Creative ways to make and listen to music as a family

A new book from folk singers Nerissa Nields and Katryna Nields offers all families –even the ones who don’t consider themselves “musical”– ideas and instruction. From “Keeping the Beat” through “Musical Games and Play” and “Family Traditions” this guide will enlighten and entertain you.

Besides being professional musicians, the Nields also teach songwriting, lead kids music classes and write catchy, educational, and truly enjoyable children’s music that parents won’t mind hearing and singing again and again. A 30 song CD of music from the book is included in the back.

In this book, you’ll get to know the entire Nields family, hear stories about their musical and parenting experiences, enjoy basic music instruction for you and your family, plus learn the stories and hand motions behind the folks songs and original music that they include in this collection. They will even teach you how to play the guitar!

I found Appendix B on Quick and Easy Music Theory helpful, as I meet one of the key criteria in their assumptions about the reader’s background — “You know nothing.” I’m enthusiastic but unschooled, which makes a book like this so

Family Musical Canon

I loved the Appendix called “Songs for Every Ocassion” which introduced me to the concept of a family musical canon — the list is always a work in progress, but the idea is to write down the 25 most familiar songs that your family sings or listens to together (currently) and also make a list with the people you grew up with, and have other family groups do the same. It’s like a mix-tape of favorites, but songs that you sing together.

I’m a Fan, Obviously

I’ve been a fan of the Nields for a long time. It’s a lovely phenomenon when your favorite artists start having babies and making music or books for children right around the time that you yourself are looking for great music and books to share with your own kids.

In this family video from 2008, see me and my family trying some improvisational singing with a toddler, which leads to hilarious results. We were singing the song “Organic Farm” from Nerissa Nields’ “Rock All Day/Rock All Night” album. We had just been to the Topeka zoo though, and Colin has MANY suggestions for additional animals on the farm! You may notice, we aren’t professional singers. Our kids don’t care -that’s sort of the point. What could have been a boring car ride was instead a fun musical memory together.

Check it out

Check out All Together Singing in the Kitchen: creative ways to make & listen to music as a family by Nerissa Nields and Katryna Nields and start singing in your kitchen, your living room, your car, your shower, at breakfast, at bedtime, and anytime you are together with your kids

What’s in your family music canon?

What songs are part of your current family musical canon? What songs do you sing with your children often? What songs do you remember singing together while growing up? Share your song lists in the comment!

Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, Community Novel Project leader, HUSH podcaster, and frequent library customer. She reads a new book every few days, but recently enjoyed Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley.