Artist: Lori Henriques, singer/songwriter/piano teacher from Portland, Oregon
MP3 Album: Outside My Door
Original Release Date: January 1, 2011
Label: Human Puppy Records
Total Length: 29:42
Note: Outside My Door MP3s can be purchased on Amazon.com; a physical copy of the songs (i.e. on a CD) can be purchased aet Lorihenriques.com. More songs can be found on Lori’s Facebook page, under “Band Profile“, or on Amazon.com.
Media Description: This collection by Lori Henriques is a good introduction to piano and jazz for kids. The songs range from carefree and light (“Happy to Be Me”) to educational (“Something You Learn”) to melancholy and reflective (“Green Leaf On the Ground”, “Outside My Door”) to just plain fun (“It’s Hard to Wait for Your Birthday”, “If I Had a Twin”).
- Even the Henriques’ target audience is kids, her lyrics are rich with vocabulary and wordplay that older kids and adults will love. Her quirkiness and sense of humor will appeal especially to older listeners. I love that she doesn’t “dumb down” the content, and includes big words like “consider”, “distinguish”, “transpose”, “ennui”, and “milieu” (all those just in her song “Something You Learn”).
- Older children (and adults) will relate to the various themes Henriques writes about. “Something You Learn”, for example, celebrates kids’ curiosity, first experiences, and self-discovery. “It’s Hard to Wait for Your Birthday” is about learning patience, and “Mean People” talks about the types of people you’d rather just avoid.
- The music is beautiful, thoughtful, and unique…an answer to parents who might wince at more popular offerings such as KidBop or the newest Bieber album. It’s a great way to introduce kids to piano/jazz, and it’s not too childish (like Raffi) as to turn the older kids away.
- Younger kids who might not understand the lyrics will still be drawn by the music…some light and “bouncy” (as one reviewer describes), and some calm and soothing (e.g. “Green Leaf on the Ground”). Henriques reminds me a little of a Nora Jones for kids.
- As much as I love the clever lyrics, some kids will inevitably not like them or “get” them completely. If a child can be convinced to listen to it carefully, though, they might end up enjoying it. It’ll be hard not to smile and feel good about yourself.
- As mentioned before, Henriques’ songs is a great introduction to piano and jazz for kids. Music/piano teachers can use this in class to teach about the jazz genre and its characteristics.
- Teachers can use this music to calm the class down or get students moving.
- With my own kids, I would play a piece of music and have them act out the moods in the tune. They can flit, float, stomp, or bounce accordingly. What characteristics abut the music give them clues about the mood of the song?
- Lyrics can be printed out and used in a poetry lesson. What are some of themes in these songs? How does the artist use the addition of music to enhance the themes/moods/tone of the piece?
- Simply listening to the lyrics with your students/children can lead to great conversations about what Henriques means. You can talk about what it means to like yourself, what the kids like and dislike learning, what makes the kids sad, what makes them scared, etc.
- These songs/themes can be turned into writing prompts.
Awards: Winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award