Music all around
“Music is everywhere, always.” That is what the Tiptoe Giants think, and isn’t it? There is a rhythm and a beat in everything we as humans do. Our hearts, our footsteps; birdsong fills the air around us. Nature has a melody and we carry a tune. Even silence has a purpose and a feel. It gives sound the stage, if we care to allow it. It really is up to us whether we listen and observe, or neglect to hear. In but a moment the garden can spring to life with music, but in order to hear it, you must be prepared to listen.
As it happens, music teaches us, even when we are unaware.
The Tiptoe Giants know this firsthand. They recognise the merits of children’s music and take pleasure in making it something meaningful that educates and brings joy to the everyday.
The early stages of a child’s life are both simple and complex. They are learning things for the first time and developing at a rapid rate. The first 1000 days of a child’s life is cited as one of the most profound periods of development in one’s life. A child is in a perpetual state of practice, refining nuance, intricacy and instinct all at once. In the early 1900’s academic clergyman Douglas Horton said: “The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity,” and indeed children are trying to put their own puzzle together. This will be a task that they attend to for the rest of their lives.
Music is inherently simple and complex, depending on your ear and your perspective. Children’s music is particularly deceptive – veiled in a guise of minimalism, innocence, reiteration and often cheeriness. Much like children’s stories and nursery rhymes, children’s music is rich in meaning. It is purposeful. It educates and it guides, and through its repetition and beauty, it helps children remember.
Tiptoe Giants have mastered the art, weaving stories and messages through their indie kindie sweet sounds.
All three members have music in their veins. Between them they have four music degrees, a trained music therapist, a band conductor, two music teachers, a dance teacher, a choreographer, a writer, and nearly a century of music experience. Alongside those skills, their know-how with various instruments is well honed. They also have chemistry, a commodity that is not easily taught.
All band members have performed in a professional capacity, including with Music Viva, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and The Metropolitan Orchestra. It is quite a shift to then create and perform children’s music- and yet the Tiptoe Giants all agree that the quality does not change.
“We really believed that there was space in the market to bring more quality, professional music, live instrumentation, exposure to different musical genres and educational lyrics for families.”
“We want families and children to take away a strong sense of who they are as individuals as well as within communities. We want to turn the car into a shared sing-a-long, home life into warm memories and to move and be active together. Bringing families together through music in turn builds children up and empowers them to make friends, to love learning and to solve problems.”
Lee and Vee are mothers and Meg is aunty to Lee’s children. What ensued was a well-timed overlap between the three women. They moved together creatively, forming a children’s band. The music making was already in full swing.
“You'd be hard pressed to find a conversation in our households that doesn't break out into song or is performed through interpretive dance.”
“Everyone can find music in the simplest places; you could play rhyme or voice games with an infant, rap or sing instructions, listen and dance to music, attend theatre and music festivals, listen to the sounds of the world around you, participate in music classes or make DIY musical instruments in the kitchen... music is everywhere, always.”
Through their work life, and their home life, Lee, Vee and Meg have a good understanding of what children need, and how music can help them along their way.
“Music is a powerful ingredient for happiness and growth- mentally, emotionally and physically. Children are such open recipients of learning and fun, and it's such a playful and meaningful genre in which to create music.”
One does wonder how their rock gigs, jazz gigs and classical concerts compare to a kids show. They enjoy performing in both capacities, however, they said that performing with kids comes with an immense responsibility.
“We pride ourselves on creating content that is wholesome and, while light-hearted and fun, always has a lesson or purpose- musically, emotionally, cognitively, socially or physically. The tough critic, (the brutally honest child), keeps us honest, on our toes and accountable for the quality of our content at all times!”
“Having said that, children are generous, and make performing really joyful. The intimacy of the shows (we tend to be right up close to the kids, house-lights up so we can see their faces, or out in nature) create a space of freedom and warmth.”
The band describe their music as “learning disguised as fun.” There is method to their soundscape and their lyrics are educational, they craft them so.
“It's so rewarding to see the shy child come out of their shell, another child use new vocabulary or ask questions provoked by our lyrics, or a child who is too sick to leave their hospital beds suddenly tap, smile and engage when we visit the Sydney Children's Hospital.”
The Tiptoe Giants explain how music activates many parts of our brains simultaneously and this can assist with child development. They also note how it can be a great motivating tool to practice language and socialise with others through singing, dancing and play.
“One mum asked for chords to 'Shoobeedoo- We Go Together' and now plays guitar and sings it as her children's bedtime song every night. That's incredibly touching to know that it's become a sentimental song for their family. A dad said that he listens to their Tiptoe Giants CD even when the kids aren't around.”
“All the songs are sparked from life with young kids and their needs and interests. 'Shoobeedoo- We Go Together', for instance, was written for Lee's son (four), when experiencing challenges of a new sibling and a sense of belonging. 'Banana Smoothie' was born in the kitchen while throwing healthy ingredients into the blender together, 'Hello Song' came about while playing peekaboo with a non-verbal infant and saying hello in different languages, and 'Emergency - Wee Wah' was written in the car after the excitement of hearing a siren and pondering what the emergency may be!”
Music is accessible unlike other mediums. It aids children and brings them up to be on par with their peers. One parent shared that their child who has speech delays now sings along to the Tiptoe Giants song, ‘Banana Smoothie’.
“We believe that music is THE MOST valuable learning resource. As Plato is quoted to say, 'I would most importantly teach children music, for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning.'”
Article by Sinead Halliday
1. Moore, T.G., Arefadib, N., Deery, A., & West, S. (2017). The First Thousand Days: An Evidence Paper. Parkville, Victoria; Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
2. Doug Horton. (n.d.). LibraryofQuotes.com. Accessed Mon 02 Jul 18, from LibraryofQuotes.com Web site: http://libraryofquotes.com/quote/1988205 Read more at http://libraryofquotes.com/quote/1988205