Canadian treasures will be celebrating their 40th anniversary with this special show and will be joined on stage by a full band! This show is a great opportunity for all fans of Sharon & Bram to see them live and celebrate their anniversary through the songs we all know and love.

Sharon and Bram

If you are unfamiliar with Sharon & Bram, here’s a bit of background: Since 1978, Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison have been pre-eminent in all aspects of family entertainment across North America as members of the trio “Sharon, Lois & Bram”. Together, the threesome produced over twenty recordings, beginning with their iconic One Elephant, Deux Elephants. They have appeared in every major concert hall in Canada, and many United States including Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center and the White House in Washington. They have received countless awards, including Gold and Platinum Records and JUNO awards for Best Children’s Album. To date, they have sold over 3 Million Albums worldwide.

For their years of work providing the best in participatory music for children and their families, Sharon and Bram have been inducted into The Order of Canada, the highest honour in the country. 

You don’t want to miss out on this concert. Tickets start at a very affordable $29.50 and watching Sharon & Bram (and friends) with your kids is something the entire family will enjoy and will not soon forget!

For more information and to get your tickets, visit NAC Event Page - https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/18672

Make sure to follow Sharon & Bram online for the latest news and information about these beloved children’s entertainers:
Web - http://www.sharonandbram.com/
FB – https://www.facebook.com/sharonandbram   

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the National Arts Centre.

Dancing to Blue Skies by Bobs & LoLo

When my daughter was younger her favourite musicians were the Canadian children’s performers Bobs & LoLo. The Vancouver-based duo caught the “ear” of my daughter when she was a toddler. Their music video for “Raindrop Pop” came on Treehouse and from that moment on, my daughter was hooked.

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Music by Bobs & Lolo is easy on adult-ears and upbeat and fun for young ears. When no one is looking, my now 9-year old daughter can still be found singing and dancing along to Bobs & LoLo with her four- and two-year old cousins. My daughter thinks it's neat that she has passed on her love of Bobs & LoLo to her cousins. My four-year old niece loves dancing to their newest album and when asked her favourite song, she eagerly replied, "Blue Skies!" She likes it because it's a long song and has lots of blue skies in it! ;)

Bobs & Lolo’s catchy songs often carry a life lesson or environmental message (I still catch myself singing “R-E-C-Y-C-L-E – Recycle, Recycle with me” when I ask my daughter to put something in the recycle bins.

Bobs & Lolo’s newest album, Blue Skies, is filled with familiar beats their fans have come to adore, this time celebrating “sunshine and laughter, individuality and creative expression, big feelings and bigger hearts, special days, special places and the special little people that fill our lives with love, hope and happiness.”

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It comes as no surprise that Blue Skies is nominated for a 2018 Juno Children’s Album of the Year Award. Their music is memorable, fun and is a perfect introduction into music for young kids.

Robin Hardy and Lorraine Pond are the creative geniuses behind Bobs & Lolo. They met as Girl Guides and have been making music together since they were teenagers. I recently asked them a few “behind the scenes” questions and here is what they had to say:

1)   How did you get started together?

We've been Bobs & LoLo far longer than we have been songwriters, performers or business partners. We actually first met as kids at a Girl Guides camp on Vancouver Island. Years later we ended up at the same high-school where "Bobs" and "LoLo" were our childhood nicknames nearly a decade prior to becoming our stage names.  

2)   What made you decide to create children’s music together?

The whole project evolved quite organically from our friendship and a mutual interest in music and working with kids. While we first met singing around a campfire, we later studied classical piano with the same music teacher and also sang in a choir and self-directed a cappella quartet. Before we started our musical adventures as Bobs & LoLo, Robyn (Bobs) was teaching elementary school and Lorraine (LoLo) was working in environmental education for the non-profit sector. Songwriting and live performing started out as a fun side project to create support materials for our separate jobs working with children. We never dreamed those early days would lead to running our own business, touring or national television!

3)   What are the inspirations behind your newest songs?

Blue Skies is probably our most personal writing project to date. We've always written songs inspired by our own childhoods and a shared love of the outdoors, nature and active living. Blue Skies definitely champions these values but we also found ourselves writing more personal pieces for our own kids, families and all of the longtime fans who have become friends over the years. This album has such a mix of influences and inspiration from family love songs like "We Love You" and "Sunshine" to upbeat kiddie-mosh tunes like "Jump With Me", "Ran To The Park" and "We Can Go Anywhere" to our signature blend of folky jazz in "Whatever the Weather" and "Scrub Scrub". We're really proud of all 14 songs on this album and hope the music and messages resonate with families everywhere.     

4)   Both of you have families of your own now – how do you find a balance between family and your music?

