Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I take a break in my holiday packing to bring you this important message....

Well summer is well and truly here...

(If you live in Tasmania you'll know I mean that comment in theory - not in reality!)

So why not bring back the ONE accessory that every summer requires...

The one element of every road trip or family holiday that's fun to prepare for, the 'make or break the mood in the car' tool that every glove box should be overflowing with....

That's right - THE MIXED CAR TAPE!

Seriously! As I pack for our first family holiday I'm finding it kind of tedious. Primarily this is because I have so much to try and remember, and for an unorganised/unpractical thinker like me that's a big responsibility. Also as I pack the only boring things my pregnant me will fit into I'm picturing the 'student/20 something year old' me who used to spend summer in cute summer gear showing off a great tan and a cool, curly afro that wasn't grey! That's a little depressing too! But the main thing I'm missing here - the ONE thing that can automatically boost any holiday vibe is definitely the mixed car tape!


Obviously I don't live in the dark ages - I know tapes are a thing of the past, but to be perfectly honest I've secretly continued with tapes till...um...well...very recently!

Truth be known I only bought my first grown up car last year - in my 33rd year - so up untill now I've gone without CD's and cup holders and have held fast to the car tape tradition. This is fabulously retro and cool in theory but the biggest problem here is that tapes are difficult to maintain - especially with a toddler around!

LEFT - See Exhibit A!!!

Maybe she doesn't like Eddie Vedder (unlikely) or Richard Kingsmill? But whatever the reason there's only so many times a toddler can twiddle with a tape before the pencil trick won't fix it anymore. Add to this the amount of times a song has been rewound or fast forwarded over the years (you know you're not meant to but come on, who doesn't?) and a tape recorder that seems to wreck most things you put into it and you end up with a very fragile, and in general low quality sounding, holiday sound system!

So I propose a compromise - a specially compiled CD (which for the purpose of this post I'm going to continue referring to as a mixed car tape).

The production of a compilation comes with many less hassles than it did in the day.

I come from the master of making mixed tapes (my Dad. See his handywork in EXHIBIT B) and he taught my brothers and I this very particular process in making the perfect tape...

* Firstly we had to tape Video Smash Hits (despite the fact that they never played the song till the very end!) or Rage (back when it was a countdown)

* Peruse the contents and time the songs we liked to make sure they fitted perfectly on each side. This part could be a complicated puzzle. The best thing to do was write down the titles of each song and it's exact length then add up the lengths of the songs to make sure it would fit the side perfectly - for a song to cut out half way through Side A then start in the same place on Side B was the biggest sin of all!

* Next we had to locate a tape we were ready to record over (unless we could find the rare gift of a new multi pack of blanks)

*Cover the holes with sticky tape so it was re-recordable (SEE EXHIBIT A!)

*Play a few seconds past the little tape recorder jingle that happened at the beginning of each side (to make sure we didn't loose the beginning of the song)

*Make sure the stereo is set to VHS and Audio

*Finally, press record and pause at the same time and you're ready to get started!

* Once taping we made sure to use pause in between each song as it made less clicking noises on the final production than pressing the stop and record buttons.

It was a time commitment, the recording of mixed tapes, as it happened in real time! And it took a lot of focus because if you missed the end of the song you were ruined and if you got confused and paused the VHS instead of the audio you had to backtrack!

With all the steps involved in the original process the idea of a 'new aged' mixed car tape (in CD format) is really growing on me! So I now find myself compiling our families first car trip mixed car tape! This time the process is much simpler...

* Go through my music library which is already stored in alphabetical order of artists on computer

* Make a playlist

*Put in a blank CD and press BURN


There are a few important things to remember when collating your mixed car tape.

You MUST stick to the classics - not the latest craze. You MUST not put multiple songs by the same artist near each other. You MUST think of the family unit, or intended listeners, as a whole and not just put songs for you on it. Finally you MUST have a few different genres on there - none of this "all hip-hop" or "all country". A mixed tape, by definition, must remain a MIXED tape - even if it IS a CD!

BELOW - Exhibits B (very well ordered, looked after and handwritten neatly). A fine example!

Disclaimer - Please don't illegally download or copy songs you haven't already purchased - it's rude and will create bad karma..OOH - Karma Police - better add that to the list!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The importance of nursery rhymes and why they won't ever go out of date...

Singing my daughter to sleep with her personalised version of 'Frere Jaques' tonight (Maple's sleepy, Maple's sleepy, go to bed, go to bed, etc...) I got to thinking about the amazing power of nursery rhymes and the fact that most people probably have no idea just how important they really are!

Did you know that from the very moment your baby is born he/she has the neurological ability to UNDERSTAND and ENJOY particular intervals?? (For you musical types the minor 3rd is the main one I'm referring to here and if you're not a musical type just think of intervals as the makeup of the melody). Interestingly, the intervals that babies love the most are the ones that nursery rhymes are made out of :)

For example, if I type the phrases "Naah, Naah, na, Naah, Naah" or "You can't catch me" I bet you all naturally sing them in your mind in that childhood tune - you know, THAT tune, the one ALL little kids seem to just know and seem to sing!!

Well there's a reason all little kids sing in THOSE tunes - it's because the intervals (melody) are familiar and comfortable to them - they're born with those melodic frameworks in their brain and hearing them and singing them makes them feel good, which helps the development of positive neural pathways.


In general playing pop or  'grown up' music just doesn't quite cut it. The structure, melody, rhythm and tempo of these songs are often too complex and confusing for the tiny mind to comprehend which means they probably don't get the same feeling of "ooh, my tiny brain gets this tune, I like it and it's making me feel safe and sound"... (which I'm SURE is what the new born would be thinking if they could think in such an orderly and well-educated manner!)

So - why not give your baby the gift of nursery rhyme?!

Easier said than done?? Here are a few things NOT to be scared of...

* Don't be scared to ask someone to teach you a few if you don't know any (this is totally common for Gen Y's and beyond) so no need to worry :) Youtube can be a great source for finding a nursery rhyme 'library' and choosing a few you like the most out of the hundreds you will stumble across.

* Don't be scared of being politically incorrect! The chances are you won't offend anyone, least of all your baby, by singing about black sheep - and personally I think singing about orange sheep is confusing and misleading! I choose not to sing the ones about spanking and starving the little children, but that's just me - it's all a personal choice :)

* Don't be scared of singing out of tune. Your children will have absolutely no idea about being 'in' or 'out' of tune - they will just feel loved and happy from hearing your voice and hearing their special songs. (On a side note, Mama's voice is the one your baby loves to hear the most as it is the most familiar. From the moment your bub is born he/she would be able to pick your voice out amongst a noisy crowded room of a hundred people - that's how strongly they recognise your particular sound and that recognition also makes them feel happy and safe. What I'm trying to say here Mums is that your babies LOVE it when you sing to them!)

* Don't be scared about getting the words wrong - it's the melody, structure and repetition that babies love, not the words. Feel free to personalise the words as I often do or choose nursery rhymes with the same tunes (ie Twinkle, twinkle and ABC) so no matter what words come out you can't go wrong!

As a special bonus - the more you sing a nursery rhyme to your baby the more they will come to recognise it and the more chance you have of settling them with that song when they're out of sorts, cranky or sleepy.

What more motivation could you possibly need!!!