Friday, November 10, 2006

Blowed Away!

Oklahoma's statehood centennial is coming up next November. All this year the state is celebrating in many ways. The 2007 summer reading theme in Oklahoma will be the centennial. So I've been reading up on Oklahoma and working on a centennial program which I've already booked into a couple of schools and a good number of libraries.

I've received official recognition from the state centennial committee for my program!! You can see a growing list of all the recognized celebrations here: Celebrate Oklahoma's Centennial - Book an Event. This also authorizes me to use the nifty logo above, which probably looks very familiar to you by now if you live in Oklahoma!

Now all I have to do is write some songs... no pressure!

I've made good progress on the program these past two weeks. I've secured permission to use the song "My Oklahoma Home, it Blowed Away" by Bill and Sis Cunningham. You might know it from Bruce Springsteen's latest CD. It's an authentic Dust Bowl song from the 30s and it treats the topic with humor. I tried it out with three classes, two 3rd grades and one Kindergarten, last week. They appreciated the humor and really enjoyed singing the echo part "It blowed away!"

I also completed the first draft of a song about the first Land Run in 1889.

For those who may not know, when the government opened the "Unassigned Territories" to settlement, they gave away lots in the most insane way possible, which was to literally hold a race. Settlers lined up on the borders and at the stroke of noon got themselves into the area any which way they could to stake their claims. Many "Sooners" snuck in early to get a jump on the best spots. Amazingly nobody was shot over land disputes, but the courts were tied up for years.

In looking for a "way in" to make a song for kids out of this topic, I was struck by the many different strategies and modes of transportation people employed; the railroad, race horses, bicycles, hiding in the bushes, etc. Each verse highlights a different strategy and ends with a cumulative section where the kids do sounds and motions. If you know my song "Grandma's House Tonight," this song has a similar structure.

I tried it out on two classrooms yesterday, 1st and 2nd grade. Even though the song is still pretty rough, they did great with it and really seemed to enjoy the participation. The teachers both seemed excited about it.

I'm anxious to try these songs out on some fourth graders, since state-wide, those are the kids who really study Oklahoma history all year long.

Well, I have an outline that calls for three or four more original songs, so I'd better go get back to work!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Today!

I'm sure you're getting plenty of reminders, but here's one more - don't forget to vote today!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Madness

This month's podcast includes all five songs from my 1992 cassette, Halloween Madness. Evalyn helps me introduce the songs, "Weird Things Happen on Halloween Night," "There's a Vampire in My Basement," "To the Monsters in My Closet," "Skeleton Dance," and "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet." Her artwork here was inspired by the songs.

Happy listening, and happy Halloween!

Listen to or download the new podcast: Halloween Madness
Take the survey for a chance to win a CD: Survey
Subscribe: Feedburner Feed
Or subscribe through iTunes: iTunes Feed

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Red Ribbon Week

It's Red Ribbon Week!

I was at Glencoe Elementary today. The 6th grade girls came by after the program to get autographs, making me feel like a rock star. Some of them knew my songs from previous visits, or from my library shows, and I saw them back there during the show, singing along with "Lisa Lee Elizabeth" and having a good old time.

Yesterday I was in Locust Grove, at the Early Learning Center. I did two shows there, one for 1st and 2nd grade, and the other for PreK and Kindergarten. We had a lot of fun with songs like "Big Red Fire Truck" and "You're a Dinosaur" - those kids are so sweet, and great singers, too!

Tuesday I was at Mustang Trails, and I sang for two great groups. We brought volunteers on stage to add their reactions into my "Fifty Ways to Say No to Drugs" song. And of course the kids at all three schools were excited to hear and sing "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet!"

Make healthy choices, everybody! Happy Red Ribbon Week, and happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

NAPPA and Parents' Choice Awards!

Howdy, people! Sorry for the long absence. I'm still alive! There is much to catch up on, but I'm going to try to spread it out, rather than cover everything in one post.

I'll start off tonight with the most exciting news I've got - My latest CD, Paws Claws Scales & Tales, has won two important awards!

The first is a NAPPA Honors Award. This is my second year in a row to receive one. Here is the fabulous quote they sent me: "Harper's songwriting skills take a backseat to no one, and these creative animal songs are a pleasure to the ear."

The winning products will be posted November first at the NAPPA website.

Paws Claws Scales & Tales has also won a Parents' Choice Recommended Award. This is my second Parent's Choice, too, although the first one (for Take Me to Your Library) was an Approved award, which means I've moved up a tier! My Parents' Choice review says, "Harper crafts songs for kids that are both witty and fun; imagine a kind of children's music Loudon Wainwright III, making a pet-themed album and you begin to get an idea of his songwriting skills."

The winning products are posted at the Parents' Choice website.

I'll also toss in a mention of a very positive review for Paws Claws Scales & Tales in the September issue of School Library Journal. They say, "Animal lovers will find much to enjoy on this fun album." Orders through, CDBaby, and several wholesalers specializing in sales to libraries have picked up since the review; hopefully the awards will beef up sales even more!

Finally, I did not win a Unisong People's Choice. I only mention it because in my previous post (way back in August!) I was asking fans to vote for me, so I thought you might like to know how that turned out. Many of you did vote, some of you even daily! I really really appreciate it and I wish I could say that thanks to you, I won, but instead I can say that thanks to you, I believed I had a chance, and that is just as good! So, thanks to you!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I have two songs in the running for Unisong's People's Choice Award, "Take Me to Your Library" and "It's Hard to Love a Reptile!" Vote early and vote often - up to three times a day! Just look for my face. (Not that I'm trying to influence your vote or anything!)

Here is the link:

Here is more information from Unisong:

The "People's Choice Award" has begun! Now that the judging is complete by our various panels of professional experts for our 2005-2006 "Unisong" International Song Contest, and the winners have already been announced , we are now ready to kick off our final new feature for this round of the competition, the "People's Choice Award"! This award is designed to let everyone have their own say in selecting one final worthy winner out of the top four winners in all 17 categories, or a total pool of 68 songs in consideration for this extra online prize.

The writer selected for this final award will receive a bonus $500 USD in addition to any other prizes they have already won!
You be the judge! Since any song in the pool can win if it gets the most votes, it's a great chance for the public to add their own opinion, and vote for what they think is the best song, whether it's the same one the judges picked or not.

There will be a three week voting period starting now, and ending on September 10th, with the winner announced on September 15th.

Anyone can vote up to 3 times per day! Vote for one particular song 3 times ,or vote for 2 or 3 different songs. And you can vote up to three times every day until September 10th if you wish. The choice is yours! .

To cast your votes click on the following link or visit us at

Please note that we have decided to display the songs in a changing daily "random" order to avoid influencing the voting.

Thanks for your interest and support of "Unsiong" and may the best song win this final award, as chosen by the People...You!!!

Stay tuned for the launch of the 11th annual "Unisong", starting on October 15th!


"Unisong" Created by Songwriters...for Songwriters

Monday, August 21, 2006

Free Prize Inside

** Limited Time Offer **

Paws, Claws, Scales & Tales CDs - $9 each when you buy more than one copy at CDBaby!

Plus, include your email address to receive a free "Free Prize Inside" compilation CD with 15 top children's artists! (See below)

Isn't this a fantastic drawing? It comes from Zackary in West Springfield, MA, who says:

Dear Monty, I think that you are A GREAT singer! My favorite song is "It's Hard to Love a Reptile," because I love reptiles a lot. Dinosaurs are reptiles too, you know. I know a lot about Dinosaurs, too. I even have books about them. Dinosaurs are FASCINATING! I'M SENDING A PICTURE OF "IT'S HARD TO LOVE A REPTILE" WITH THIS NOTE.

Zack's brother Nick wrote:
Monty, my favorite songs are "I took my dragon for a walk", "Dog Books", "It's hard to love a reptile", "The cat came back", "Gimme vegetables", and "I go bananas." Please keep making songs for us to enjoy.

And Zack and Nick's mom Valerie wrote:
"My boys have thoroughly enjoyed your latest CD. They put it on replay when they go to bed at night and wake up to it in the morning. I was very happy that I found your website the other day. Keep up the good work. We all are looking forward hearing more!"

Cool, guys - thanks for your letters and artwork, and for agreeing to let me share them!!

Free Prize Inside (Free CD with purchase)
1. Imagination Movers, "Clean My Room"
2. Steve Songs, "Gravity"
3. Monty Harper, "I Go Bananas"
4. Will Hale, "Make Me Laugh"
5. Mr. Billy, "Seuss On The Loose"
6. Erin Lee & Marci, "This Year"
7. The Doo-Dads, "The Ball Song"
8. Ken Lonnquist, "X-Ray Specs"
9. Two of a Kind, "The Double Life of Amphibians"
10. Macaroni Soup!, "Stinky Cake"
11. Lou Del Bianco, "Dawn Puccini"
12. Beth & Scott and Friends, "Hello, My Name Is Joe"
13. Andy "The Music Man" Morse, "R-I-N-G-O"
14. Susan Salidor, "The Boo Boo Gets Better By and By”
15. Barry Louis Polisar, "Early Sunday Morning"

Spare the Rock

Happy birthday to me! Yup, today's my birthday. I'm still less than forty today.

Here is a photo of me and Evalyn recording an episode of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. We'll be taking over the entire two-hour popular children's radio show and podcast as guest DJs this coming Saturday, August 26. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Goodnight Sun

This month's podcast features a conversation with my friend and children's monster rock sensation, Mr. Billy, about a new song, "Goodnight Sun," which we wrote together. The song will appear on Mr. Billy's new CD, Batteries Not Included, due to be out soon.

Listen to or download the new podcast: Goodnight Sun
Take the survey for a chance to win a CD: Survey
Subscribe: Feedburner Feed
Or subscribe through iTunes: iTunes Feed

Visit Mr. Billy online:

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Take Me to Your Library

This month's podcast details the creation of the song "Take Me to Your Library," which recently won first place in the Unisong International Songwriting Competition children's category.

If you're linking here from the Unisong website, welcome - I hope you enjoy hearing the song and learning a bit about how it was created.

The song is available on my CD with the same title. You can get it at The CD includes extensive notes on the writing and recording of all the songs - just pop it into your computer to access them. Here's an interesting bit from the CD notes that didn't get into the podcast...

