Musical Adventures

Welcome to my page about Musical Adventures. These are interactive musical stories for children and their families. Click on the picture to the right to purchase a recording of four Musical Adventures!

Based on the California Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Standards, each of our Musical Adventures stories teaches core musical concepts such as rhythm, pitch, volume, meter, tone color and mood.  See below for suggestions on incorporating movement into your child’s enjoyment of these stories.

Track 1

Lesanju the Elephant
Music Lesson: Meter and Dynamics

Each of the main songs in Lesanju the Elephant represent a common time signature (meter) found in music.  These are 2/2 (cut time), 4/4 (common time) and 3/4 (waltz time).  While any movement which emphasizes the downbeats (the places where you naturally find yourself swaying) will help your child develop an awareness of rhythm, suggested movements include walking or tapping along with Lesanju and Jasper, reaching up and pretending to swing through the branches with Roku, and swaying along with Neen as she flies.  For examples of movements to use, see excerpts from a performance of Lesanju the Elephant below:

Lesanju also teaches about dynamics by using characters in the story to display different kinds of movement.  Jasper the Lion moves quietly, while Lesanju the Elephant moves loudly.   The music which accompanies these characters is piano or forte (soft or loud).  Encourage your child to move about quietly like Jasper would, and to move about loudly with Lesanju.   Point out the difference between the two kinds of moving.

Track 2

Dunley Rabbit, P.I. and the Case of the Mysterious Map
Music Lesson: Accellerando and Powers of Observation

In this episode from the Dunley series, children are introduced to accellerando, or a speeding up within music.  Encourage your child to walk, hop, or run about along with the characters in the story.  At first they will move at an Andante (walking tempo), but as the story progresses the characters will move faster and faster.  Point out to your child that the music is getting faster, and that they should, in turn, move faster.

Dunley gets a lot of help from his friends throughout his adventures, but one important skill that helps him solve mysteries are his Powers of Observation.  Throughout the story you and your child will hear strange sounds that Dunley must make sense of.  When a new sound is introduced, stop and ask your child, “What is that?”  Model listening to the sound and thinking about what the new sound might be.

Track 3

Rudolfo and the Mambo
Music Lesson: Latin Rhythms and Instrument Recognition

In this Musical Adventure, Rudolfo the Flower learns to dance the mambo with help from his friends the wind, the rain and the ladybugs.  Each of the elements of the final mambo (melodic intervals, syncopated rhythms and bass line) are introduced during the songs of these supportive characters.  In this way, children interact with the elements of the final mambo throughout the story, and can listen for each as it is performed in the cumulative whole of the finale.

Suggested movements for this story include swaying from side to side with the wind, nodding the head along with the raindrops, and tapping the feet along with the ladybugs.  In the finale, all these movements can be brought together, or, for younger children, the finale can be used for free movement.  When music has strong rhythmic elements children will often move along with the music in a naturally rhythmic way.

In order to work on listening skills and instrument recognition, Berger the Bee is always represented by a chromatic line in the bassoon.  Encourage your child to make a buzzing sound along with Berger when they hear him enter the story.  At first Berger is introduced through the narration, but this introduction is phased out, so that by the end of the story children are responding just to the sound of the bassoon.

Track 4

Dunley Rabbit, P.I. and the Case of the Mysterious Something
Music Lesson: Tempo and Pitch

In this episode from the Dunley series, children are introduced to slow vs. fast (Largo vs. Allegro) in music. Edgar the Turtle’s theme is quite slow (Largo), while Dunley moves fast (Allegro). Encourage your child to move slowly when Edgar is active in the story, and to move quickly along with Dunley.  In this way, children come to associate not just a melody (also called a leitmotif or idee fixe) with a particular character in the story, but a tempo.  Suggested movements include walking, hopping and/or tapping and clapping.

When Dunley encounters an echo in the story, children can participate in a call and response “echo game.”  You will hear background singers helping with the response portion.  As you and your child sing along, you will first interact with sung pitches, and then with changing pitches on the clarinet as a background ensemble changes harmonies.  This type of musical play develops core listening skills, as your child must differentiate the melody, match pitches being performed for them, and listen for new pitches as the song progresses.