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Archive for May 4th, 2008

The Langley School Music Project

Sunday, May 4th, 2008
By raincoaster

Back in the sepia-toned, bell-bottomed days of the Seventies when this documentary was shot, Langley was a lovely village surrounded by stables and farms, three-quarters of an hour’s leisurely drive outside of Vancouver. Now it is a strip-mall-encircled bedroom community an hour’s infuriatingly tense drive outside of Vancouver with, improbably, stables and farms still interspersed between SUV dealerships.

And this is the Langley School Music Project, a public school initiative by Hans Fenger, a teacher in the system. Just another public school teacher.

In the early 70s, Vancouver musician Hans Fenger decided to get a real job. His girlfriend was pregnant, and he couldn’t raise a family on earnings from club gigs and guitar lessons. He got a teaching certificate and a job in the Langley school district.

Here is some great analysis from The Delete Bin:

The recordings were literally a school project, headed up by music teacher Hans Fenger based in Langely B.C (just up the road from where I’m writing this), and incorporating 60 students who sang and played percussion instruments on songs which included David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Band on the Run”, the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”, and the Eagles’ “Desperado”. The record polarized opinion. Some said that the takes on the songs create a sort of ghostly, otherworldly effect, while others denounced it as sounding amateurish and very “school assembly” in delivery. Perhaps it’s their origin which makes these recordings so compelling. Fenger had this to say about the project and the kids who created it:

“I knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, and didn’t know how to teach singing. Above all, I knew nothing of what children’s music was supposed to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal — they had élan. This was not the way music was traditionally taught. But then I never liked conventional ‘children’s music,’ which is condescending and ignores the reality of children’s lives, which can be dark and scary. These children hated ‘cute.’ They cherished songs that evoked loneliness and sadness.”

And now, click on to see (and hear) the kids:

Listmania! Great Outdoor Toys

Sunday, May 4th, 2008
By Glinda

It’s that time again! When the flowers are blooming, the weather turns warmer, and you can finally kick those kids out of the house!

Here are some fabulous things to keep them occupied through the long summer months…

PhotobucketMegaland I am liking quite a few things about this toy. First, children from 36 months to 8 years can play in it! Now perhaps an 8 year old is too cool to play with it, even if it lasts until 6 years, that’s still a bargain! Also, it can be configured in many ways, so if your kids get bored easily, it can be changed.

PhotobucketNaturally Playful Woodland Climber. Are you a bit weary of your child trying to climb up your counters, cupboards, or onto your sofa? Then this toy just might do the trick. Step 2 makes some great, long lasting toys.

PhotobucketNaturally Playful Sand and Water Activity Center I can speak from personal experience when I say that my son loved this toy. It’s better than a regular sandbox in two ways. 1. They don’t get sand in their pants. 2. They can do what every kid loves to do, mix sand and water, and did I mention not getting sand in every crevice?  Also comes with a lid that stays on tight, keeping out bugs and rain.

PhotobucketBlast Pad Missile Launch System Some rocket launchers are difficult to use, somewhat dangerous, and easily broken. This one beats them all. Not a whole lot of effort to launch, but they go up satisfyingly high!

PhotobucketUltimate Beach Ball Sprinkler Perfect for those days when you are feeling slightly lazy. Just fill up the ball and let the kids do all the work! Wait, but isn’t that almost every day?  Or is it just me?

PhotobucketSplash Balls Sprinkler Sprays tons of water every which way! More unpredictable (and therefore, better) than the sprinklers that just sort of rotate around in a circle.

PhotobucketNaturally Playful Picnic Table with Umbrella Got one or more kids? Do they have any friends? Then an outdoor picnic table is a great solution to the dilemma of letting dirty kids in the house to have a snack. I also have personal experience with this table, and not only is it “pretty,” it is sturdy and well made. It seems a bit expensive, but it is well worth the money.

PhotobucketNeat & Tidy Cottage Looking for a playhouse, but need to pick yourself up off the floor from sticker shock? This cottage is a bargain for the price compared to other playhouses with similar features. It also has that all-important kitchen.

PhotobucketRadio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon We also own this wagon, and it rocks. Are we noticing a trend, here? Hey, when possible I like to speak from experience. With seatbacks, seatbelts, real rubber wheels and cup holders, this wagon is one sweet ride!

PhotobucketPush Around Buggy If your child is not yet able to propel themselves around in the Cozy Coupe, then this is your solution. Yes, you have to do all the work, but isn’t it worth it? Also comes in pink!

Big Wheel is Big Deal

Sunday, May 4th, 2008
By raincoaster

Big Wheels

Forget your right to bear arms. Take up your right to bear toys instead! Now we know Charlton Heston is really dead, when a Big Wheel outranks a shotgun.

From the Daily Freeman:

Matthews said a resident of the home, thinking the two men were trying to break in, came outside carrying a shotgun. And when the man incorrectly thought one of the combatants had a knife and was about to use it, he fired a shotgun blast into the air in an attempt to scare the men, Matthews said.

But the two kept fighting.

Moments later, Matthews said, a woman showed up at the scene and whacked the two men with a plastic Big Wheel riding toy, and the fight stopped.

Well, you gotta know when you’re outgunned.

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