"One challenge I had with this song was to keep it interesting musically, since it's so long. I had a melody for the verse and one for the chorus, but I wasn't sure how to put it all together. If I sang the chorus after every verse it would be long and boring. Then I heard an interview of Arlo Guthrie on the radio. He said something about his story songs; that often all the verses will follow the same pattern, but he will throw in a different melody after a while to shake things up.

So that's what I tried. The verse that starts 'A bright blue beam dropped straight down around me...' could be sung with the same melody as the others, but I gave it a new one. It comes right in a spot where we need to hear something new, or the song would start to get boring!"

This month's winner of a free CD is Sarah Nielsen of Wilsonville, Oregon. Congratulations, Sarah! All she had to do was fill out the listener survey. If you've tried before and didn't win, you can try again.

Next month my guest will be Mr. Billy, and we'll talk about a song we wrote together. I'm going to keep promising that until it happens!

Listen to or download the new podcast: Take Me to Your Library, the Podcast
Take the survey for a chance to win a CD: Survey
Subscribe: Feedburner Feed
Or subscribe through iTunes: iTunes Feed

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Unisong International Songwriting Competition

Big news for me!!

The Unisong International Songwriting Competition results have been announced for 2005.

This competition is run by songwriters for songwriters, so the focus really is on the writing. I've been entering in the children's category for the past three years. In 2003 I took third place with "Diving in the Deep Blue Sea" and in 2004 I took second with "Loose Tooth."

This year I entered four songs. (I find it quite impossible to guess which of my songs has the best chance so I enter as many as I can afford.)

And the results...

"It's Hard to Love a Reptile" from the new Paws Claws Scales & Tales CD took fourth place.


"Take Me to Your Library" from the CD of the same name took first place!

I was also excited to see that my friend Mr. Billy placed two songs in the top twenty finalists. I haven't heard yet how many entries there were in the children's category, but in past years there have been several hundred, so placing anywhere in the top 24 is an impressive accomplishment; it puts you firmly in the top 1%.

Congratulations to all the winners! You can listen to the winning songs at

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NPR Update

Well, if you went looking for the NPR podcast Friday that I told you about in my last post, you are probably wondering why it wasn't there. I got an update from the Open Mic Podcast today - for some technical reason my song didn't get posted, but it is now scheduled to go up next Monday, July 3.

The Open Mic Podcast website is located here: Open Mic.

Happy listening!

Friday, June 23, 2006

XM Kids and NPR

Last weekend Kenny Curtis played "I Go Bananas" from my Paws Claws Scales & Tales CD during the 13 Under 13 Countdown. Often the new songs he introduces on the top 13 show go on to climb the charts themselves. If you are an XM Kids listener, please ask for "I Go Bananas!"

Make your request here: XM Kids Request

Also this afternoon (Friday 6/23) the song "I Took My Dragon For a Walk," also from the new CD, will be the featured song on National Public Radio's Open Mic podcast. (It should show up there at 4:15 PM EST)

You can download it here: Open Mic

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Acousticadia, Dino Daze, and other upcoming shows

The summer tour has begun!

My first show was in Moore, last Tuesday. It went very well - Lisa says it was my best opening show in all the summers I've been doing library programs (this is the 16th!). I performed five songs from the new CD, plus two from "Great Green." Evalyn joined me on stage for "Hummingbird Hum" and she did a great job, stealing the show as always. The audience was fantastic - lots of fans in Moore; I felt right at home.

Evalyn had her own performance season this week - three dance recitals. This was her first year to take ballet, and her beginner class of 4s and 5s were mighty cute in their anderoid outfits with bobbing antennae on their heads. They were the stars of the show, and I'm not just saying that cause I'm her dad; her mom thinks so too! We were very impressed with the whole operation. It was a lot of work but well worth it. Evalyn absolutely loved it, and so did we!

Coming up (these locations are in Oklahoma):

Monday June 5, the Tahlequah library, 10:00 and 1:00
Wednesday June 7, the Seminole library, 10:30
Thursday June 8, the Ada library, 10:30

Friday and Saturday, June 9/10, Acousticadia in Edmond
This is a big outdoor music festival. It promises to be a lot of fun for everyone. For more information I will refer you to this article from the Edmond Sun: Acousticadia makes child's play full of musical fun, and to the Acousticadia website.

Sunday, June 11, Dino Daze at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman
Many things are going on at the museum June 10 and 11. For more information I'll refer you the museum website.

I hope I'll see you at one of these shows!

"Paws Claws Scales and Tales" on XM Kids!

XM Kids has added "Paws Claws Sclaes and Tales, Reprise" from my new CD to their rotation!

To me this is a very big deal. We listen to XM Kids all the time around here and we love it! We think of it as the national headquarters for children's music. The playlist is heavily influenced by listener requests from all over the country and they do a weekly countdown of the 13 most requested songs. Way cool!

As I understand it, my song will by played infrequently for about two weeks, and if it doesn't generate any requests they'll drop it. If it generates requests they'll play it more often.

Once it gets bumped up in the rotation, it's more likely to generate requests, since people have a better chance of hearing it to begin with.

So during these crucial first days, your request can make a big difference!

If you are an XM Kids listener, please call in to request my song! (If you can, call before 6/14/06!).

If you don't have XM Kids (you should get it), please pass on this info to someone who does! XM radio is built in to many new vehicles, and it's part of the satellite TV service, DirecTV. So you might know somebody who has it, even if you didn't know you knew it!

XM Kids is channel 116.

You can make a request online, by going here: XM Kids.

Better yet, call in and you can hear yourself on the air! The DJs are very friendly and are great at talking with kids. Evalyn has been on the air several times, usually requesting "Baby Kangaroo" by Joe McDermott. She's even told a few jokes! Her first call was at age three.

Here are some tips for calling in to request "Paws Claws Scales and Tales" (or any song you want to hear!):

- The number is 866 328 2345
- Call anytime a live DJ is on the air.
- If you get the answering machine, hang up and try again. Keep dialing until you get through.
- Be prepared to tell your name, where you live, and the song you want to request
- In our experience, D. Dynamite is the easiest to get through to (evenings), then Kenny Curtis (mornings), then Absolutely Mindy (afternoons)
- You won't go on the air live. You'll hear yourself five or ten minutes after you hang up the phone.
- Relax, stay calm, and just talk. The DJs are patient and they will only use the best bits of your conversation on the air.
- It's ok for mom or dad to make the request, or to speak first and introduce the child

Have fun!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Villa Villekulla Hula and Hummingbird Hum

This month's podcast episode is a double-wide, to make up for missing last month. You'll hear two songs from the new Paws Claws Scales & Tales CD, and I chat with two adorable guests about how they helped me make these two songs into great recordings. The songs are "Hummingbird Hum" and "Villa Villekulla Hula" and the adorable guests are my wife Lisa and daughter Evalyn. I hope you have as much fun listening as we had making this podcast episode.

Congratulations to our free CD winner for May, Mary Rowe of Marble Hill, MO!

You can still enter to win a free CD by taking the survey here:

Show Notes

Here are some links related to the show. Have fun exploring while you listen!

Tim Cain, and "Drum Thang"
Pippi Longstocking
Harry Potter
Paws Claws Scales & Tales CD

Go here to listen to or download the new podcast:
Go here to subscribe:
Or subscribe through iTunes here:

Friday, May 19, 2006

Paws Claws Scales & Tales CDs are Here!

The CDs are here!

They arrived Wednesday, and our living room is full of them. But we have already gotten rid of more than two hundred copies! That includes pre-orders and radio stations (see below!). The folks at the post office duck down behind the counter when they see me coming! Just kidding - actually they've been very helpful.

So, if you pre-ordered a CD, it's on its way to you right now. You may even already have it!! But you don't need me to tell you that.

The release party is tomorrow in my back yard. We'll be cooking hot dogs out on the grill for a picnic lunch and a concert will follow
with CD signing and all that jazz. Rumor has it there will even be a cake that looks something like the CD cover. I'll try to post a photo or two.

I have two new podcasts "in the can" - I just need to get them edited, but they'll be available soon, so please stay tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned, here are some radio stations that have already said they will play music from the new CD. You can tune in to all of these online using your web browser, and most of them take requests - hint, hint.

"Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child" hosted by Bill Childs & Ella (daughter) on Valley Free Radio, WXOJ-LP in Florence, MA
Schedule: 8-10 am on Saturdays. ET
Description: Music for kids - both officially kids music and other stuff that kids might like. Playlists range from folk to world to guitar-pop to straight-up rock.
You can tune in on the website. This show is also available as a podcast, which you can subscribe to on iTunes!

"Kids Radio Mania" hosted by Kid DJs Jenna and Joey & live call-in host Crazy Dave on KDPS Radio in Des Moines, IA
Schedule: All day Saturday and Sunday
Description: Lively mixture of pre-teen music, children DJ's, call-ins, jokes and prizes.
Each weekend a specific artist or theme is featured and a song from that artist or theme is played at least hourly along with interviews and give-aways.
You can tune in from the website!

"We Like Kids" hosted by Jeff Brown on KTOO FM in Juneau, AK
Schedule: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm AT
Description: Mostly music for school age kids. Many times the songs are selected around a theme.
You can tune in from the website!

"Family Groove" hosted by Will Hale on KFAI in St. Paul, MN
Schedule: On Demand
Description: Family Groove is a weekly internet radio program custom made for grade school age kids. Its parent-friendly nature also opens a multigenerational dialogue, proving you're never too old to feel young and introducing kids to music they won't have to outgrow. Children are directly involved as regular hosts, guests, and producers.
The intention of Family Groove is to build a bridge to allow kids a smooth transition in the growth of their awareness and appreciation of music.
You can tune in from the website; in fact it's the only way to hear this show!

"Nacho Celtic" hosted by Carlos Alden on KPBX-FM in Spokane, WA
Schedule: Sundays, 2:00 - 3:00 PM PT
Description: Carlos Alden's bi-polar show: first half folk music, second half children's music.
You can tune in from the website.

"XM Kids" hosted by Kenny Curtis, Absolutely Mindy, Jinx Blog, D. Dynamite on XM Satellite Radio, channel 116, broadcast nationwide!
Schedule: Always On
Description: XM Kids broadcasts a variety of programming for kids, mostly music served up by the four DJs. The playlist is heavily influenced by listener requests. It includes corporate stuff from TV and movies, but independent children's artists are also very well represented. Programming also includes live performances from the XMKids "Rumpus Room."
XM Kids is on XM Satellite Radio, which is a subscription service and also requires an XM receiver. However, XM Radio does offer a free three day trial during which you can listen to XM Kids on the website.

For even more children's radio, visit Kids Music Planet!


Quotes about Monty Harper and the Paws Claws Scales & Tales CD:

"This is the CD you'll want to get! It's full of unforgettable songs about pets and
animals and kids! I find myself humming and singing the new material from Paws,
Claws, Scales and Tales throughout my workday."
- Sandy Shropshire, Children's Librarian, Moore, OK

"Monty's songwriting shines... Fabulous child-centered songs for home and school!"
- Fred Koch, Chicago Parent magazine,

"Purrfect music for critters of all sizes!"
- Jeff Brown of "We Like Kids!", KTOO-FM, Juneau, Alaska

"Monty Harper is a masterful musical storyteller who makes great songwriting look
- Will Hale of "The Family Groove" Kids Internet Radio Show,

Sunday, May 07, 2006

More about Texas, plus Yukon

I didn't get to blog from the rest of my Texas shows, but they all went really well. Tuesday we were at Eastridge and Wooden Elementary in Red Oak and Wednesday we were at Venus Elementary in Venus, TX, and Coleman Elementary in Cleburne, TX.

See my previous post for gushing about how fun it is to sing for an enthusiastic, well-behaved elementary school audience. One of the librarians was so excited about the music that she and her principal are purchasing CDs for every classroom teacher!

It was a great trip all around. Lisa and Evalyn had fun at home with Chad Monday and Wednesday. He's only a month younger than Evalyn, so they had a blast playing together. I hear they shared a kiss, right on the lips, Evalyn's first, I think. But Evalyn says she doesn't want Chad to be her boyfriend - there's someone at school she's interested in that way. Did I mention she's five years old?

Even the traffic in Dallas was better this trip. All the construction through downtown has long been cleared up, and my trips from Plano down to south of town and back went smoothly. (I only witnessed two minor wrecks.)

Lisa and Evalyn came down with me the second day. Evalyn was fascinated with the tall buildings and the highway interchanges. They finally got to meet John, after so many years of him bringing me to Dallas/Ft. Worth area schools. He tried to take us to lunch, but we couldn't find a smoke-free restaurant that wasn't McDonald's, which was fine with Evalyn - she got to play in the play place and eat McNuggets! Come on, Texas, if Oklahoma can pass a law for smoke-free restaurants, you can do it too!

That evening I sang through all the songs on my new CD for Cassie and Sarah (while Chad and Evalyn chased each other around the house).

Yesterday, Lisa, Evalyn and I drove to Yukon for their annual Festival of the Child. I performed for six hours, with 15 minute breaks. Needless to say I'm pretty worn out today. We were inside due to the weather, which was good - last time I was down there, it was cold and trying to rain, and we were outside. Joanne says she may not hire me again if I keep bringing bad weather with me! (I'm very flattered that she thinks I can control the weather. ;-)

Anyway, we had fun. Lisa and Evalyn did all the booths and we came home with a pile of Evalyn's crafty creations. Evalyn sang our song "Hummingbird Hum" along with me for the first time in public. She did a fantastic job! We will probably make it part of my summer program.

New podcasts coming soon!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Dispatch II

I love the Internet!

After my second show today I had a voice mail from Disc Makers. I had neglected to include a form I should have when I sent in my master CD. But no trouble - I downloaded it on the library computer where I was at Red Oak Elementary school, filled it out and faxed it in. Unfortunately the order will be delayed so now the expected launch date for those who pre-ordered the CD is May 18.

My second show today, at Red Oak, went fantastic. It took a while to load the kids into the room, so we started a bit late, but we made up for lost time in big enthusiasm. We had Pre-K - 4th grade, and they were great participators, singers, and listeners. Both my shows today made me remember why I do this for a living. I spend many hours marketing, accounting, writing, recording, driving - seems like everything but singing in front of kids. Those relatively rare 30-45 minute chunks of time when I'm actually up there interacting with a great audience are fun, fun, fun!!!

I heard myself today (while driving) on the "Spare the Rock Spoil the Child" podcast. That is one cool show - full of real rock n roll for kids! It's hosted by a father/daughter team, Bill and Ella. Check it out at Enjoy!

Dispatch from The Road

Howdy, Friends, from Red Oak, Tx, down here south of Dallas.

I performed this morning at Shields Elementary. The kids were fantastic! It was K-2nd. They had a lot of fun. Everyone participated well, and when it was time to get quiet they were self-quieting. My favorite kind of group! My host,John, observed that all the teachers were participating too. That really does make a positive difference.

I'm writing to you from the library at Red Oak Elementary where I will perform here in a couple of hours. John has hired me the past four or five years (neither of us can remember how long it has been) as a thank you to some of his best customers. He is a book salesman who supplies school libraries with new books. I'll be in the area for three days.

Lisa and Evalyn are with me - we are staying with friends in Plano. Yesterday I performed for their son's fifth birthday party. Happy Birthday Chad!

Before we left, I spent a stressful last day working on the new CD. Stressful because it was my last chance to make any changes. Also because I waited until the last moment to figure out what software I needed to add ISRC numbers to my tracks, a technical little detail that can turn into money down the line. ISRC codes are what allow your songs to be tracked when they are broadcast or downloaded online. Without them it's tougher to receive royalties for such uses.

