Tune Up – Music Gifts
Whether your child is still banging on pots and pans in the kitchen or learning to play the flute, these gifts will inspire and nurture an interest in music. While some of these veer toward contemporary musical styles, many embrace classical music.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin
4 to 8 years
What it is: Lyrical prose, rhythmic background sounds, and inspired animation breathe life into fifteen musically-themed storybooks aimed at children ages four to eight. Don’t be fooled by that age range. It’s very likely that anyone who’s in the room when this DVD plays will be captivated by its tuneful beauty.
Why we like it: The 3-DVD set offers exceptional variety in its stories. Selections range from the jazzy “Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin”, with its cleverly paced verses and music supplied by Marvin Hamlisch, to a soulful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, brilliantly performed by Aretha Franklin. Some of the stories include celebrity narration, including the voice talents of Zach Braff , and those stories have an optional read-along feature where the words appear in graphics at the bottom of the screen.
One Bunny Band
2 to 5 years
What it is: Created by classical composer and Emmy-award winner Belinda Takahashi, Ph.D, One Bunny Band is part of the Juno Jr. series of products focusing on music education and appreciation for young people. Jacket copy quotes Takahashi’s wish “for all children to be surrounded by beautiful and interesting sounds” – and One Bunny Band is a great start.
Why we like it: This 60-minute DVD targets little viewers ages two to five, and it offers a surprising variety of musical formats all woven into the storyline of a little girl named Juno who takes her baby brother Rai-Rai to the magical world of Harmonia Springs. See also: Juno’s The Day the Music Stopped and their CD Juno Junior Super Duper Deluxe Edition
2 to 6 Years
What it is: B. Toys has taken everyday percussion instruments and given them an original and fun jungle twist. Inside the large leopard-faced conga drum with a 10-bell tambourine lid are several more instruments, including an antelope slide whistle, a hornbill water whistle, two giraffe maracas, a crocodile cabasa-clacker, a twister hand drum and two snake drumsticks.
Why we like it: Jungle Jam inspired longer lasting interest in our children testers than any other recent musical instrument set. This will be a big hit during family gatherings over the holidays.
Maria Muldaur’s Barnyard Dance
2 to 8 years
What it is: Long before the radio ready “Midnight in the Oasis,” singer Maria Muldaur began her career in the early 1960s as Maria D’Amato, performing with John Sebastian, David Grisman, and Stefan Grossman as part of the Even Dozen Jug Band and also as a founding member of the seminal Jim Kweskin & His Jug Band. Her career has included flirtations with pop, gospel, blues, rock and jazz. Jug Band Music for Kids is her fourth children’s music CD.
Why we like it: Jug band music is a perfect sound for kids because of its homemade qualities and rootsy simple structures, which can be created on everyday objects such as spoons, kazoo, harmonica and pots and pans. In fact, to best experience this CD, we recommend constructing and playing homemade instruments while listening.
My Name is Handel: The Story of Handel’s Water Music
7 & up
What it is: The lavish Maestro Classics story-and-music audio series continues with the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of music by Handel under the baton of veteran conductor and series creator Stephen Simon. Excerpts from the great baroque composer’s works accompany a story woven around his life, nicely adapted by Simon and told by narrator Yadu.
Why we like it: Listeners are invited to sing along to a Handel-themed original song. More interesting bits of information about the composer’s life and times can be found in the lively, jam-packed CD booklet.