McUKE FEST 2019 17th of November!

Oops- the flier has the wrong date! Haha! I’ll fix that soon, but for now, take my word for it, it’s SUNDAY THE 17th of NOVEMBER!!!!

COME ONE COME ALL!
All ages, all levels, ALL DAY!!!!!!
Register for classes or ALL DAY PASS
HERE
or reserve concert tickets for
the Kid’s show and All-Star concert HERE

Poetry: finding your happy place…now with ukulele!

Kailua Beach, Oahu, HI. “I hear it in the deep heart’s core”

William Butler Yeats’ third quatrain of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (see below) talks about going to a happy place which exists in the “deep heart’s core”. His Innisfree, an uninhabited island filled with happy childhood memories is my Kailua beach. The iornwood burrs and the half-flowers of naupaka, the view of Popoi’a (Flat Island), a cup of black Lion Coffee from the Kalapawai Market at sunrise, the curve of the shore and the color of the water comes back with all the smells and sounds in need to take me far away from the maddening crowd. It’s the place I go in my mind when I when I need to find peace. I pick up my ukulele for that same reason; the practice of music is a place where “peace comes dropping slow “.

This spring, Daniel and I will visit the island of Molokai for the first time. I will be teaching a songwriting class at the Uke Ohana Molokai Retreat, April 5-9. Besides basic u’kulele techniques and song form, we will talk poetry: Ancient Hawaiian, contemporary, classical. Not every song has words, but poetry influences all songs, for poetry is the distillation of thought as music is the essence of feeling. It can be as naughty as a limerick, as simple as a haiku, or epic as the Aeneid.

Please join us as we immerse into Hawaiian culture and the beauty of the land. Breathing deep the warm, moist air filled with green and blue, letting softness and color return to the pavement grey of the city bleached mind. Finding a new happy place to arise and go to.

Molokai. Arise and go now.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Color-Along Ukulele

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The SECOND EDITION has arrived!

With a few small corrections, the 2018 edition of COLOR-ALONG UKULELE is in stock on my website and at Ukulele Magazine’s store! This is a fun method book designed to be used by ALL-AGES. If you are an adult, you will enjoy the step-by-step lessons and familiar songs. If you are working with kids, this is a handy guide to get them going and keep them strumming, complete with a page of helpful classroom hints. Great for kid’s groups, classrooms, families and individuals!

Tunes start simple, with one chord songs that even the most newbie players can successfully strum.  Every new song teaches a lesson and draws on a world of traditions, from Scottish, Mexican,  German and American folk traditions. There’s even a song in Hawaiian at the very end!

LEARN BY EAR

A companion soundtrack  accompanies this book, and it’s FREE! These recordings were created so that you can listen, learn and play along, and  are extended with fun additional verses so that  players can get their groove on. If you are a teacher, the long playing tunes allow you lead a class in a musical game, or let students listen while they tune up. Or, to the point,  COLOR-ALONG to the songs as you learn them!

Kids too young to play can learn the songs by ear, and basic music concepts by listening. Families can learn together. It’s fun for all ages.

DOWNLOAD NOW- click this link!

Books are available at Danielward.net

MEDITATIONS FOR (and on) UKULELE

UPDATE: Daniel’s book is OUT!!!  And so are the VIDEO TUTORIAL!   Go to www.Danielward.net to get yours.

 

For the last year, Daniel has been writing “studies”.  If you are someone who has dipped their toe into classical music, you know that these can sometimes stand alone as solo performance pieces (think Villalobos) or be exercises to strengthen your playing (like Hanon for piano). Daniel’s split the difference.  They are simple pieces to play in loops, beautiful to listen to, calming and centering to play. Students and festival workshop participants have been enthusiastic about them, so he’s working on putting them together in a book.

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Daniel will be teaching a sampler of studies at U-Space this weekend, and the following weekend he will be joining me teaching ALL AGES- that means kids, adults and in-between.  And then, there’s that Sukey Jump Band show at McCabes the next day.

UKULELE MEDITATIONS WITH DANIEL WARD

This Saturday, March 11 at U-Space: TWO workshops with ukulele master Daniel Ward highlighting pieces from his forthcoming book “Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele”.

Arpeggio Meditations are soothing, rhythmic and melodic instrumental compositions for repeated playing. They teach both right and left hand techniques, and offer a relaxing discipline for improving tone and musicality. The simplest exercises are great for all levels of player, from the novice to the professional, who is ready to focus intently on technical mastery and expression. The more difficult exercises include challenging patterns and Latin styles.

TWO one-hour workshops, $20 for one, $35 for both.         Sandwiches will be available for purchase between classes for attendee convenience.

11:30 am to 12:30 am   All-Level Arpeggio Meditation,

1:00 to 2:00pm     Montuno Arpeggio Meditation

 

Saturday, March 18th at U-Space: TWO workshops for ALL-AGES Active participation in the arts is one of the best ways to inspire creativity and confidence–and the `ukulele is fun to boot!

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Family style!

`UKULELE FOR All-Ages with HEIDI SWEDBERG and DANIEL WARD : A workshop for adults, kids, and families starting on their musical journey. Sing and strum a dozen songs in just one lesson. This class is open to all, ages 5 and up. (Participating parents MUST accompany children between the ages of 5-8. Children 8 and up may come alone, though parental participation is highly recommended)

10:30 am to 11:30 am   $25 includes “Color-Along Ukulele Method Book” and participating parent admission, (or $35 for both classes! Sandwiches will be available for purchase between classes for attendee convenience.)

CONTINUING UKE FOR ALL AGES- Kids, families, adults learn together, adding picking techniques, new chords and rhythms. Increase your skills so your musical enjoyment can grow.

12 noon to 1:00 PM $20

SUKEY JUMP BAND KID’S CONCERT at MCCABES

Sunday, March 19, 10:30 am  $10, kids under 2 FREE

Mccabes will be providing some percussion and kid-friendly instruments for the wee folk participate with.  Come play, sing and have fun with Heidi and the Sukey Jump Band at our favorite LA venue!

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Here are some other events we have scheduled:

April 8  ISLAND SOUL Daniel and I will be teaching FREE classes during the day (more details TBA)   Chapman University, Orange CA

April 29    BLACKBIRD GUITARS

April 30   DaSILVA UKULELE

May 12-14                 MIGHTY UKE DAY, LANSING MI

May 19-21                 LAS CRUCES UKEFEST 2017 Our friends in the southern NM are putting on their first full-on festival- My Mom and I are working up a piece!

June 19-July 31        MARLBOROUGH SUMMER SCHOOL I will be teaching early childhood music and ukulele on a beautiful campus in the heart of Los Angeles. If you have little ones needing some summer day care, or older kids wanting enrichment, this is a chance to breathe some rare air at a (somewhat above) ground level price.

June 21    MAKE MUSIC DAY at the SKIRBALL CENTER  we will be teaching a ukulele class at noon.  Come play!

July 30      SUKEY JUMP BAND at the   SKIRBALL CENTER  We loved our Bill Grahm show at the Skirball two years ago, and we are thrilled to return for a show during the Paul Simon exhibit.  Expect songs related to this great artist, from folk, to pop, to world beat. An amazing opportunity to really stretch and shine, teach and jam!

August 11-13           AUBURN GOLD PAN UKULELE FESTIVAL We are thrilled to join Dani Joy at this vibrant new festival in a town we have never experienced! Can’t wait to meet the lovely folks of Auburn!

September 27          PORT TOWNSEND UKULELE FESTIVAL Now that there is an OYSTER BAR on the premices, this event may be unchallengably the tastiest ever! This event sells out shortly after it is announced every year. If you are already signed up- see you there! If not, look into it, and cue up for next year.

October 14                ANTELOPE VALLEY UKULELE FESTIVAL   Honored to be returning to Lancaster to celebrate the love of ukulele and community with our desert ukulele ohana.

 

The Matriarchy of Sauces

If hollandaise is the mother sauce of French cuisine, red chili sauce must be the madre of New Mexican food.  When Old World meets New World magic happens- breakfast fit for El Rey! (recipe follows)

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

I am looking forward to the cooking element of our Santa Fe adventure as much as the music!  First thing we will cook will be both red and green chili sauces.  And I’ll be putting recipes and songs and photos together into a book.  I hope you will reserve a seat at the table!

Even if you are not staying with us at the Inn, you can join in- there is a walk-in  option on the registration form, and soon we will open individual workshops to registration. (if you want to be first in line for the open registration I suggest you subscribe to the Ukulele Adventures blog post.)

And everyone is welcome at the public events, including a full-on Flamenco show at El Meson on Wednesday November 4th, and the Smoking Jackets Giant Show at Tiny’s on Friday November 6th.  Or come enjoy hearing the participants play at the Farmer’s market on Saturday morning or at La Choza Saturday night!

Full disclosure- the title of this post is the chapter heading from The Making Of A Cook by Madeleine Kamman.  That’s the book which made me a cook. Everything I know about eggs, cakes and sauces comes from the 1971 edition of this book.  I give it as a high school graduation present to every kid I know, as I think learning to cook a good omlette can save your life.  My copy is held together by tape, nostalgia and love, and I still consult it every time I make crepes.

These two pages can save your life!

The secret to life, the universe and everything

My hollandaise recipe has become somewhat free-form, but you can accomplish something like the sauce shown in the photo above if you try this:

Wisk 3 egg yolks into a cup of cold, good NM red chili sauce, add a little lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Over a medium flame wisk constantly.  Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of COLD butter.  The butter will melt as the chili and eggs come to temperature and you will have a no-fuss emulsified sauce. Pour over poached eggs nestled onto an english muffin or polenta or spinach…to make a NM Benedict.  Or serve with fish or asparagus.

Just be sure to make enough for me, because once I hear you are making it I may show up on your doorstep- Or- join us in Santa Fe and I’ll make it for you!

Reasons to take up SMOKING

Reason #1: Wardrobe.  You get a swell looking jacket and cravat, plus a jaunty hat!

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THE SMOKING JACKETS are (from left) Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg, Craig McClelland and John Bartlit. Craig is gigging in WI this summer, and will join us in November

The Smoking Jackets are hitting the road in trio formation- John Bartlit, Daniel Ward and I will presenting the first Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in Durango, Colorado.  We have a great day of workshops planned, starting Friday July 10th with our “song of the year”, Silly Love Songs.  The next day will be filled with classes: 3 sessions of 3 classes, offering a beginning, intermediate and advanced class each session. (I wish I could take John’s ukulele percussion class!)

Reason #2: Smoking is good for you.  When you are doing it on an instrument, that is.

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At the end of summer John will be coming out our way and we three will head up to the Wine Country Ukulele Festival together for four days of ukulele fun, September 10-13. We will be teaching, performing and doing all things ukulele, including a public show at Velo Vino on Sunday afternoon, September 13. The festival in Wine Country is everyone’s favorite because, well…wine.  Ukulele.  ‘Nuff said!

We are working out details for a show or two in Los Angeles before John flies back to New Mexico, and will update the schedule with that soon.

Reason #3: It makes you seem sophisticated.  That’s our motto- “Sophisticated, Educated, Medicated”.

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

In November all four of us will come together in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico for the New Uke-Culinary Fiesta. Highlights of this event include two public shows, one for the Smoking Jackets and a full-on flamenco show.  There will be great workshops in a beautiful setting, plus we will be teaching cooking classes focusing on combining New Mexican and classic European dishes.  Old world meets new- or as we like to call it, Nuevo Mundo.  And there will be big-time BBQ- our other favorite way to SMOKE!

