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Friday, November 9, 2012

HARMONIZE, my small business venture, my labor of love for the last decade, has sung its final lullaby.

We held our last class today. Ten years. 3,704 children. Hundreds of classes. Thousands of songs. Millions of smiles.

We've facilitated a myriad of friendships, and we have one marriage to our credit! Two boys who were in my first class in January, 2002 are in juniors in high school
this year.

It's been a wild, yet sweet, ride. God has blessed me to have shared ten years of happy mornings with the purity of little children.

Heartfelt thanks to Tanner Carlock, Zoe Jade, Eva Tess, Dea Viola, Kerry Jean Narewski, and Rickman for their talent, energy, support, and love. But, mostly, I thank the families of my sweet little angels, who made this endeavor one of joy.

The sun has said goodnight
The stars are all in bloom
And streams of pale moonlight
Come dancing in your room

So close your tired eyes

And drift off to your dreams
With soft, sweet lullabies,
A kiss, and pale moonbeams.


Much love to you all,

Alisa ♥

Saturday, May 5, 2012

BaristaKids: Coffee with Alisa Harmon



Coffee With….Alisa Harmon, Director Music for Aardvarks in Montclair
BY  |  Monday, Mar 12, 2012 1:30pm

Alisa Harmon wears many different hats—Director, Montclair Music For Aardvarks and Other Mammals, Certified Teacher at the Developmental Learning Center (DLC) in Montclair, Parents Who Rock performer and band member—and mother to her 3 children, Tanner, Zoe, and Eva.
As the owner of HARMONIZE and Director of Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals (MFA) in Montclair, Alisa epitomizes a groovy approach to playing and teaching music. MFA is a departure from the “sweet and cuddly” approach to music education for young children. Whether she’s singing about snow or babysitters, city life, or aging grandparents, fire engines or bagels, or even the Guggenheim, Alisa brings a sense of whimsy and joy to her classes. There are also fun instruments, sign language interludes and at least 10 minutes of zany dancing.

Barista Kids appreciates that Alisa took time out to chat with Nicole Gray-Chan about music, multitasking and the lessons she’s learned along the way…

Q: How long have you been singing?
I have always been a musician. I grew up singing in church, doing a lot of solos. I was also in choral groups. During freshman year in high school, I was in a folk music band—The Budds. Then as a senior, I joined a rock and roll band, and I was also in a small madrigal group.

Q: You really are a multi-tasker.
Multi-tasking is what I do. I wear a lot of hats, but I’m most me when I’m singing. Singing for me is oxygen.

Q: Which vocalists inspire you most?
I used to fantasize about being Stevie Nicks.  Growing up, I listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and Heart—especially because I was in the South. I love the Eagles because of all of the harmony. Sometimes I would sing my own harmony lines against their songs. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Montclair and met Mark Walsh (the little brother of Joe Walsh from the Eagles)—and then started performing with him.

Q: You’re from the South?
We moved to Alabama from Oregon when I was 13. It was like a foreign country. I finished college there before heading to California as part of a church mission.

Q: When did you start teaching music to toddlers and preschoolers?
We moved to New York City in 1992, and I starting teaching Music Together in 1993. I taught Music Together for eight years. While teaching through the Music Together program I met David Weinstone, the founder and national director of MFA. Our family moved to Montclair in 2000, and I started teaching MFA in Montclair in 2001.

Q: What makes Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals so special?
Music for Aardvarks is not intended to be “perky.” It has a definite beat. It’s fresh and vibrant and goes beyond clich├ęs. MFA has an urbane sensibility. The first song, “Taxi,” which David introduced in the late 1990’s, really captures the attitude of the approach to the music.  (Cue melody: Taxi, taxi! Riding in the back seat. Roll the window up. Roll the window down. Put the money through the slot, “See ya later” “Thanks a lot.” Sure beats walking ‘cross town. )

The interesting thing about ‘Aardvarks’ songs is the dichotomy. Some of the songs are very simple, “Take me to the park, to the park, to the park, to the park, to the park.”