Anyhow, the point is, I spent all day Friday and Saturday morning putting together the CD, and I got it mailed off to the duplicators!! It sounds great! Now all I have to do is wait!

Well, not really - as soon as we get back to the office, Lisa and I will be spending our days preparing envelops so that when the CDs arrive the 15th or thereabout we will be able to send them right out. Pre-order yours today at!!

We also sent a pre-release copy to XM Kids. So if you listen to XM Kids, please call up Kenny Curtis and ask him to play a song from my new CD, Paws Claws Scales and Tales. Right now it's the only way you can hear an entire song. To hear samples, visit the website.

This is my 97th blog post, by the way! I think I will time it so that number 100 will announce the arrival of the new CD. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

PCST Update - Songs are Done!

I just got back from the post office where I over-nighted my songs to Disc Makers for mastering!

So, the songs are done. Whew - now I need to finish the booklet and in three weeks I should have CDs in hand. I'm excited! The songs sound great, if I say so myself. I didn't get the big anxiety that usually goes with saying "OK, I'm done." I just felt a little one, which only lasted for about the past 24 hours.

I shared digital files of the songs with a bunch of my musician friends and asked for their feedback, which was very helpful and calming. Also, over the weekend I talked Lisa into recording some vocals for Villa Villekula Hula, and together we transformed it from an OK song to a stand-out track. She sounds awesome!

Here's the final line-up:

1. Paws Claws Scales and Tales
2. I Took My Dragon For a Walk
3. A Pet Like That
4. Villa Villekula Hula
5. Dog Books
6. Humming Bird Hum
7. It's Hard to Love a Reptile
8. Eleanor Gerbil
9. Fred's Frog Flippy
10. The Cat Came Back
11. Paws Claws Scales and Tales Reprise
(Plus Two Bonus Tracks!)
12. Gimme Vegetables
13. I Go Bananas

I feel like I've been locked up in a cave - I've been doing nearly nothing but tweaking mixes for the past couple of weeks. Now I'm going to creep out and get some fresh air for a few moments, then dive back in to work on that CD booklet and all the other stuff that's been waiting for my attention!

If you've been looking for a new podcast, sorry for the delay - I'll get to it soon!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Paws Claws Scales and Tales, the Song

Whew - I reached another landmark today on the way to releasing my new CD. I've been working on the recording of "Paws Claws Scales and Tales" (the song) for who knows how many days in a row and it just kept getting more and more complex, but now it's done.

Some of you may have already heard the chorus to this song since I posted it as part of a free PSA on the website. Well, now it's a full-fledged song with verses and everything. I feel like I skimped a bit due to time constraints - I only wrote eight verses, and chose the best four for the song. It would have been nice to have twelve or sixteen to choose from. I'm only kidding a little bit.

This song is kind of like "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library" - each verse is about a pet from a book, and the audience gets to fill in the name at the end, to complete the rhyme. It's tough not to write contrived lyrics when you're trying to rhyme names like... Oops I almost gave one away. Well, you'll just have to come see me this summer at one of my library shows to find out who the verses are about. Or order the CD!

This is a milestone because now all ten songs are completed, as rough mixes. I've been listening to the whole CD in the car this evening. A few songs need serious help, but most of them are in pretty good shape. Another coupla weeks and I'll be ready to have them mastered. I still don't know if I'll be able to add another song or two to the list, but it's looking less and less likely. Maybe I'll complete them as bonus songs for digital download. What do you think?

Well, I must be off to bed now, to rest up for two days of school shows in Norman; then back to mixing over the weekend!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's Hard to Love a Reptile

Howdy to my new friends at Waurika Elementary School! I enjoyed performing for you this past Thursday. Those of you who ordered CDs - they are on the way!

And now on to the PCS&T update for this week...

Today I (hope I) finished recording "It's Hard to Love a Reptile" for the upcoming Paws Claws Scales and Tales CD. (The white alligator on the CD cover is from this song.) This song has been looming large for a long while - I've been putting it off because I thought it would be a toughie to record. It's kind of a long story song, which is best done with some freedom tempo-wise, and that always presents a challenge. I've been practicing and memorizing it over the past week or two, and two days ago I recorded a couple of really good passes of vocal and guitar together. Technically this can present a problem, because the guitar bleeds a bit onto the vocal track. But I found that I was able to use pitch correction in a couple of spots anyway, so I ended up with a pretty polished recording.

Yesterday I added a bass line, using MIDI, and today I went through it meticulously lining up each bass note with the recorded performance. This was necessary due to the free tempo, which is tough to follow when overdubbing a part. Then I added an electric guitar part (using the new Fender Stratocaster I traded in my old drum kit and PA for) to the choruses, and that was it. A bit of mixing and I think it's done. Simple but effective, and I hope I still like it tomorrow!

I also am close to finishing a recording of "Fred's Frog Flippy," a song that was inspired by a toy frog at the Children's Music Network gathering this past October. I just need to finish editing the vocal and mix it.

Last week I was mostly working on "Dog Books," a song about, well, dog books, of course! This one has a somewhat complicated arrangement with somewhat Beatle-ish horns and orchestra parts, with a good rock beat. I'll probably re-visit some of the background vocals, but it's close to done.