(For the record, none of us are smokers, nor do we endorse the use of tobacco.  We’re just in it for the costumes.)

‘Tis A Gift

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All the beautiful photos in this post are by Stewart Dean, imagovitae.org, CR 2015

“And when we find ourselves in a place just right….”

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I believe in the power of art to improve lives- music, dance, performance arts, visual arts… all forms of art are humanity’s conduit of connection, and every person has the need and ability to express through art. Stepping away from entertainment into engagement is the most healing thing I know.

Although it seems like a lifetime ago, just last month I was upstate New York at Ashokan Center teaching at their ukulele camp.  A balm to the soul: beautiful place, beautiful people, beautiful music.

It always starts from the top down- Jay Ungar is a most welcoming host.  Playing with him and Molly was a privelege.

It always starts from the top- Jay Ungar is a most gracious host. Playing with him and Molly was a privilege.

This time around I taught a class in overcoming stage fright through improvisation. Beginning improvisation is about getting out of your own way- letting go of the idea that you need to be funnier or smarter, thinner or younger, betterer. We focused on freeing ourselves from judgment and shame, knowing that we are all good enough as we are, giving ourselves permission to fail and to not waste time worrying about what other people might think. I believe I have earned an honorary Doctorate on this subject.

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Newly fearless and completely shameless!

Working alongside people you love, and people who love you is a reward of it’s own.

I esteem and revere Gerald Ross and Marcy Marxer

Gerald Ross and Marcy Marxer- beautiful musicians!

Old pal Joel Ekhaus and new friend Ruthy Ungar

Old pal Joel Ekhaus and new friend Ruthy Ungar

From left: Paul Hemmings, Marcy Marxer, Gaku Takanashi, Yours Truly, Joel Ekhaus, Gerald Ross, Ben Hassinger, Ruthy Ungar

From left: Paul Hemmings, Marcy Marxer, Gaku Takanashi, Yours Truly, Joel Ekhaus, Gerald Ross, Ben Hassinger, Ruthy Ungar

This past week was more than a bit surreal. Returning to Hollywood from the sheltering paradise of Ashokan was abrupt and rude. I have an even greater perspective of how fortunate I am to be in a place where I am confident, happy and valued and I am thrilled to be doing work I consider meaningful and necessary.

I sang “Simple Gifts” a few days ago at one of the pre-schools where I do a music program. Wise, beautiful “Q”, a boy of 5, commented “Valley of delight?  We don’t need to find somewhere else- we are already there!”

Yes, we are.

(Thank you for the images, Stewart Dean, imagovitae.org, CR 2015)

Loading the Mag

Way back in the day- wearing the tape roll belt in Thailand

Way back in the day- 1990? wearing the tape roll belt in Thailand

When I was a second-camera assistant I occasionally loaded mags- that is put the film in to the mickey mouse ears.  Ironically, film no longer exists on most film sets. Co-incidentally, neither do I. It is debatable if movies are the better for the shift from film, but as to my own personal happiness, I can tell you I am the better for shifting away from it.

But I have not left the magazine behind entirely- I now find myself loading up its uke homonym: Ukulele Magazine. Last year I was surprised to see my mug on the front cover, and this issue lands me in the contents again.  I really like how the magazine has grown, getting better with each issue- more pictures, sophisticated writing, clean editing and great lessons.  Just in time for the growing community it serves.

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I enjoyed a long conversation with writer and musician October Crifasi about kids and ukes, and lots of our chat is in her article, as well as a bunch of photos from a workshop I taught in Phoenix a few years back. The attendees were the beautiful people from Global Family Philanthropy, the folks Daniel and I went to Haiti with. Photogenic Junau who is from Haiti and now studying in the US takes up some prime real estate!

