If you want to take your children to a concert which is entertaining, spirited and educational, please bring your children to see the world-famous Los Angeles Philharmonic perform as part of the Toyota Symphony of Youth Series at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. Mishy and I had the pleasure of being part of the audience this Saturday where we witnessed Joshua Weilerstein conduct the L.A. Philharmonic, joined by legendary jazz pianist John Beasley and his band. They were talking about jaaaazzzzz. That’s how John Beasley told the audience to pronounce it – “With a little bit of funk. Jaaaazzzz.”

This concert series is geared for children aged 5-11 years old. Mishy is 3 years old and she was enthralled as were older members of the audience who attended with no children at all. They simply came for the desire of hearing great music and great music we heard! The performance was seamless. The musicians tuned their instruments, then there was a pause as the first violinest walked on stage. I love this procession. The audience members clapped and then Joshua or Josh, as he was referred to during the concert, walked on stage to more claps and immediately the philharmonic played Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Finale. My soul was in bliss. As Josh Weilerstein introduced himself, the audience member heard some scatting growing increasingly louder as John Beasley walked on stage and was happily introduced.

John Beasley entertainingly talked about jazz – and then his band members came on stage to play. Different sections of music was played in jazz style and then in classical style and vice versa. It was fascinating to hear the same piece of music played in different styles. Mishy asked if it was the same piece or different, if it was being played by the same instruments or different, and what instrument was being played. This was music to my ears because I thought – yes, she gets it!  She’s interested and intrigued.

The concert ended with two versions of Itsy Bitsy Spider – and this included audience participation. We were to sing the lyrics as John Beasley’s band played. Mishy sang with gusto and clapped with the same excitement once the concert was sadly over.

Every parent deserves to take their children to see the Toyota Symphony of Youth concerts – so they can hear world class music in a beautiful space while their children are wonderfully exposed to the power of music. Next year, as soon as tickets are available, we are subscribing to all of the concerts in this series.

Details:

http://www.laphil.com/tickets/performance-detail.cfm?id=4426

The last concert for this season is on April 23rd and 30th, 2011 at 11AM. It is: The Hero Composer, conducted by David Afkham, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. One hour prior to each concert, there are various art, music, and dance activities in the lobby of the Music Center.

(We were given press tickets to attend the concert.)

Ozomatli Answers!

February 23, 2011

Ozomatli

Ozomatli has declared 2011 to be the year to focus on oZokidZ! They will be performing at The Canyon Club on March 5th at 3PM, doors open at 2PM. They will also be performing at McCabes on March 13th at 11AM.

Here is our interview with Wil-Dog. His answers are italicized.

Because it’s fascinating how the band formed, please let us know in your own words and how the original band members met and came to play so many different types of music.

Each band member has their own unique experience of running into other future band members prior of us becoming Ozomatli in the LA City school system. Whether it be in a music summer program or some kind of band settings or school band meetings. When we got together it started with one person calling one of our friends and that person calling another friend and so on and so forth. We invited musicians to come participate in a benefit concert for a youth center in Downtown LA that we started called “The Peace and Justice Center”. When we had our first rehearsal, we had such an eclectic mix of musicians with so many styles of music that we each took turns showing each other the music we were into at that time. We created our own songs out of those styles. We were pretty much open to anything as long as it made people dance.

Why and when did you start OzoKids?

Mario, our drummer now of 8 years, thought it would be cool about two years ago to do an Ozokidz record. At that point it was just an idea, no one saw much of it. Then February 2010 we were playing at the House of Blues Chicago on a Monday or Tuesday night. We have always been fortunate at the HOB Chicago and never had a problem selling tickets there, but this specific night was different. I didn’t know why we weren’t selling tickets so I went on our Facebook and asked people in Chicago if they wanted to come to our show for free – basically giving them tickets. I received so many responses back saying, “I’d love to come but I can’t get a babysitter”. We realized that a lot of our fans now are having children themselves so we decided to develop a concert that Ozo fans can bring their children to. Now that we started to do these children shows we’re realizing that we need to actually create a whole different show that really engages children. That this isn’t for parents necessarily but parents can enjoy it as well. We realize that we really need to start with the kids and entertain them and give them something to walk away with.

Do you play different music at an OzoKids show?

Yes we play some of Ozomatli classics that are high energy that children will enjoy but we also have a whole slew of songs that are just for kids shows that we don’t play at regular Ozomatli shows. We explain to the kids how to put on a show  and the kids in the audience become Ozokidz stage crew members.

Are any special effects toned down for the children’s concerts or will there still be a big truck?  

Well the difference is that we keep the volume very low at the kids show and there’s no acoustic sounds coming off the stage. It’s all being controlled by the sound person at the front of house. Kids of all ages can enjoy it without hurting their ears.