Probably the biggest bonus of our industry (next to the obvious fun factor!) is that for the most part, we can include our families. Whether on tour or simply as creative inspiration, we try to bring the crew of minis along. That said, with 5 little ones between the two of us all aged 6 and under, life on the road has gotten a little more complex in recent years, but we still try to make it a family adventure whenever possible. Away from the stage, we find balance by spending time with our families in nature, weaving music and laughter into our daily lives and celebrating both parenting wins and struggles with our close network. 

5)   What does a typical weekday look like for you?

Like all working parents, each day is pretty much a feat of multi-tasking craziness. A typical day starts with an ambitious list of what we want to get through which often includes a number of work-related items, play dates, extracurricular kiddie activities, school drop-offs and pick-ups, meal planning and subsequent grocery runs, quick walks for the dog, park play, meetings in the minivan and conference calls in the bathroom so we don't wake the babies, of course. We can also usually count on some sibling mediation, preschooler negotiations and a ridiculous amount of potty time too. The combo of parenting and professional life definitely has it’s share of challenges, but we feel fortunate to be able to do both. Some days hold big wins for work and family and some days are better left in the fog of motherhood and caffeine. 

6)   What is one thing fans would be surprised to know about each of you?

The first thing that came to mind is that Bobs' favourite food is bacon and LoLo is a vegetarian. We're not always matchy-match!   

7)   What is one piece of advice you have for kids looking to get started in the music/performance industry? 

Success in the arts definitely takes a certain level of business acumen. This is something we learned along our journey. If there are areas that you lack expertise, ask questions, do the research, forge your path and never stop believing in yourself and the value of your creative. There have been many times in our careers where we pondered whether the personal investment was worth the return. As an artist or entrepreneur, you will always put in more hours than you might at any other job. Usually for less pay. The pay off will come. Seeing something you love and believe in thrive and grow is so incredibly rewarding. When you find something you are truly passionate about, the drive to see it succeed provides the fuel and stamina to get through the long hours and hard work. Let your light shine. It is a gift to the world and yourself! 

If you have never heard of Bobs & Lolo before, be sure to check them out online. You will be singing along to their music in no time!  When my daughter was younger, I had a hard copy of their albums in my car and a digital copy on my iPod. They are quickly loved by young ears and I have no doubt that their music will become iconic, much like other beloved Canadian children’s performers before them.

If you’re interested in getting your own copy of Bobs & LoLo’s newest album, Blue Skies, you can stream it on Spotify or purchase it on iTunes or GooglePlay.

WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF BLUE SKIES

Or you can enter to win an autographed copy of Blue Skies as well as an autographed postcard!

**Contest is now closed. Congratulations to Lisa B.! **

Disclosure: KITC was provided with a copy of "Blue Skies" for the purpose of this review however, as always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Kids Music for the Car: The Wilderbeats!

Many moons ago I was at an environmental education conference in Nova Scotia. One evening we were entertained by two young women - museum naturalist Ashley Moffat and museum volunteer Joyce Saunders. They were trying to find a way to entertain children with nature-themed songs, and discovered they both had a talent for fun, interactive and quirky music. The Wilderbeats was born! Ashley Moffat has since retired from the duo (although she's still writing songs and entertaining kids as an interpreter at Kejimkujic National Park), and Shannon Lynch took over as Wilderbeat Part 2.

This is children's music at its best - the kind of stuff I can listen to in the car and not pull my hair out :)

One of our favourites? A song called Tamarack, off the 2006 album Second Nature. I strongly recommend you find this CD! Check out the lyrics below:

Tamarack, Hackmatack, Juniper, and Larch Absolutely naked from November until March It's got CONES! and it's got NEEDLES! But it isn't what it seems... It's decidedly deciduous and never evergreen

Next time you're outside playing and there's a tamarack in sight Why don't you get up close and notice what the needles are like? They grow in little bunches that look just like tiny brooms If you were only a couple inches tall, you could use one to sweep your room!

Tamarack, Hackmatack, Juniper, and Larch Absolutely naked from November until March It's got CONES! and it's got NEEDLES! But it isn't what it seems... It's decidedly deciduous and never evergreen

Now, if there was a party that only softwoods could attend And the invitation said that you could bring along a friend The tamarack would never ask a taller tree to come 'Cause taller trees are too shady, and larches love their sun!

I suppose you all are wondering what "deciduous" really means Well, in the season we call "autumn", you can see the falling leaves The beautiful Red Maple may be the one that we know best But the larches drop their needles too, so they also pass the test!

Tamarack, Hackmatack, Juniper, and Larch Absolutely naked from November until March It's got CONES! and it's got NEEDLES! But it isn't what it seems... It's decidedly deciduous and never evergreen

What's your favourite children's CD?