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Last week a crew from Ukulele Magazine came up to the West Coast Ukulele Retreat, one of the most fun and picturesque of uke events. Shutters were clicking and they even videotaped our dining hall flash mob.  Looking forward to seeing what lands in the next issue!

Shenanagans at West Coast Uke- we really need to loosen up!

Shenanagans at West Coast Uke- we really need to loosen up!

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El Kabonged!

This weekend I am heading east for Ashokan Ukulele Festival.  Join us if you can!  There are still spaces in the workshops, or you can attend just the concert Saturday night, with performances by all the instructors, including Paul Hemmings, Gerald Ross and Joel Ekhaus, Marcy Marxer… playing with the big kids! Click here for discounted advance tickets.

Looking further ahead on the schedule there are family classes scheduled in June at U-Space, free shows at libraries and parks in Los Angeles and the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in July.

And a recording session for the coloring book and another new project in the works!  No rest for the wicked!

How Old (or Young) Should a Kid Be to Learn the Ukulele

Ready to play?

Ready to learn? Ready to play? Or both!

UPDATE: COLOR-ALONG UKULELE, our book for young people who want to learn uke is available at www.Danielward.net Be sure to download the FREE SOUNDTRACK!

Is my child old enough to learn ukulele?  At what age is a kid ready?
A friend with twins asked me this question in message.  I started to write. And kept writing.  A few hours later I realized I had written a blog post. This answer pertains not just to our  book, COLOR-ALONG UKULELE  but to all kinds of questions parents have about kids, music and ukulele.
      There is a Long Answer and a short one.
The short answer ….it all depends on the kid, approach and the expectations.
      Here it comes– brace yourself, pour a drink: The Long Answer.
      Kids learn through a feedback loop, and progress is determined by their developmental readiness in response to their environment and their temperament.  When children are given stimulus to emulate, especially stimulus  which relates to them and to which they can relate– they take off in the areas that engage them.  I am sure you have either experienced or heard from parents how much faster younger siblings walk, talk etc… than their older counterparts.  One reason is that they are surrounded by stimulus relating to them, showing them how to be a child.
      Music, like language, is learned initially through a feedback loop.  It is a rare youngster who, at 5, is ready to physically finger chords or is mentally able to sit and play for more than a few moments.  But that does not mean that they are not learning! They are learning all the time, and music is no exception.
      The illustrations in the book, the fun pictures and the chord diagrams, give a visual focal point for the youngest kids.  Many wee folk love to look at pictures.  The recordings create the feedback loop of sound.  Kids learn intervals, melodies, and lyrics with alacrity.  When we know a song a song by heart before we try to learn to play it on an instrument, the outcome can be pure joy (and less frustration).
      Having an instrument on hand which a child can play with, and eventually play, is a great thing at any age.  $50 models are well suited for this.  Instruments, not toys; nothing precious–if they get broken… meh. Here’s my favorite starter: Ohana sk-10 from MIM
Tune them as often as you can.  Write “G” “C” “E” and “A” on the tuning pegs and number the strings with a sharpie!  Put a sticker on the fretboard where a finger should be placed to make a C chord.  Let a kid put stickers on the body with impunity!  Draw a smiley face on the top/side of the instrument to re-enforce “this end up”. Encourage strumming with a steady beat and clap along, saying “one, two, three, four…one, two…”.
      On the whole, I see kids in 3rd and 4th grade  having the motor skills, ability and  developmental maturity to really learn.  That is when I can take a classroom of 30+ kids and, in the course of a few weeks,  get them to play songs with 4 chords.

Ready or not.... here she comes! AKA musician's kid having fun in a dressing room.

Ready or not…. here she comes! AKA musician’s kid having fun in a dressing room.

