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




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.)


Judy Pancoast


The Battersby Duo


Bill Harley


Oran Etkin


Justin Roberts