Do any of the members have kids themselves?

Yes, many of us have children and we learn from our children what works and what doesn’t prior to bringing it to a concert setting. Our children also develop different ideas that have been implemented into the show such as a VIP kids only section, other characters in the show that we use, as well as Asdru’s daughter is actually singing lead on one of the songs.

A fan seems to remember the group occasionally performing under a pseudonym – how did that come to be and why?

The reason why we use pseudonyms is because sometimes we don’t have everyone in the band performing or contractually we cannot use the name Ozomatli during that time period.

The groups has changed group members several times – is there a policy in the band regarding this change – how are new members incorporated?

I think how it started was, we started with 10 people in the band with our first album. During the 2nd record we had 4 members leave the band at the same time. For many years we tried to fill those spots with other people. That eventually wouldn’t work out so we would try to fill it again with someone else. The further away we got from the original line up, we realized that those people were irreplaceable to begin with so we decided to move on with the group we had. Now we have the original 6 members plus Mario, who has been on drums for 8 years.

What was it like to become cultural ambassadors for the State Department under the Bush Administration? What were your experiences being cultural ambassadors during that time period?

In the beginning we were really concerned with working with the State Department during that time, but after doing those trips we realized that there are a lot of different individuals working in the State Department. In a way I think, some of those people asking us to participate in these tours was their way of protesting against the Bush Administration by bringing us. It was a great experience – learning more about the world and being able to exchange music and art with so many different cultures and also playing for thousands of children. We took away lots of inspiration and energy and put that into our music.

How did the decision come to be to continue promoting your second album, Embrace The Chaos, after September 11th, 2001?

I don’t think it was necessarily about promoting our album anymore. Our album was pretty much done and no one was buying anything, but we thought it was important to continue to play. Actually, one of our first stops was in NYC just 14 days after September 11. Pretty much everyone in the audience knew someone or had a family member die in the world trade center. During that show, we realized that our music brought some healing to those people. Everybody in the audience thanked us for coming and not avoiding the city. So after that experience, we knew we were doing the right thing.

Details:

Ozomatli

www.ozomatli.com

The Canyon Club

http://www.canyonclub.net/

McCabes Concert Listings

http://www.mccabes.com/condata.html


Nadine, an amazing homeschooling mother for her varied and fun field trips, organized a field trip for fellow homeschoolers to visit The Da Vinci Exhibit in Hollywood. It’s an interactive exhibit with replicas of many of da Vinci’s inventions. It includes a military gallery, a transportation gallery, and a mechanical gallery. His inventions include a glider, bicycle, water shoes, and a chamber of mirrors – which was Mishy’s favorite invention. (She loved saying hello and good bye to her and my many reflections.) It was fascinating to go through the galleries and see how his inventions are used today – his mechanical pulley invention for elevators, for example. The exhibit isn’t big and we were able to see the entire exhibit in an hour. There is a short film about Leonardo da Vinci – which we missed – Mishy was more interested in pulling the various levers of the inventions and trying to figure out how they worked. The people who work at the exhibit were incredibly enthusiastic and enjoyed having the museum filled with homeschoolers. One even mentioned, it felt like the best part of Thanksgiving – when all the family is there to play.

Parking is inside the Hollywood and Highland Center. It’s $2 for 4 hours of parking. Be sure to get your tickets validated before exiting the exhibit. There are plenty of places to eat in the area – including Chado Tea Room at the h.Wood – I love the simple elegance and restful quality I feel at the various Chado Tea Rooms in the Los Angeles area.

Details:

The Da Vinci Exhibit

Hollywood and Highland Center (across from the Kodak Theatre) 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90024

For additional information and tickets, call: 888 998 4624

The exhibit runs until December 31st, 2011.

www.davincihollywood.org

I just saw that for the next four days, the exhibit is on sale at perks daily. Here is the link to get $6 admission. The regular price is $18.

http://www.perksdaily.com/

Chado Tea Room at H. Wood

http://www.chadotea.com/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/chado-tea-room-hollywood

Super Ozomatli Giveaway

February 23, 2011

Ozomatli, the Grammy award winning band and former U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors, whose mission has been to promote peace has made 2011 a year to focus on oZokidZ and will be performing a couple of upcoming concerts in the Los Angeles area before embarking on a country wide tour. Their music is a blend of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga— and has long followed a key mantra: it will take you around the world by taking you around L.A.

Interested in reading more about Ozomatli? Here is my interview with Wil-Dog.

https://mjmiaoren.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/ozomatli-answers/

I am extremely excited to offer 10 pairs of ticket to see Ozokids at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills on Saturday, March 5th, 2011. The show starts at 3PM, with doors opening at 2PM. Just comment below. If you take a look at their website and comment again, you will gain an additional entry. If you take a look at The Canyon Club’s website and comment again, you will gain one more entry. Good luck. The contest ends on midnight, March 1st, 2011. Mishy will pick out the 10 lucky winners. I will announce the winners by March 3rd, 2011.

Want to enter more giveaways? Here are the links of two more I have right now:

http://wp.me/pN7Op-jz

http://wp.me/pN7Op-ip

I will have a lot more upcoming giveaways on March 1st.

Details:

Ozomatli

www.ozomatli.com

The Canyon Club

http://www.canyonclub.net/

Interesting tidbits:

The City of Los Angeles has officially declared April 23rd, 2010 as “Ozomatli Day”, in perpetuity. Ozomatli were also recipients of the 2010 Local Heroes Award by Los Angeles PBS stationKCET-TV, recognizing the band’s longstanding accomplishments and community service throughout Southern California.

UPDATE: Congratulations to all of the winners! You’ve been notified by email.

Mishy made her Babba wear both her hat and his.

My husband was away in Singapore for five days. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of time, it was difficult for both Mishy and me. We don’t have any babysitter or family around, and my daughter is not enrolled in preschool so during that time, it was just me. While I don’t traditionally get a lot of time to myself when my husband is around, those few minutes here and there and the occasional evening when my husband takes our daughter to the playground, are times I need for myself – to re-group, get refreshed, and do things for me. (While those things for me tend to be blogging or organizing field trips, it still is my time.) My husband has gone on short business trips before. Maybe it was the distance and the fact that on two days, we didn’t have any correspondence with him because he was on a plane and maybe it was also because I was busy putting the final details of our daughter’s birthday party – and maybe because we usually go on long trips together – this time, it was really hard on all of us to be away from each other. When my husband landed, from a private plane no less, my daughter was very excited to see him and we made our way to the Arboretum of Los Angeles County – a place we had visited before as a family.

There are many things I love about the Arboretum – the freely roaming peacocks, the tram that takes you around the area, the easy parking, the gift shop where you may buy some beautiful flowers and cacti, the waterfall, the beautiful plants, and plenty of grassy areas to run on. (They also offer children’s programs such as story times and host special events such as weddings.)

Mishy and Babba running around in the wedding area.

Mishy and Babby looking at the pond while the geese lay on the grass.

Details:

Arboretum of Los Angeles County

http://www.arboretum.org/

Bonus information:

The arboretum is very close to our favorite dumpling place in Los Angeles – Din Tai Fung. We headed there afterwards where Mishy let the hostess know on the way out, “I really like your food. You know how to make noodles and dumplings.” We usually order the fish dumplings, shrimp rice cakes, steamed vegetables, sesame noodles, and red bean dumplings. The sesame noodles have a kick to it.

http://www.dintaifungusa.com/

Here’s Din Tai Fung’s review on Yelp:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/din-tai-fung-dumpling-house-arcadia

Mishy playing do and mi.

I love when things seredipidusously happen. I enter giveaways because I like winning things and I do tend to win.  I won a family four pack of tickets to see Brooklyn based jazz musician, Oran Etkin in concert in October. Because we are a family of three, I offered the extra ticket on a yahoo group I own and co-moderate – Natural Parenting LA. Some of my friends are members of this yahoo group and I thought this would be the most diplomatic way to offer the extra the ticket. The person who won the ticket emailed me that night and asked if my daughter had ever participated in a music class taught by Oran. No, but I thought let’s see if it’s possible to organize one while he’s here. I remember emailing him and then her late into that night trying to figure out the details to see how this can happen. I got so excited about the possibilities.

Why? Because when my daughter was younger, I took her to a music class where a teacher with a guitar sings and passes around instruments to play and while it’s a way to connect with other parents, in terms of actual music learning – not really. More importantly, after that one class series, my daughter made it very clear she wanted nothing to do with music classes.  Yet, she’s showed a keen interest in music – notably piano and has been asking for a piano for over a year now. I had talked to piano teachers about giving my daughter lessons, and they said they don’t teach children until they are 4-6 years old. Mishy was 1.5 years old when she started asking to play piano. I did investigate the Suzuki method and found a good Suzuki violin teacher, but Mishy said she wanted to learn piano. I thought maybe the ideal situation would be to find a class that taught music in a child friendly way and I thought perhaps Oran’s music class would be the answer.

