The September school holidays are flying by for Team Charming this year; mainly because we’ve been lucky enough to embrace ‘festival season’ in Brisbane to its fullest. We’ve taken in some cracking good live shows and enjoyed everything from contemporary circus to chalk art. Head to Families Magazine to read my reviews of Brisbane Festival events, including Flown and The Luck Child.
But yesterday, it was all about music for the kids as we headed to the Gold Coast to meet TV favourite Lah-Lah and her big live band!
TV faves bring music education to the stage
If you have pre-schoolers in the house, you’ve probably come across Lah-Lah’s Adventures – a big hit on ABC Kids, then 7TWO in Australia, now busily making its way around the world. In each episode, talented songstress Lah-Lah and her musician friends get caught up in quirky little adventures that usually require team work and a generous dose of music therapy to be resolved. It’s perfectly pitched at 2-6 year olds, with all the bold colours, gently funny story lines and uplifting tunes you’d expect in entertainment for this age group. But there’s actually a lot more going on than meets the eye (or ears) in this impressive spin on music education for kids.
We were lucky enough to position ourselves front and centre for Lah-Lah Live In Concert; right in the mosh pit, amidst the stripy socked devotees. It was lovely to see the children around me dancing non-stop for the entire show, with only momentary down-time to concentrate on Twinkle Twinkle hand actions.
The jam-packed show held the attention of even the youngest in the room for the full 60 minutes, with plenty of dancing, shouting and interaction fully encouraged. My big girls (7 & 8), who are too cool for ‘baby shows’ these days, loved every minute of this one – and there were plenty of grown ups on their feet by the finale, too. There is no particular story to this live show, just back to back song favourites like Brush Your Teeth and Shake It Like This, which seemed to suit the room just fine.
Lah-Lah, Lola and learning to love music
Sitting mesmerized on the floor, trying not to have my fingers stomped on by moving, grooving little people, I was blown away by the musical talents on stage. Parents become accustomed to grinning and bearing repetitive, kid-friendly music. We’ve all had that feeling of ‘enduring’ a sing-song CD on a long car trip and longing to get back to some ‘real music’. But if you tune in a little to Lah-Lah’s songs, you’ll actually find a sophisticated blend of big-band-gypsy-folk-swing that would be quite at home in a late night jazz club (if you ignored the fact that the lyrics are about things like brushing your teeth). These songs are still joyful and silly and fun, but they’re certainly not ‘simple’ compositions.
Lah-Lah and her band are accomplished, classically trained performers with a passion for music education, and they’re raising the bar when it comes to music for kids. The rhyming and repetition is still there in the lyrics, but it’s part of a careful plan to help kids engage with a range of instruments, complex rhythms and changes of pace that take the listener by surprise. This is music to keep you on your toes – in more ways than one!
At our show, the band also spent plenty of time chatting with the audience and jumping into photos. My Mr 4 was especially taken with Lola, the double bass, and her handler Buzz the Bandleader. Buzz shared some stories about Lola’s showbiz past (why does Copacabana spring to mind?) including 40-odd years with a symphony orchestra. Like the band members themselves, Lola played music for many years before joining the Lah-Lah family and that depth of experience is evident in the tunes they now produce together.
Buzz invited my kids to take Lola for a spin, plucking strings, exploring her curves and – importantly – getting a really solid understanding of what a double bass looks and sounds like. Consequently, Miss 7 was playing ‘air double bass’ in the car on the way home and Mr 4 could confidently explain that it’s not just the strings that make the sound, it’s Lola’s ‘big empty tummy’ that helps us hear the music. I love it when the kids learn something without realising they’ve even had a lesson!
There’s nothing wrong with live music for kids that exists purely for a bit of fun, but in this case my kids walked away both entertained and educated, which is a lot more rewarding. Kids’ music certainly doesn’t have to be so-so, especially when you’re listening to Lah-Lah.
Visit the Lah-Lah website for more info on the current Australian tour dates.
(NB: I was gifted a family pass to see Lah-Lah live and a meet-and-greet opportunity, but all opinions are my own.)