These songs are based on the best parts of life for children. I remember that during that time, every day, I picked up my kids and took them to the park. Another example is “Brush, brush, brush, brush, brush your teeth.” All of these things are relevant. You can say to your baby, “This is your music.” They can own this music.

But then, in a complete 180, there are the lullabies. The lullabies are full of musical genius. David uses a lot of jazz chords and the songs are so, so poetic. The imagery they evoke is amazing.

Rick Celano, my guitarist and Web master, and I get a tremendous amount of pleasure sharing this music with toddlers and their parents.
Q: The lullabies are really deep and nuanced. What is one of your favorites?
I have lots of favorites, but one of my favorite favorites is “Simple Things.” One part that really speaks to me is:  “The day will come, When you’ll be off and I’ll be all but done. You’ll leave this place, But, you’ll leave me with a smile on my face. The simple things, is the stuff of dreams. And I watch you sleep, in these precious days.”

Now that I am at the age that my children are almost “off,” I can recall those years when I sang this lullaby to them. Now, it has come to fruition in my life. In a sense, I’ve come full circle.

Q: There is a profound quality to this music, a sense of bittersweet joy and quiet longing. Do kids get it?
Remember, parents also listen to the music—and they pay attention to the lyrics. The kids understand the power of the melody and the lullaby calm that it imparts.

Q: Is there a story behind the name “Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals?”
I don’t think that there is a special reason that David chose “aardvarks,” though I should point out that “other mammals” is also part of the name.

Q: You are also an educator in the public school system.
Yes, I started working at the DLC, a preschool for children with special needs in Montclair, in 2002.  As a certified teacher there are many interesting things that I bring to teaching these students, including elements of occupational therapy, music therapy, speech therapy, and fine and gross motor skill development. When teaching, I use world music. Montclair is an incredibly diverse and open community—in a way that is absolutely unique—and I try to capture that in choosing from a selection of multi-ethnic music. Music is not mandated in special education, and I am pleased to be able to integrate this dimension into their early education.
Q: How long have you been involved with Parents Who Rock?
I met Alma Schneider, the Founder of PWR, when she brought her first child to Aardvarks. I was excited about singing with her and the other parents in the bands.  I’ve been pleased to be a part of such a great effort.

Q: There have been a lot of really big changes in your life recently, including some significant challenges. Yet, you seem as fresh and vital as ever. What exactly is going on?
My two-decades-old marriage was in its final stages when my husband (the father of my four children) made the choice to leave our family.  I had a small stroke in 2005, due to the stresses of my failing marriage.  As I lay in ICU, I realize that the thing I wanted most was be a mother to my children.  I’ve never missed one of my children’s events, and I am proud of that.  They are phenomenal people.

I am also growing personally and professionally. Currently, I’m in a Master’s program in Inclusive Early Childhood Education at Montclair State University.  I have also started a new business - life coaching for women over 40 who are navigating the treacherous waters of divorce.

One thing that I know with certainty: Nothing ruins your life forever!

Q: Your life is in full bloom—and it comes through in your music. What types of songs are you writing and singing now.
I’m always writing and singing songs. Recently, I wrote a poem/song, “Tapestry.” The point of the song is that I weave the strands of my life into a tapestry. It’s mine to weave…but also mine to take apart….

CD #10 Lyrics

Dirt
I like dirt.  Dirt's what's I dig
I like pokin' around with a big old twig.
I like makin' mud pies and getting' all messy,
'Cause I like dirt and dirt likes me.

Now you may say that I'm a kook
'Cause I like to play in globs of goop;
But that's ok 'cause I'm happy!
I like dirt and dirt likes me.

Everyone Up
Everyone up to start a new day
It’s gonna be a good day.

Everyone out and be on your way
It's gonna be a good day

Everyone's back with something to tell
Something to tell of their day

Everyone off, now it's time for bed
Goodnight, sleep tight sleepyheads.

Ouch!
I got a boo-boo here. I got a boo-boo there.
I bumped my nose and stubbed my toes,
I even I hurt my hair!
I cried and cried and cried some more
And then I finally stopped.
I got a special magic kiss
'Cause boo-boos hurt a lot!

