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    Modern Day Von Trapp Family

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    Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. Only “Sound of Music” buffs will catch that reference. It will always be one of my personal favorite movies. The story of a talented family of singers and musicians based in 1930’s Austria, a very volatile time in our world history. The Von Trapp Family Singers were like a breath of fresh air and their story has been passed on through the generations. Well here’s another breath of fresh air for our own modern day upheavals. The Kanneh-Mason family of musicians.

    The Kanneh-Masons came to the awareness of the masses through the hit tv show Britain’s Got Talent. The one and only Simon Cowell labeled them as the most talented family in the world. The Kanneh-Masons are 6 brothers and sisters ranging in age from 10 to 19 years old. They play a mix of violin, viola, cello, and piano mostly in the style of classical music. These young musicians are so focused and driven it’s inspiring to watch. You can find out more about the Kanneh-Masons here www.KannehMasons.com

    They have upcoming concerts scheduled in Antigua, North Carolina, Nottingham, and New York City (to name a few).

    I’m sure we’ll be hearing lots more about this incredible family.

     

     

     

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    Music Therapy Helps Families

    It is well documented about music’s ability to make the brain a better, high-performing organ but a recent new story about a music therapy program for dysfunctional families made our hearts swell.

     

    Reuters reports on a study published in the Journal of Music Therapy that shows how music therapy can be just as effective as traditional programs for helping to repair and rebuild dysfunctional families. Researchers identified 18 families in which the children were on the verge of being removed from their parents due to emotional neglect. Half of the families were exposed to music therapy programs that involved playing instruments, listening to music and playing musical games with the presence of a therapist. The other half of the participants underwent more traditional treatment.

     

    After six to 10 music therapy sessions, parents said they felt less stressed by their children’s moods and felt more empathetic toward them and, overall, reported having less negative feelings toward them.

     

    Yet, all families can benefit from shared musical experiences, not just those who attend formalized music therapy sessions, says Stine Jacobsen who led the study.

     

    “Singing together or singing for your infant or toddler can be a very intimate bonding activity and comes naturally for some families,” Jacobson says. “The earlier you start interacting nonverbally with your child in a meaningful way the more you might see or feel the benefit.”

     

    So sing out loud with your children. Dance in silly ways and listening to your favorite songs. It just might make your family stronger.

     

    The benefits of music therapy has been well documented in other patients. Read our blog post about music therapy’s effectiveness for Alzheimer’s patients.

     

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    Live Holiday Entertainment for the Family

    There are so many reasons to love the winter holidays: the twinkling lights on houses, a free excuse to drink hot chocolate (regardless of LA temps) and the music. As an added bonus to families, this is also the best time to go to the theater. We’ve picked some local productions that intersperse art and music that we think you will like.

     

     

    SLEEPING BEAUTY and Her Winter Knight — Pasadena Playhouse from Dec. 10 – Jan. 4

    With a live pony, Pharrell’s “Happy” playing the background and Xena, Warrior Princess making an appearance, this is not your ordinary play. This kid-friendly production offers a unique take on the fairy tale classic in the style of British Panto, which means you should expect comedy, audience participation and lots of physicality …just what young kids love!

    Before every performance, the playhouse offers crafts, activities, even an appearance from Santa Claus.

     

    Rogue Family Series — Atwater Village Theatre from Dec. 20-21

    This series has two shows — Zen Shorts and The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone — which offers puppets, original music and video projections that are sure to keep the youngest theater-goer on her toes. At $10 a show (or $15 to see both), it is also one of the more affordable holiday theater outings. Between shows, children can decorate cookies and participate in other activities.

     

     

    Nutcracker— The  Bob Baker Marionette Theater,  now until Feb. 1

    Everything about this show is like taking a step back in time. The marionettes, which seem to magically come to life with just a few wrist movements from their puppeteers, are unlike most puppets you see today. The theater which is red and ornate is also something to be treasured. This is a very kid-focused production in which the chairs are only in the back for adults. The kids sit up front, all the better to view these magical puppets.

     

     

    A Christmas Carol — Glendale Centre Theatre, now until Dec. 24

    For a more traditional theater experience see this Charles Dickens classic that is mean to renew the human spirit. The production sold out its first weekend so get tickets as soon as you can!

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    Stevie Wonder performs “Songs in the Key of Life” album at Nokia Center

    Stevie Wonder has been performing wonderful holiday shows annually in Los Angeles for 18 years now to raise funds for the collection of toys for needy children in the Southland.  These holiday performances are a great musical event for families to attend, and always include special guest celebrities and well-known local talent to flesh out the fun program.

    For this year’s show at the Nokia Center in LA, however, Stevie decided to do something special and perform the entire song collection from his hit album, Songs in the Key of Life.  Cited by Elton John as the greatest album of all time, this album includes well-known Stevie Wonder songs like “Isn’t She Lovely,” “I Wish,” and “Sir Duke.”  I recommend listening frequently to this album – it’s addictive!  “Village Ghetto Land” is one of my favorites, for how musically beautiful the song is, and how poignant the lyrics are.

    The show began with Stevie Wonder coming onto the stage with his family to introduce the program, and his son and grandsons made a reappearance in some of his later performances.  Special guests this year included John Mayer, Chick Corea, & Herbie Hancock among others.  The show opened with five male singers performing the beautiful a cappella introduction of “Love’s in Need of Love Today.”  Other highlights included the West Angeles Church of God in Christ Gospel Choir directed by Jason White, who also kicked off the show, singing their hearts outs on traditional gospel repertoire.

    This was an overall wonderful performance and I highly recommend it as must-do family event every year!

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