It was an eventful year in 2019. Here are some highlights! In the first half of the year …
A big highlight of my year was singing a South African song with children at the Children’s Own School (a Montessori primary school in Winchester, MA) in the Spring of 2019. Inspired by a visit of the Imilonji Kantu Choral Society from Soweto in November 2018, I learned and taught a South African song to my young students at COS. They got to see a video of my South African friends Petronella and Bongi, singing and moving to the song. Then the children did it! It felt like a true cross-cultural sharing.
The Children’s Music Network New England gathering with Alphabet Rockers on April 27. This event in Boston, sadly, was under-attended, but it was one of the best things I did all year. The Alphabet Rockers, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepherd, not only make excellent children’s music (they just got a second Grammy nomination), they also do thought-provoking work to help us examine our biases and everyday microaggressions. There should have been hundreds of musicians and teachers in that room. We all need to keep hearing these calls for self-reflection and action.
On a sad note, Sol Weber passed on in the Spring of 2019. I knew Sol from the Children’s Music Network. He was also a stalwart of CMN’s grown-up soul-mate, the People’s Music Network, known for promoting folk songs for social action. Sol was definitely one of a kind. One thing he was known for was his love of singing rounds, and he kindly notated one of mine, the “Yuletide Round.”
Song of Spring – It wasn’t a banner year for releasing my own music videos, but I did put out this one that celebrated spring. Watch this in the dead of winter and get a dose of springtime cheerfulness. This song also deserves more attention among those who work with children. It’s easy to sing and you can make up your own verses to help children learn about rhyming words and poetry/songwriting. This video also features my artwork, something I’ve developed more this year.
Singing Orff songs and playing glockenspiels – My second year at the Children’s Own School brought an investment in glockenspiels to go along with the supply of xylophones the school already had. Hooray for Orff instruments and finding ways to help young children make music on them! These instruments were a terrific complement in music class to the traditional Montessori bells in the classrooms. I enjoyed teaching the “Flamingo” song, which I composed. This song would be great for elementary Orff students.
Flamingo song: https://soundcloud.com/antelopeliz/flamingo
Singing in Argentina and Uruguay in June. I made my first musical trip this year with the Sharing a New Song chorus. This wonderful organization travels annually to sing in countries all over the world, specializing in countries that we especially need to learn more about. They started in the late 1980s with a visit to the former Soviet Union and over the years have traveled to places such as Vietnam, China, Nicaragua and South Africa. Along the way, they’ve made lifelong friendships with chorus members in those places. It was my first visit to South America. I loved singing there, but it was even more interesting to get a glimpse of life on the continent to our south and deepen our understanding of the world.
And in the second half of the year …
The Children’s Music Network Conference in Phoenix in September 2019 – This gem of an organization provides me with daily guidance in my work with music and kids. Daily, thanks to its very active list-serv. It makes me sad that a growing number of the country’s top musicians for children seem to have bypassed CMN as a resource. Every single one of them ought to be a member – both CMN and they would be richer for it! The CMN conference in September was held in Phoenix near the home of Alice and David Burba. Alice, who co-chaired the conference with the lovely Katherine Dines, is on the CMN Board of Directors and also co-owns (with David) the excellent Songs for Teaching website, where you can find my music and lots of other songs that are great for adding music to any lesson! Among the highlights was an exchange of ideas with David Meyers on teaching children who are on the autism spectrum and a workshop featuring Suni Paz and her lovely musical work in Spanish. But that leaves out the amazing keynote session with Enrique Hank Feldman and the wonderful conference opening that featured the many musical styles of the American southwest. WOW. Their 2020 conference is in the DC area in early October. If you’re a children’s musician reading this, plan now and GO!
While in Phoenix, my visit to the Musical Instrument Museum – WOW! MIM! About 50 CMN conference attendees came to Phoenix early for a field trip to the museum. This place is worth a visit to Phoenix all on its own. See instruments from everywhere in the world and be reminded of how much we humans have in common, no matter what corner of the world we live in. One of the best features of this museum is the easy-to-use headset that allows you to play music videos at hundreds of exhibits. You see the instruments and you get to hear them, too!
Also while at the Musical Instrument Museum, the CMN attendees received an excellent workshop provided by the museum’s educational staff. Lots of us CMN members lead workshops ourselves on children’s music and I’m sure some of us walked in there wondering what more they could teach us. Teach us, they did! Just the lesson on feathers was terrific. There was also a wonderful Spanish-language “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and much more. I brought some of these wonders right back to my classrooms.
These lessons led in part to my blog posts in October on musical opposites. These were fun and I think the kids actually learned something about music and opposites!
I couldn’t finish my report on the musical year without mentioning my year-end report from Spotify. Under the heading of “Music sales NOT,” I want to thank Spotify for sending a really groovy looking video about my streaming figures and the thousands upon thousands of people who listened to my music this year. The report conveniently left out how much that earned me. Hint: Not much. It was definitely the lowest sales year ever for my CDs, but it’s nice to have listeners in 71 countries.