I'm left with only one song that needs to be tracked and that's "Paws Claws Scales and Tales." I already have the chorus recorded, but I need to write, arrange, and record some verses!

That will round out ten songs for the CD. All of them still have varying degrees of refinements needed. Then once those ten are perfect (ha ha!) maybe I can add a song or two from the runners-up list, which includes, "Bird Brains," "Pet Rock," "Pet Parade," and "Crazy Old Dog." We'll see...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

PCS&T Cover Art!

My graphic design dude, Paul Fleming, and I have been working for the past couple of weeks on cover art for the new CD, and here it is! Beatle fans will recognize that we've had a bit of fun with a familiar design. The animals each represent one of the songs on the CD: the cat for "The Cat Came Back," the white alligator for "It's Hard to Love a Reptile," a dog for "Dog Books," and a humming bird for "Humming Bird Hum."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Pet Like That

In this episode we follow the creation of "A Pet Like That," a song destined for my upcoming CD, Paws, Claws, Scales, and Tales. Listen and learn how a well-known children's book author helped me out with finding the perfect rhyme!

What great timing - it's Dr. Seuss's birthday, so here's something just for fun: see if you can figure out which Dr. Seuss book I reference in the song! It took me forever to find the one I wanted. I must have read every book Dr. Seuss ever wrote, looking for the one I remembered with weird pets in it. Oh well, I can easily think of worse ways to spend my time! If you think you know the answer, post a comment!

Congratulations to our free CD winner for February, Kris Tobey of Tahlequah, Oklahoma!

You can still enter to win a free CD by taking the survey here:

Go here to listen to or download the new podcast:
Go here to subscribe:
Or subscribe through iTunes here:

Friday, February 24, 2006

PCS&T Update

Time does fly, eh?

I've been dealing with a bunch of other stuff, including getting my taxes done! But I've also made some progress on the CD since last I wrote.

Today I put together a mock-up of the whole CD and listened in the car while I drove around running errands. I won't list the songs yet, since a few of them may not make the final cut. It was pretty cool to hear them back to back to back, but I've still got a lot of work to do! "A Pet Like That" and "Humming Bird Hum" are now very close to final mixes.

I've also been working on the cover art with my graphic designer, Paul. The CD cover will feature a cat, a dog, a humming bird, and a white alligator, posed in a parody of the Beatle's Magical Mystery Tour cover. It's very colorful and whimsical. Just a few more tweaks and I'll be ready to post it.

And for those who are looking for February's podcast, it's coming soon!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Paws Claws Tales and Scales Radio PSA

I've accomplished a big milestone on the path to finishing my new CD, although it's more of a marketing milestone than a recording one.

I've completed a set of radio PSAs that libraries can use to promote their summer reading programs. There are 30 second and 60 second spots featuring my new song, "Paws, Claws, Scales, and Tales."

The PSAs are free to download for anyone that wants them. Just go to and follow the instructions. (You can hear a sample there, too, without downloading anything.)

Along with the PSAs I've also put together a CD Pre-Ordering form. Hopefully the PSAs will draw traffic, and I'll be able to start taking orders. I'm really trying to get word out early, since the CD will come out so close to the summer, which is when librarians would need it to use with the "Paws Claws Scales and Tales" program. Timing is everything, right?

I've also made other progress on the CD, though not a lot. I spent much of last week dealing with more computer problems. I'll spare you the boring details, but suffice it to say this time I think I've got it licked. If the same software flips out on me again I can quickly and easily replace it with a working copy. Why didn't I think of that before?

Anyhow, this morning I started on a new recording, "A Pet Like That." I tracked the acoustic guitar part, which will be the basis for the arrangement, and I got a really good smooth full sound - the best I've managed so far. It was by chance it worked out so well, so I was scrambling for a pencil to write down all the settings!

I also learned a cool lesson about avoiding self-defeat. (Let's hope I learned it!) Due to other distractions, by the time I got around to setting up and recording the guitar part, which was my goal for today, I only had about ten minutes left in my alloted recording time before lunch. My normal response would be to throw up my hands and say, well I can't do much in ten minutes. Instead I decided to set up the gear anyway; maybe after lunch I could sneak in some extra time. Soon I had set up an alternate mic stand (my usual one broke!), tuned the guitar, plugged everything in, set the tempo, set the levels, and played through the song a couple of times. Lisa was not ready with lunch, and it occurred to me that all I had left to do was hit the record button. So I did, and I recorded 5 takes.

The moral to the story is: Eate a late lunch. Or something like that.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Kids' Best Happy Birthday Party iMix

This post will be of interest to anyone planning a kids' birthday celebration, as well as to anyone looking for ways of promoting their own music on iTunes.

The other day I was looking at my digital download stats from, and I noticed that my most popular digital song BY FAR is "Birthday Boogaloo." This stands to reason, since people like to send songs as birthday greetings. And it got me thinking about how I might capitalize on this phenomenon...

An iMix is a list of songs on iTunes. Anyone can post an iMix. (It's easy - just make a playlist, select it, click on the arrow, and follow the instructions that come up.) Most iMixes are just lists people share that mean something to them personally. You can purchase an entire iMix with one click, just like purchasing an album. (Although you don't get the volume discount.) Whenever you look at a song or an artist in iTunes, you also see a list of related iMixes, so it makes a good browsing feature.

