Music Your Kids will LOVE

This summer we’ve been traveling, a lot. Riding in the car, a lot. And, spending a lot of time together, a lot. We do pretty well together. So, I thought I would answer a question I get asked a lot by other parents.

I’ve been asked the question at least a hundred times: “How do you get your kids to like the same music you like?” And, “why don’t you listen to Kid’s music?”
First of all, you may need to expand what you like a little. Music that you loved in high school or even the mostly pop junk that gets played over and over again on the radio that you may like to bop along to in the car by yourself, may not be what you really want your kids to love.
So, I would expand what you like if you haven’t already. First, let’s look at faith music…or music written about faith or by a person of faith. Since music is a big part of my life and as a worship leader and songwriter, I am often looking at new and old worship music and hymns. Some of these songs are completely new to me and some of the best bands are bands that I and probably you have never heard of. It’s worth taking a listen to shows like the radio show  Under the Radar  which plays the best music you’ve never heard and stations like Elijah Streams that play worship music from known and lesser known artists and churches. These are places I find new and new to me music that is both worship and singer/songwriter.
You may be thinking, “I don’t like what gets played on the radio.” Well, you are not alone. In fact, most of what is played on Contemporary Christian Radio Stations comes from a very limited number of artists. Some of them are great. Some are just what the radio stations and the labels are feeding us. There is a lot more music out there and if you just do a little digging, you can find it!
One of my favorite things about faith music is that even if the subject isn’t God, I still don’t have to worry about answering the awkward question, ie. “Momma, what are “blurred lines?” or hearing my baby girl sing “So you want to play with magic?” My kids still hear those songs. They just don’t hear them from me.

We also love a lot of older classic tunes by The Beatles, Elvis, Electric Light Orchestra, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, James Taylor, Eva Cassidy,  and many many more. We have current bands that we love too like David Ramirez , Mat Kearney and John Mark McMillian. One of my favorite records is still Brooke Fraser’s Albertine, produced by my producer on my album Radiant You, Marshall Altman. I’ve also discovered more bands and music to love through Marshall. Before meeting Marshall, I didn’t know of Gabe Dixon, Audrey Assad or Matt Nathanson. So, I would say if you really love an album, find out who produced it and listen to more of their stuff. Chances are you will find more music you…and your kids will love.

So, now that you’ve expanded your music repertoire, how do you expand the mind and musical tastes of your children? Play them the songs you like. It’s that simple. I’m not promising your kids will give up asking for Veggie Tales or Katy Perry immediately, however I am saying that chances are high that your children will enjoy what you enjoy if you put some extra thought into it. So, plan a play list on your iPhone of music that you like and make it a good mix of high energy, classic, singer-songwriter, maybe even throw in a soundtrack song. We like the Muppet Movie soundtrack. The songs are hilarious and well done and when Maddux and Leeland break out into their rendition of “Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet,” I am on the floor. It is amazing and hilarious.

Happy listening and happy parenting, friends!

The TravELs’ Adventure Continues

Day three of Escape to the Lake! 

The Fourth of July in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. What could be better? It has been an amazing day. We started with our usual late arrival to the camp breakfast. We cannot get to breakfast at 815am. Not possible. And, that’s ok. Next, it’s Playground time. A walk around the grounds. Justin McRoberts ( pastor, singer, songwriter, artist) did the morning talk about being in community and how there are people in life that we choose to spend life with. An obvious one is our spouse, but we also have other friends that we don’t want to imagine doing life without. We don’t say it out loud like during a wedding ceremony, but no matter the distance or time or space that comes between us, we are never going to let that separate us. I loved this message. It was especially poignant for me, as I knew I was going to see one of those lifelong friends today. My friend, Holly is one of my college roommates and dearest friends. She, her husband and children are vacationing with friends 30 minutes from us. They live in Ohio now. So, to get to see them in Wisconsin was a real treasured treat! 

After lunch, I joined a discussion group about infusing creativity into families. It was great hearing the ideas and struggles of others as well as being encouraged to keep doing what we’re doing while being flexible. We may have grand plans with our kids, but sometimes you just have to let go! And, that’s okay.

I came to this year’s Escape to the Lake, traveling by minivan with my entire family, because I was invited as an artist to be included in the first ever ETTL Artists on the Rise Showcase. I was honored to be asked and really happy that my family wanted to make a vacation of it! So, the showcase was on July fourth with four other very talented artists: Son of Laughter, Tanya Godsey, Adam Whipple and Matthew Clark. And, it was emceed by the amazing Andrew Greer. I have to say that Andrew did a wonderful job telling a little about each artist when he introduced us and made us all feel special. I really appreciated it. Tanya said this in her set, but it is so true that as an artist, the best gift someone can give you is to listen/ see you and your work. Everyone who attended our show gave us that gift. Thank you! We each had about 27 minutes to play. I was missing playing with a band, but loved getting to share the music of my heart.

So, remember my friend Holly? Yep, she was there with her family. It was such a wonderful treat! After the show, we went into Williams Bay and grabbed a quick bite and some good conversation. 
And, our kids, especially our girls became fast friends!

We made it back to camp for the night concert: Andrew Greer, Caroline Cobb, Justin McRoberts, and Jason Gray. Caroline and I became twitter friends about a year ago. We’re both from Texas, we’re moms, believers and songwriters. Caroline’s last album was featured as “new and notable” on iTunes and I love supporting her and her gifts. I’m so glad we were able to finally meet! 
The concerts were great and then we all moved down to the beach for fireworks . 
It was a very full and lovely Fourth of July. My heart is full and happy. Hope yours is too. xo, El Momma 

The Trav-ELS have begun

Morning smiles 

Me and Bakri
After dinner stroll 

Arkansas 

Yesterday we piled into a rented minivan- And headed on a big road trip. Our goal departure time was 5am. We left at 7am. Destination: lake Geneva, Wisconsin for Escape to the Lake 2014. We drove and drove and drove all the way to Wildwood, Missouri. We grabbed a quick dinner upon arrival and headed to bed.

We’ve had our not so good moments and we’ve had great ones. Let me pause to brag on the ELs for a minute. These kids are amazing travELers. Seriously amazing. They hardly ever complain and as I write this they’ve spent approximately 17 hours in the car over the last two days. We didn’t plan to watch movies. But, we lucked out with our car rental. I can’t complain. It’s worked out great and Three out of the four Els have slept a lot. And El Dad has done all of the driving. Not that I don’t want to drive. He seems to like it and I’m a great passenger.
We will arrive at ETTL in the next hour in the final minutes of registration. Oh how I hope our cabin/ room is ready for this family to do a quick change before the first session and dinner. So far, it’s been a great experience. Seeing America like this is inspiring. PS. I think I’m in love with Missouri…