Music is a great way to connect, with friends, with strangers, with places you love and places you dream of. Music is a great way to connect with the children in your life, as well.
Just as it s with adults, kids come into music through many different paths, some going for rhythm, some for melody, some for harmony, some for story. That opens up worlds of music for you to enjoy, and for you to share with the children in your life…music that they will enjoy and that you will, too.
These recordings have stories of especial interest to children, and they include pieces which evoke love of place and landscape. Music to share with children in your life: that can be a comforting thing to do when times are challenging. Let the creativity of these artists help you with that.
Matt Heaton is based in the Boston area, and when he is not doing music for children, one of his main gigs is playing Irish music in a duo with his wife Shannon. His children’s albums, though, span the range of Americana music, with folk, country, a bit of jazz, some blues, and more. There are familiar songs to sing along and original ones which have become well requested favorites at his live gigs.
Inclusive, generous, funny, and kind without being in the least sentimental are hallmarks of what Heaton does. He has three children’s albums out at present: Happy You Made It, Toddlerbilly Riot, and Snow Day, and it working on the next one. Update: Matt Heaton’s latest album is called All of Us, and is out now.
During the current situation, you can also find him offering a FaceBook Live program for children (and their parents, and other adults) called Mornings with Matt, which you’ll find at his Facebook page mattheatonmusic.
The Caribbean region holds a mix of cultures, and of languages. Many fof the people who came there brought traditiions from homelands in Africa with them, and then adapted those to their new homelands. Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees is a fine place to explore all this.
Nursery rhymes from Gabon, work songs from Jamaica, and lullabies from Cape Verde are a few of the choices you can explore, and as many are sung in the native languages of these countries, you and the children in your life will get to explore those as well. There’s a picture book as part of the package, which includes translations of lyrics to English, along with drawings of some of the instruments.
If classical music is your interest, then you’ll want to look at another recording which comes with a picture book. It is called Listen to the Birds. and offers short excerpts of 20 different classical pieces in which birds have inspired the composers. Mozart and Vivaldi are among those whose works are featured in performances by the Toronto Chamber Orchestra, The London Symphony Orchestra, and others. The accompanying book tells about the birds and the composers.
If your kids are a bit older, or if they or you are really into food, you will especially enjoy Sabor y Memoria from Sol y Canto. The music features rhythms from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Panama, and Puerto Rico composed by Sol y Canto co-founder Brian Amador, with lead vocals by co-fonder Rosi Amador and backing by the Sol y Canto sextet and a string quartet.
There’s a lot going on musically, and not only that, each of the seven sections of the music represents an imaginary meal. The Amadors have received many awards for their work. You may also want check out an article in which I introduced you to an earlier album of theirs called El Doble de Amigos Means Twice as Many Friends.
The Boy and the Bunnet is a story with music. Do you remember how Peter and the Wolf introduces instruments of the orchestra? The Boy and the Bunnet does the same thing with instruments found in the traditional music of Scotland, set in a tale of a boy who lives with his granny in her house by the sea and has all sorts of adventures.
James Robertson, who wrote the story, and James Ross, who wrote the music, had the idea to use the story to introduce children (and adults) to the Scots language, and Scottish Gaelic as well, so you will find narrations available in both languages, and an illustrated book too if you’d like. Musicians include Angus Lyon, Corrina Hewat, and Patsy Reid.
There is music from Scotland on the compilation album Celtic Dreamland, too, as well as music from the traditions of Ireland and Cape Breton. The songs are not all lullabies, but they are meant to be, as the album description says, lyrical songs for bedtime and relaxation.
Laughter, adventure, exploration, new languages, different instruments, imaginary meals, and quiet relaxation, in music traditions including Americana, classical, African, Caribbean, South American, Celtic, and more: great journeys to share with children in your life. Enjoy your travels!
Photographs of Matt Heaton and Karen Matheson are courtesy of the artists.
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