Big Old Dog
Big ol' dog just layin' around
Scratchin' his big ol' fleas.
He don't fetch, won't chase, just takin' up space
Man, that dogs lazy!
But sometimes he says ruff, ruff, ruff

That big ol' hound just lays around,
A bonafide bump on a log
He gets tired and pale just waggin' his tail
Man, that's a lazy dog!
But sometimes he says ruff, ruff, ruff

Fingers
I can count my fingers one two three,
Four, five, six ,seven, eight, nine, ten.
I can make my fingers disappear --
Now they're gone, now they're here again!

I can count my toes, now that's easy
Ten little toes wigglin' on my feet.
I can make my toes all disappear --
Now they're gone, now they're here again!

Copycat Kid
That copycat kid does what I do.
I wave up high and she does, too.
I swing down low and so does she.
That copycat kid does just like me.

That copycat kid does what I do.
I clap clap clap and she does, too.
I slap slap slap so does she.
That copycat kid does just like me.

Daddy's Snorin'
I jumped up in the middle of the night,
I grabbed my teddy bear and I held on tight!
The whole house was shakin'
Gave me quite a fright!
But it was just my Daddy snorin'

Well, the phone ring-rang and I said, "Hello!"
It was Jigglin' Jane from down the road.
She said "My whole house is shakin',
What's going on?”
I said "It's just my Daddy snorin'"

Get a Life
My parents talk about me as if I wasn't there
They talk about my diapers,
They talk about my hair.
They talk about my sniffles,
And my snuggly, and my height.
If I could talk, I'd tell them  --
"Hey, you guys, get a life!"

Pizza Party
If I were mayor of this town
You know what I would say?
I declare that once a week be Pizza Party Day!
The crowd would cheer and jump and shout "Whoopee!" and "Hooray!"
"Oh thank you mayor! Thank you!
For Pizza Party Day!"

Spring Has Come
Winters' done, and Spring has come
Skies are blue the grass is green and warm
Flowers bloom and raise their faces to the sun
Spring has come.

Winter's gone, now Spring is on
The trees all spread their leaves
A robin sings its song
Children run and play all day in the sun
Spring has come.

Traffic Jam
I spy little eye something fun
We're going on vacation everyone
We're gettin' out of town just as fast as we can
Oh no! looks like a traffic jam!

I spy little eye something fun
Cruisin' in the car with the radio on
We're gettin' out of town now that's our plan
Oh no, looks like a traffic jam!

Oh, so slow even turtles go faster then we are! Let's go!

Goodnight
Rock-a-bye baby it won't be long
One magic kiss and a soft little song
Sleepy head eyes and a great big yawn or two
Goodnight, I love you.

Rock-a-bye baby sweetest of dreams
In honey-combed hills and rivers of cream
Big daffodils, orange and green and blue
Goodnight, I love you.

Goodnight to all and to all a goodnight
The stars have come out
And the moon’s shining bright
I'll see you again at first morning light anew
Goodnight, I love you.

Get Around
East Side, West Side, all around town
Sometimes I'm up; sometimes I'm down
To the bank, to the butcher, to the pastry shop
I get around town with a hop, hop, hop

East Side, West Side, all around town
Sometimes I'm up; sometimes I'm down
To the video store and the vegetable stand
I get around town, now catch me if you can

MUSIC for AARDVARKS CD #10

Saturday, January 7, 2012

CD #8 Lyrics

Birdie
Hey, there, little birdie, you sure sing purty.
Sittin’ on my window, woke me up early.
Did you have your breakfast? We’d better hurry
You can catch the worms and I’ll pick the berries.

Shhhh!
If you’re very, very quiet and you listen carefully
You can hear the wind, blowing through the trees.
There are lots of things that you can hear
That you cannot see,
If you’re very, very quiet and you listen carefully.

If you’re very, very quiet and you listen carefully
You can hear your breath every time you breathe.
There are lots of things that you can hear
That you cannot see,
If you’re very, very quiet and you listen carefully.


