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!