Naturally I thought, how about an iMix of birthday songs? Many exist already, but none of the ones I found seemed very purposeful. So Lisa and I did an iTunes search on the word "Birthday" and Lisa went through the hundreds of songs that turned up and pulled out ones that seemed usable for kids. We purchased a bunch of them and narrowed the list even further.

We put some of the best songs (including my own by default) into a 20 minute iMix. The description on the iMix page tells more:

"Here are 20 minutes of fantastic birthday songs for kids age 1-8. Use this iMix as the perfect soundtrack for cake and ice cream at a child's birthday party. Play it as a surprise celebration first thing in the morning, groove to it on the way to school, or use it to jazz up a classroom birthday celebration. We scoured through hundreds of birthday songs on iTunes, selecting only those that speak directly to a child on his or her birthday. We purchased music, listened in different combinations, and narrowed our initial list down from 90 to 20 minutes of the best of the best. The songs are energetic, positive, fun, joyful, and bear repeated listening even by adult standards. This iMix will help make any child's birthday all the more special. Brought to you proudly by"

If you have iTunes, click here to check it out!

Quick Weekly CD Update

Last week was hair-pullingly frustrating. My software was acting up on me - and skipping to the end of the story, I had to restore my hard drive from a backup. Always back up your stuff!! I still don't know what caused the trouble, but if it happens again I'll be quicker at fixing it, I guess. I did get a good start on recording the song "Paws Claws Scales and Tales." I plan to release a short version of it as a radio PSA for libraries to use in promoting their summer programs. More on that later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kiss a Pig!

My January podcast is all about a man who is destined to kiss a pig! We track the creation of the song "When Our Principal Kisses the Pig," which was written with 2nd and 3rd graders at one of my elementary school songwriting workshops. Also, a challenge for you to complete the song "Old Pink Dinosaur," also written at a recent workshop.

Congratulations to Laurel Sharp of Syracuse, NY, who was chosen at random from among the thousands of people (many of them imaginary) who filled out the online survey for a chance to win a set of five Monty Harper CDs.

You can still enter to win a free CD by taking the survey here:

Go here to listen to or download the new podcast:
Go here to subscribe:
Or subscribe through iTunes here: 266293007

Monday, January 16, 2006

Another update on the new CD

I guess my Friday blog is becoming my Monday blog instead. Friday I was on the road, performing at McKinley and Lincoln elementary schools in Norman. Thursday I performed and did a workshop in Elmore City, and Monday I was in Burns Flat for a day of performing and workshops.

You'll hear more about the workshops I've recently completed in my upcoming podcast.

Even with all that travel I managed to put some time in in the studio. "Eleanor Gerbil" is nearly done. All the parts are recorded, and all I need to do is the finer points of the mixing.

"Humming Bird Hum" gained some new parts this morning, including a vocal by my daughter, Evalyn. Anyone who's spent time with a four year old can imagine how tough it was to get her to sit still in front of a microphone and sing. Any other time she sings the song beautifully!! Well, I maybe got a useable take, or we may try it again later.

I've been learning how to use the pitch correction feature on Digital Performer, and it's fantastic!! It took some practice to figure out the controls, but basically I can see where the pitch is, grab a note and drag it to where I want it. It gives me a lot of control over how the pitch is changed, and it sounds very natural if you pay attention to details, and don't push it too far.

This is great for vocal harmonies. I used to spend a lot of time trying to get all four pitches "in the pocket" in a four part arrangement. Now it's easy! Last week I added some four-part vocal and kazoo harmonies to "Humming Bird" and they sound fantastic!

Working with the pitch correction is great ear training. I've gained a huge appreciation for those talented singers who know how to properly control their pitch!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Burns Flat

Oops, I let another Friday slip by without updating you, Dear Reader! I know you suffered pangs of bitter disappointment, but here I am now to make it all better. (As They Might Be Giants say in one of their songs, "If it wasn't for disappointment, I wouldn't have any appointments.")

Anyhow, I spent today on the road to and from Will Rogers Elementary in Burns Flat, where I gave a performance and led a songwriting workshop. This was my second visit to Burns Flat. A big howdy to my friends there!!

The workshops were fun. There were four groups, two second grade and two third grade classes. We did a pass-along workshop, starting the song with the first group and passing it on until the forth group finished it. At the end of the day we sang it for the whole school. The song is called "When Our Principal Kisses the Pig," and it's pretty hilarious. Mr. Mat, the principal, has agreed to kiss a real live pig for the principal's challenge, when the students reach their reading goal. I think they are very well motivated to do so!! Limber up those lips, Mr. Mat!!

Last week we were still busy with holiday stuff; my sister and niece were here for New Years, and Evalyn was still on break most of the week. But I managed to eek out some studio time, and "Eleanor Gerbil" is nearing completion. All the vocals are recorded, and I have only mixing left to do.

Next week watch for a new podcast. I'll be announcing the winner of our survey drawing. Somebody's gonna get a free set of Monty Harper CDs. If you meant to enter but it slipped your mind, then scroll down to "Santa's Laugh" below for more information. There's still time to sneak in your entry before the January 14 deadline. And I'll give you a hint - your chances of winning are definitely worth the few moments it takes to take the survey!