Big Brother/Sister
Little bitty baby all wrinkled and new
Not much little bitty baby can do
But that’s ok one day I’ll show you how
‘Cause I’m your big brother/sister now

Little bitty baby all wrinkled and new
Not much little bitty baby can do
But that’s ok one day I’ll take ya ‘round
‘Cause I’m your big brother/sister now

Little bitty baby all wrinkled and new
Not much little bitty baby can do
But that’s ok we’ll be the best of pals
‘Cause I’m your big brother/sister now

Ruby’s Friends
Ruby sits down and serves up the tea.
She pours out one cup, then two and then three.
And she’s off in a world of her own,
But, I don’t think that she’s all alone.

There goes Ruby, she likes to pretend.
A toast to the host with the most,
and what counts in the end:
Some very good friends.

Ruby runs in with her favorite toys.
Sits down to play and makes much funny noise.
And she’s off in a world of her own,
But I don’t think that she’s all alone.

Caboose
They call me caboose ‘cause I’m always behind,
Tagging along at the end of the line.
Everyone’s bigger and faster than me,
But I’m getting bigger and one day I’ll be!

I've got my little engine runnin’
Watch out ‘cause I’m a comin’
I’m a little caboose, but I’ve got plenty of juice
And I’m chug chug chug chug chug chug chug chug
Chugin’ chugin’ right on time!

Simple Things
The day is done,
So close your eyes and sleep now little one,
'Til morning breaks
And wakes you with a smile upon your face.

The simple things, is the stuff of dreams
And I watch you sleep, in these precious days.

The day will come
When you’ll be off and I’ll be all but done.
You’ll leave this place,
But, you’ll leave me with a smile on my face
The simple things, is the stuff of dreams
And I watch you sleep, in these precious days.

Big Boom Wacker
I’m a click click clicker
I’m a clack clack clacker
I’m a tip top sticker
I’m a tap tap tapper
I’m a bang bang banger
I’m a smack smack smacker
I’m a do my own thinger
I’m a big boom whacker!

Walk
When I was learning how to walk
I fell down on my butt!
It only hurt a little bit, and so I got back up.
I think I fell five times that day,
And then I fell five more!
Good thing I am kinda small ,
Not too far from the floor!

La La Land
On Ezra's feet two fuzzy sheep
And he’s wearin’ stars and moons.
Up to bed, a story's read,
He drifts right off and soon
He’s in la la la,
He’s in la la la la la

And Ezra cares for nappy bears,
Robots and baboons.
He tucks ‘em in tight and says goodnight,
Then drifts right off and soon
He’s in la la la, he’s in la la la la la

Ten Little Toes
I've got my Mama’s eyes, I've got my Daddy’s ears
I've got my Granpop’s Sealy-Postupedic rear
And I’ve been told I’ve Marlon Brando’s nose
Well, THAT BLOWS!
It seems the only thing belonging to me
Are my ten little toes!

I need my eyes to see I need my ears to hear
And if I want to sit down I’m gonna need my rear
I couldn’t smell a rose without my nose,
THAT BLOWS!
It seems the only thing belonging to me
Are my ten little toes!

Snow Storm
The snow was whirlin’ and twirlin’ and swirlin’ around;
The people were hurryin’ scurryin’ all over town.
And even the dogs wore boots on their paws,
The snow piled high up to their eyeballs,
And all the kids cried Hooray! Hooray! for the snow!

The snow was whirlin’ and twirlin’ and swirlin’ around;
The people were hurryin’ scurryin’ all over town.
And even the cats wore little felt hats,
The snow piled high right up to their backs.
And all the kids cried Hooray! Hooray! for the snow!

Pudding Pie
I was in the tummy, craving something yummy,
When down fell a pickle from the sky!
Now I may not understand, how it is that I am
But I sure know that pickles can’t fly!
So I swam up to the top, more curious than not
And yelled, “I’d like a chocolate pudding pie!”

Clap!
One step forward, one step back,
Turn yourself around and clap clap clap
Now you’ve really got it
Put your hands on your hips
And kick up high just like this:

Two steps forward, two steps back
Turn yourself around and clap clap clap,
Now you’ve really got it
Put your hands on your head
And jump jump jump like your bouncin’ on the bed

Three steps forward, three steps back
Turn yourself around and clap clap clap.
Now you’ve really got it
Goodbye, farewell!
Turn your siren on. And ring your bell!