5 New Holiday Music CDs & Songs for Families

Holiday Music For Kids

Do you hear what I hear? It’s holiday music and Christmas cheer! Despite all the stress, I still absolutely love the holidays, and one of my favorite things about the season is all the happy music. Here are some new CDs and songs that we’re enjoying this year….

Ben Rudnick & Friends

Ben Rudnick & Friends are about to play their 9th Annual Holiday Extravaganza Concert at the Regent Theatre (Boston, MA) on December 11th. It’s always a wonderful show full of Christmas and Chanukah songs all wrapped up in that unique BR&F style.

And every year people ask if they have a holiday album… and every year they have to say no, but maybe next year… Until now!

They finally did it! And it was well worth the wait! Their new album, It’s Santa Claus, features eight classic Christmas songs, from Frosty the Snowman to Jingle Bells, and one super cool original song, It’s Santa Claus!

Of course, now they need to put together a CD of all their fun Chanukah songs. OK guys, that’s your assignment for next year!

Daria

Daria’s Songs for Merry Multicultural Mirth is a sweet collection of songs from around the world. We’ve always loved the song Ocho Candelikas, a traditional song sung in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews. What I love about Daria’s version is that she’s added an English verse, too, so we can sing along. Spanish speakers will enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between Spanish and Ladino.

Daria does such a great job of bringing different cultures together! This CD also feature songs in Spanish (Feliz Navidad), German (Ihr Kinderlein Kommet), and English (Rockin’ Jingle Bells). Check out the liner notes to the album where you can read more about each song and download the lyrics.

Phil Cooke

Speaking of Christmas celebrations around the world, Phil Cooke from Australia has just released a new album, Christmas Time is Coming! Is that Santa surfing on Christmas day? Of course! In Australia it’s summer time during the holidays, so why not?

One of my favorite songs on this album is No Worries Mate (Santa Claus He’s a Surfie). It’s fun and playful—like all of Phil’s songs. Did you know Rudolph once forgot to put sun screen on his nose? How do you think he got that burn?

Renee & Jeremy

I am of the opinion that Renee & Jeremy can do no wrong. Everything they do is brilliant! So of course their new cover of Little Drummer Boy is instantly my favorite version of this song ever. Period.

Combine this song with the beautiful art work by Hsinping Pan that always graces their albums and you’ve got perfection. I love the colors and joy displayed on this CD.

And speaking of art work, have you seen the video for Renee & Jeremy’s It’s a Big World? It’s shockingly beautiful.

DidiPop

Another fun Christmas single comes from DidiPop this year. Let’s Make Santa Claus Happy Tonight is simply adorable. Didi sings along with her kids who are soooo excited about Santa stopping by during the night.

The song is upbeat and playful and reminds us adults about how much fun Christmas Eve is and how hard it is to wait for morning.

And is that an ukulele I hear in the song? That reminds me of Didi’s newest album, DidiPop Goes to Hawai’i, set for release on December 14th. You don’t want to miss it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

New CD Releases: Brian Vogan & Keller Williams

New Music from Brian Vogan & Keller Williams

Keller Williams: Kids

Mark your calendars: Keller Williams will be hosting the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Saturday, January 22nd from 9-10am on WXOJ 103.3FM (Northampton, MA)

Brian Vogan: Sing a Little Song

As much as I like to think of myself as being totally plugged in to the kids’ music scene, lately I’ve been stumbling upon artists that I really should have already been listening to, but I’m only now discovering. That’s OK! I don’t need to be hip—I’m just on a quest for really good family music.

I found that in Brian Vogan’s new CD, Sing a Little Song. This CD catches you with the very first whimsical song, “How to Fly,” with nice light sounds and beautiful harmonies. I also love “Cross the Street” and “Wash Your Hands,” because they’re life-lesson songs that are actually fun to listen to!

Brian and his Good Buddies (that’s his band) are currently rocking in Seattle, but hopefully they’ll make it out to Boston soon. Meanwhile, check out their new CD. You can also watch their video for “That’s How a Pumpkin Grows” to get a feel for their mellow rock and rich instrumentation.

Keller Williams: Kids

Keller Williams is another artist that’s new to me, even though he’s about to release his sixteenth album. Of course his newest CD, Kids, is his first CD for… well… kids.

I was first attracted by the guitar (and Ivan always reacts so positively to accomplished guitar), but what really got my attention was the beat. Each song sways and moves to its own beat and rhythm that you just can’t help to respond to.

The fourth track, “Hulahoop to da Loop,” is a perfect example. It almost sounds like something from Stomp or Blue Man Group that just builds and builds on itself. It’s really a trip!

