October 19, 2017 Sakamoto Emma

Danielle Daniel on writing music to go with her books

I never learned to play an instrument when I was younger, besides the flute which I played horribly (sorry, Mom.) After watching my son, Owen, practice the guitar and fill the house with song for several months, I became inspired to pick up an instrument of my own. His dedication and passion to his music motivated me to finally stop talking about someday — I made a commitment. I decided on the ukulele because it’s portable and easy to play. What I also realized is that it’s a perfect companion during the long and dark winter days in Northern Ontario.

After learning a few popular songs like “Over the Rainbow,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers, I was already itching to write music of my own. I knew I wanted to add music to my poetry for children. I thought it would be a great way for the kids to join in while I read my books. It could be an experience rather than a passive activity in listening. This way, we’re all engaged in saying the words aloud. As a former elementary school teacher, I know it’s best to have a few tricks up your sleeve or tucked inside your toolbox.

While I don’t sing the whole book because that would be too long, I do love bringing my words to life with a melody. Once in a Blue Moon is much lighter in mood compared to Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, which depicts many different emotions and characteristics. Once in a Blue Moon is about finding the magic in nature and appreciating these special moments that are rare. Of course, this song has to be uplifting and filled with glee and celebration.

Because the first line in each stanza is repeated, it does lend itself well towards creating a rhythm. It has been pure joy for me to create these little ditties and sing my words. I hope the kids feel my heart in there too. I want them to know you don’t have to have the best singing voice to share it with others.

My maternal grandfather used to play the banjo and my paternal grandfather played the harmonica (and the spoons.) All of my cousins play an instrument and they’re all musicians in their own fields; from punk to garage to techno. Family gatherings are a true jamboree. Both of my brothers are also musical and self-taught, so now you know why it has always been on my New Year’s resolution list.

Ultimately, I thank my son for showing me how much music can enrich my life. I thank him for teaching me about daily practice and patience. I’m glad I didn’t wait another year to get started. I think I’ll work on snow tunes next. Let it snow. I’m totally ready.


Once in a Blue Moon

by Danielle Daniel

Inspired by the expression “once in a blue moon,” Danielle Daniel has created a book of short poems, each one describing a rare or special experience that turns an ordinary day into a memorable one. She describes the thrill of seeing a double rainbow, the Northern Lights or a shooting star as well as quieter pleasures such as spotting a turtle basking in the sun or a family of ducks waddling across the road.

In simple words and delightful naïve images, Once in a Blue Moon celebrates the magical moments that can be found in the beauty and wonders of nature.

 

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