During my early correspondence with Oran, he told me the class would be special. And it is. Musical concepts such as beats, high/low notes, hearing notes in music, parts of an instrument, classification of instruments, being introduced to non traditional instruments, and so many more are done in respectful, fun ways. His classes are entirely refreshing, enjoyable and most importantly, they are taught in a way that get into your bones so music becomes natural and comprehensive . After the first class, Mishy started becoming curious about all the instruments I had bought during our travels. We started having parades on our street and concerts at home and she wanted to go to concerts and learn – really learn about music – which made me incredibly happy because I love going to concerts and being surrounded by music as well.

When Oran wrote to me in December and let me know he would be in Los Angeles again to celebrate his nomination and attend the Grammy ceremony – he has been nominated for his work on the CD, Healthy Food For Thought – I jumped at the opportunity to host two more classes and help spread the word about his classes. (He taught at a friend’s daughter’s preschool and a homeschooling group as well as two other private classes during his recent time here.) He teaches children from 0-12 years of age and private classes are 6-12 participants. Los Angeles based parents, he will be returning in the summer, most likely June 2011! Consider your children very lucky if they get an opportunity to have him as a teacher. (Oran teaches classes in New York regularly, when not traveling with his band.)

Learning about the caxixis - pronounced cashishi

Details:

http://www.oranetkin.com/

http://timbalooloo.com/

Mishy, me, and Justin Roberts.

Mishy, Babba and I had the absolute pleasure of being part of the audience at the Children’s Grammy Nominee Concert at The Mint in Los Angeles. We had never been to The  Mint before and we didn’t know what to expect. We parked on a side street and arrived early only to have our dear daughter terribly thirsty so we went into the local CVS drugstore where we found her favorite protein shake. They had no straws so Babba went to the local 7-11 and asked for a straw while Mishy asked for her protein shake with a straw and all I could tell her was that she really wanted a straw and was thirsty and it was on the way while I said hello to some friends.

At the door, Grammy nominee, Judy Pancoast greeted everyone as they entered by asking the children their names and wondering if they were ready to dance. Mishy was ready to dance and so was I. I love to dance, to move my head, and feel the music. Dancing to me is re-living my late teens and early 20’s when I was so carefree. Life right now isn’t so bad either though sometimes I do miss those carefree days when I could go in a car, or bus, or train, or plane and visit friends on a moments notice.

Mishy jumping on the dance area.

The Mint was smaller than what I had expected and I was a bit worried there wouldn’t be enough room to dance – even though there was a small section of the front taped off for children to dance. But what about having room for the parents? I love to dance with Mishy and have her lead. I love watching her shake her head and jump up and down and sway and twist her body. I love being her support as she balances on one leg as she moves to the beat. All of my worries and concerns melted away once the music began and how great the music was!

Enjoying listening to the Battersby Duo

To start the show were The Battersby Duo. The Battersby Duo are considered a “National Treasure,” by Senator Bob Graham of Florida. They bring an incredibly relaxed, silly, and fun presence to the stage which made me feel yes, it was worth rushing my daughter out the door this morning to drive 20 minutes to a concert that lasts for an hour. This feeling continued as Bill Harley came on stage and told us a hilarious story about a boy waiting for his father to go fishing. The children and adults were in stitches. This man has a way with words and no wonder, he’s been called, “The Mark Twain of contemporary children’s music, by Entertainment Weekly. Continuing the show was Oran Etkin performing on his clarinet  his song, Unique Monique, with performers from the Grammy Nominated CD – Health Food For Thought. Oran Etkin is an incredibly charismatic performer whom I will be posting more about. (Mishy and I have had the pleasure of taking group classes with him while he’s in Los Angeles.)

Rounding off the performances was Judy Pancoast whose saucy blend of Mother Goose Nursery rhymes had the audience screaming in delight. And finally, there was Justin Roberts and his band, Not Ready For the Nap Time Players – who simply rock! I played Justin Roberts to Mishy when she was 4 months old. She wasn’t ready for his comical and kid perspective rock and roll. Now, she loves them and so do I. Since we go on a lot of car trips, I am incredibly thankful for this because though she doesn’t let me sing, “Momma, don’t sing!” I can sing inside my head while we drive to all our adventures. Thank you, Justin Roberts for existing and devoting your career to letting parents still enjoy rock and roll while their children do too! (Justin Roberts told me he will be headed back to Los Angeles in April for the Los Angeles Times Book Fair. Yeah!)

All net proceeds from the concert benefited  Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation(http://www.mhopus.org).

The family with Oran Etkin - after the concert

(Full disclosure: we were given one complimentary ticket for the concert. We paid for two others.)

Details:

Judy Pancoast

http://www.judypancoast.com/

The Battersby Duo

http://www.battersbyduo.com/

Bill Harley

http://www.billharley.com/

Oran Etkin

http://www.oranetkin.com/

Justin Roberts

http://www.justinroberts.org/