      I have known a few kids- very few- who are really ready to play at 5 or 6.  Often they are kids of musicians who have grown up in households filled with music and experimentation, rehearsing; who have watched their parents sweat and rejoice the same way they do. Kids who are driven to practice, and know how to do it. It is pretty rare. (In fact, just as many musician’s kids are apathetic towards the idea of playing or performing)
      I do know that young kids who learn along side their parents learn better.  Children learn through watching us model behavior far more readily that they do through instruction. Some parents who feel insecure about their musical abilities worry about modeling effectively.  I don’t.  I think kids “ears”  grow irrespective of an adult’s shortcomings in pitch or rhythm.  To see a parent try, struggle, unafraid of failure… that is big. Perhaps even bigger than learning ukulele. Also, kids value what we value, and if they see music is important to you, it will be important to them.
      In private lessons or small groups I see kids at 6-8 able to focus and enjoy their achievements.  I have taught  private lessons for families in their homes.  A parent or two, and a couple of siblings, together sitting on the floor.  Rarely will a child of 5 or younger participate for more than 5 minutes.  Older kids may hang in for 15 or more. The parent will finish up the allotted time …and then some.  When I return the following week, I will often hear that the little kid was singing the song we covered and messing around with their instruments the next day.
      So- for the experience of making music, your kid is ready, regardless of age. They do it every day. Having an instrument to experiment on will give them tools they may be craving. They learn songs by ear fast- and never forget them!
The first 3 songs (in our book)  can be played by very young kids, 3 and up. They are strumming on the open strings of the ukulele, learning basic rhythm. Great developmentally appropriate goal!
But to really be able to play the instrument… probably 7-9 years is a realistic expectation.
They are NEVER too young to see and hear YOU learn to play!
What are you waiting for?!

Ukulele Lending Library

Imagine this- flash a library card and you can check out an instrument for a month at a time. Now that is civilized! Further proof that libraries are the greatest of human institutions: ukulele collections!

Kids of all ages(!) play ukes from the Killian Mansfield Collection at the Phoenicia Library grand re-opening in January!

Kids of all ages(!) play ukes from the Killian Mansfield Collection at the Phoenicia Library grand re-opening in January.

The Killian Mansfield Ukulele Collection at the Phoenicia Library in upstate New York has 30 ukuleles to loan. Their neighbor, the Olive Library West Shokan NY has followed suit and has a new ukulele collection.  We are thrilled to be sending books both of these libraries to compliment their collection!  Our Kickstarter campaign for our forthcoming book COLOR-ALONG UKULELE offers supporters to buy books to be donated to some great causes.  These libraries are among them, and I would like to tell you a little more about them.

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Phoenicia Library does after school ukulele programs for elementary and middle grade students.  The library sponsors regular family ukulele classes, jams and occasional performances.  However, the library is woefully understocked in the ukulele teaching/learning materials department. (Let’s help them out there, shall we?)

Here is what a board member Mark Lerner had to say about the library:

“The Phoenicia Library is located in the high peaks of NY’s Catskill Mountains. The library is the heart of our rural community, providing books, information, meeting space, internet access, and programming for children and adults. The 2011 fire led us to an ambitious rebuilding project (entirely paid for by grants, insurance, and private donations), and the newly re-opened library is the first American library built to Passive House specifications, a rigorous standard for energy efficiency that reduces our energy consumption by over 80%. In addition to the Killian Mansfield Ukulele Collection, the library houses the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection, a museum of fly-fishing that also lends out fishing rods.”

Mark is a great artist- both visual and musical, and a great friend and currently lives in Phoenicia. Go to his website, or check out his blog, Every Band I’ve Ever Been In.  You can also see his fine work on both of my CDs– he did the graphic design.

And he is the graphic designer for  COLOR-ALONG UKULELE, our method-coloring book being funded on Kickstarter right now.   You can pre-order books until April 1 at reduced cost for yourself or for your favorite ukulele program.

Speaking of libraries- tomorrow I will be doing a children’s program at the Memorial Branch Library in Los Angeles at 10 am. Come show off your library card and sing with me!

Coming soon to a library near you!

Coming soon to a library near you!