About Tigers and Teapots

Donkey and wagon

Children love to sing, and singing can play a powerful role in a child’s emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development.

The songs in this collection have been chosen for their value in the earliest stages of music education and are sung all over the English-speaking world.  Most are from England or America, some are Australian (including a beautiful Aboriginal lullaby), and others are translations of songs from Wales (Suo Gan), France (Sleep, Sleep), Russia (The Birch Tree), Hungary (Little Mouse Be Careful) or Finland (The Witch Song).  

Nearly all of the pieces are folk songs. Using traditional words and music means we can be sure that children are singing songs that have stood the test of time.  Many of the songs are associated with games and dances that add to the enjoyment of the music. Through knowing these songs, a child’s imagination is enriched, allowing the creation of an inner world of great beauty.

Australian children’s author Mem Fox wrote that children “need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.” Similarly, a child who knows a hundred songs is well prepared to develop real fluency in reading music, as well as writing, understanding and performing it.  Hungarian composer and educator Zoltan Kodály put this another way, claiming that the basis for music education should be the child’s “musical mother tongue”. We hope that the forty songs on this CD will contribute to the musical mother tongue of many children. 

A crucial ingredient in this process is the engagement of mums and dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, teachers and friends, helping to make singing an everyday part of the lives of children.  As parents, we can often feel anxious about singing to our children. Sometimes this is beacuse we have a low opinion of our own abilities. But while few of us are destined to be singing superstars, not many of us sing as badly as we think! Young children love to hear mum and dad sing, no matter the quality, and the best way to improve is to practice. 

Sometimes we’re held back by not knowing what to sing. Hopefully, this collection will provide a great starting point, as well the inspiration for further exploration and enjoyment. 

Many people have assisted in bringing this CD to life. The initial inspiration for the project was my encounter with Géza and Csaba Szilvay, creators of the Colourstrings curriculum.  It was their curriculum and their example that compelled me to turn my attention towards teaching children.  László Rossa, the composer of the many volumes of repertoire for Colourstrings is acknowledged as an inspirational source of guidance with regard to composing for students.  Extra thanks are due to 
Géza Szilvay for suggestions about orchestration, pedagogical design and bowings in the string orchestra writing.  

For advice regarding song selection and educational design of the arrangements I am indebted to many people - in particular Julie Logan, Deanna Hoermann, Maree Hennessy, James Cuskelly and Tess Laird.

The Waratah Girls Choir and its directors, Wynette Horne and Lindy Connett, have been behind this project from its inception, and, along with Julie Logan's do-re-mi students and the orchestra of Hunter Strings at the (Newcastle Conservaotorium of Music) have premiered many of the songs on the CD.  

Three people have been essential to the creation of the final product, and I am greatly indebted to Ross Sheard (Recording Engineer and Producer), Liz Anelli (Artist) and Bryce Amner (designer).