The humor on this album is just the sweetest. Songs about Taking a Bath” to get the stink off your feet, or about Good Advice (never pick your toes and then pick your nose because then your nose smells like your toes and that’s not good—that’s bad), or how Mama Tooted.” Well, you get the point.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Lesson Songs: Teaching Kids Manners, Hygiene and Healthy Eating

Lesson Songs

Jeremy Plays Guitar just came out with his new album, Use Your Words, full of songs that teach kids lessons (like how you should use your words rather than whine). It made me think of other fun lesson songs that teach kids about manners, hygiene, or eating healthy in entertaining ways…

Jeremy Plays Guitar: Use Your WordsMy favorite song on Use Your Words is House Rules, a song that tells us what “we should and should not do” because “we don’t live in a zoo.” Kids learn that “no biting” is a good rule, but they also learn that “yes sharing” is important, too. Check out Jeremy’s new video for Jump So High, too!

Leeny & Tamara: Sharing the Same StarsSpeaking of sharing, I’ve always loved Leeny & Tamara’s Taking Turns on their album Sharing The Same Stars. With a classic rock-and-roll beat, the song presents situations to kids (like two kids wanting to use the same color crayon) and gives them solutions. Amazingly, the song really works as a song and a lesson. Leeny & Tamara are great at that!

Brian Vogan: Sing a Little SongBrian Vogan’s newest CD, Sing a Little Song, has a great hand washing song called Wash Your Hands. It can be hard to find a good song about hygiene—so often they’re just so preachy. But this song seriously rocks! And it’s fun to sing “wash your hands, wash your hands, stop the germs if you can” while showing your kids how to wash at the sink.

Okee Dokee Brothers: Take it OutsideAnd since we’re talking about cleaning up at the sink, you’ve got to check out Wash Your Face from one of my favorite bands, the Okee Dokee Brothers, on their newest album, Take It Outside. I love this CD! These guys are so silly and have such a wonderfully bluegrass style. I love that their lyrics are so clever and witty—I’m still finding new sly jokes in their songs!

Lemonsquare: Music for FunSo we’ve got basic rules, sharing, and keeping clean down… what else do we need to teach our kids? How about eating healthy? There are lots of kids’ songs about food, but often they’re about ice cream, candy, or macaroni and cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). But if you’re looking for a song about eating veggies, check out Lemonsquare’s “Very Veggie” on Music for Fun. They sing about tasty vegetables and encourage kids to eat anything that’s green so that they can call themselves “very veggie,” too!

Are you looking for songs to teach your kids other lessons or do you have special lesson songs that you want to tell us about? Let us know!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Mind of My Own: France England’s Newest CD

Frances England: Mind of My Own

Frances England: Mind of My Own

Mind of My Own, due out November 9th, has a frenetic energy that is exciting and contagious!

You know when you hear an artist for the first time and they just grab you? That’s what happened for me when I heard Frances England’s new CD Mind of My Own.

On the one hand I was upset with myself for never having listened to Frances before, but on the other hand I was excited that she has two other CDs! I immediately ordered Fascinating Creatures and Family Tree. She’s just glorious!

If you’re familiar with Frances’ earlier work, then you already know about her sultry voice, creative lyrics, and timeless melodies. Her songs are easy to hum to and often the choruses are easy to sing to your kids later to get them to calm down. Many of the songs on her first two CDs are very soothing, but her new CD, due out November 9th, 2010, has more of a frenetic energy that is exciting and contagious.

As with many mommy artists, Frances’ music has grown with her kids. You can hear in this album the emerging independence I’m sure she’s seeing in her sons. The title song, Mind of My Own, is all about finding your own way while also maneuvering through all the rules your parents place on you. I absolutely adore the song Red Balloon where Frances describes a child growing in perfectly poetic language:

I’m a red balloon
I’m a full moon rising
I’m an apple tree
I’m a lemon drop
I’m a flower petal
I’m heavy metal
I’m two years old and I’m nonstop
I’m two years old and I’m nonstop

In the song To Be we hear Frances really appreciating the simple things in life. As parents we all know how sobering it can be to suddenly see the world through our kids’ eyes and realize the beauty of a flower or triumph of climbing a tree.

Frances says: “As a mother of two, it… feels really good to use song writing as a way of reflecting on daily family life. It’s such a precious time but too often we all lose sight of how significant it is because of our crazy schedules. For me, writing and singing these songs serves as a reminder that this stage in our families’ lives is golden.”

That’s a good reminder for all of us. Please check out this CD when it’s released in November. You’ll be so glad you did!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

New Music Worth Adding to Your iTunes Children’s Mix

New Music from the Flannerys & Caspar Babypants

Sometimes when you’ve listened to a lot of music you begin to feel a bit satiated; you start thinking that you’ve heard all the good stuff so why listen to anything new?

I don’t think this is uncommon. At this point my children’s mix on iTunes has 951 of our all time favorite kids songs—and I’m not kidding when I say we love every single song and wouldn’t give any up. But do we really need to add any more?

We still listen to new music, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to add something new to my mix—I mean, those 951 songs would take over a day to listen to from beginning to end. I think we’re good. I was just about ready to throw in the towel and call my mix complete when we were sent two new CDs to review from the Flannery Brothers and Caspar Babypants. They made the cut and now we’re at 983.

FLANNERY BROTHERS

Flannery Brothers - New Explorers ClubWe’ve been fans of the Flannery Brothers since we first heard Broccoli Yet back in April of last year (why does that seem like such a long time ago?) when their song was in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.

They’ve since released two albums, Love Songs for Silly Things and Wake Up Songs, and have a third, The New Explorers Club, due out in October. I hear a fourth, Dance Songs for Silly Things, is currently in the works. Do these guys ever sleep?

I’m always amazed by the talent of these brothers. What did mama Flannery feed them when they were little? Their music is rich and thick, like a hearty bowl of corn chowder (made with fresh corn just bought at the Farmers’ Market, of course). The layers of instruments and inter workings of sound are so impressive, but I’m always most taken by the lyrics. Flannery songs are fun, adventurous, and encourage kids (and parents) to get up, dance, get outside, and just experience life to the fullest. One of my favorite songs on the new album, Swallowed a Bug, is a hilarious take on the phrase, “It was totally worth it:”

I swallowed a bug,
but it was totally worth it.
It was sunny outside,
the day was perfect.
I was running through the green grass,
the bug was in the air,
and neither of us thought we’d meet each other there.

And you get the same message in the song The Elements. Who cares if it’s too hot or too cold outside, just get out there and have fun!

It’s hard to pick one favorite tune on this album, but if you can only listen to one song, I’d say give Kitchen Floor a try. On the surface it’s a song about being silly and laying down on the floor in the kitchen, but really it’s about being comfortable in your home and with your family—listening to mom cook dinner, smelling the spices, feeling the sun come through the window, and knowing you’re safe and at peace. Ah… what a feeling!

The New Explorers Club will be released on October 19th, 2010.

CASPAR BABYPANTS

Caspar Babypants - This is Fun!I know there’s been a lot of buzz over Caspar Babypants’ first two kids’ albums, Here I Am! and More Please!, but I have to be honest with you… I just never took the time to check him out until receiving a review copy of his newest album, This is Fun.

That was silly of me. Caspar Babypants rocks!

Caspar Babypants is the kid-friendly pseudonym of Chris Ballew, the lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America. His songs as Caspar are very much designed for the youngest musicophiles, babies and toddlers, which is a nice change from the usual hip, quirky kindie rock that appeals more to elementary school aged kids. Itsy Bitsy Spider and Shortnin’ Bread just got a much needed makeover!

Caspar’s songs are stripped-down-simple in a very light and airy way. These songs encourage you and your little one to move with the music together: stomp your feet, bounce up and down, wave your arms around. Perfect for mommy and me time! But they’re also entertaining enough for older kids… and mommy too!

I’ve actually taken This is Fun to my son, Ivan’s, physical therapy as a way to encourage him to move with his therapist. It worked wonders! The easy beats and directive lyrics got Ivan bouncing, taking steps, and balancing better than he’s ever done before—way to go Casper Babypants!

If you can only listen to one song on This is Fun, check out Baby and the Animals. I LOVE this song! A little baby and her animal friends live on an island, hang out on the beach, and play together in a band: “Coconuts and music is the all-day diet.” So cute!

This is Fun will be released on November 2nd, 2010.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Minnesota’s Newest Kids Band: The Bazillions

The Bazillions

Take a tablespoon of Recess Monkey, add a heaping cup of The Hipwaders, and stir in a bit of power pop to even out the heavy rock flavor, and you’ll have the recipe for Minnesota’s new kids’ band, The Bazillions. Yum!

The Bazillions is the family-friendly iteration of the grown-up band The Humbugs, but their kids’ fare sounds much happier (though their grown-up songs are actually very good, too).

As the Bazillions they sing about Mac -n- Cheese and a Super Sonic Rocket Bike, perfect for the younger generation. Their lyrics are witty and silly and, above all else, they rock!

Their new album, Rock-n-Roll Recess, features the requisite Hello and goodbye songs, but done in a decidedly rock fashion (very cool) and the last two tracks are lyric-free recordings of previous songs so you can sing along at home karaoke style. Kids love that.  Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Resources for Children with Special Needs

Summer Resources for Children with Special Needs

Summer is just around the corner and you’re probably looking forward to getting outside with your family. Kids are all about the summer activities: summer camp, swimming, hiking, sailing, you name it!

If your child is physically or intellectually disabled you’ll still certainly feel just as much need to get outside, but you may be worrying that there aren’t as many programs available that will cater to your child’s needs.

Look no further! There is an entire world of outdoor events and programs designed for special needs kids and, believe it or not, Massachusetts is home to many of them!

Every year the Physical Therapy department at the Franciscan Hospital for Children compiles a comprehensive guide to organizations and programs providing physical activity opportunities for children with special needs in Massachusetts and New England. All you need to do is check out their guide, find an activity suitable for your kid, and sign up!

Here is the Franciscan Hospital for Children: Physical Activity and Recreational Guide.

And if your child is visually impaired you may also want to join MAPVI, The Massachusetts Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired. They organize all sorts of fun family events too. Our favorites are the assisted sailing event and the Fishing Derby.

Have a fun and adventurous summer!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com.

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