"Mr. Max's Neighborhood," my new CD, is OUT!
Above Left: The cover of the new CD, from a photo that was not staged but fortuitously snapped (original is below) by a teaching colleague in Room 3 as children spontaneously did a communal banjo hands-on! (PS: The songs on the CD are accompanied by guitar, but I also use the antique hand-made banjo shown in the picture.) Right: The label on the CD itself, with a graphic of one of my favorite memories of the bond between children and teacher-companion: the day they used my hat as a track for their race cars!
Hi, everyone! My name is Max Reif. For around 20 years now, I've been working as a preschool teacher and, more recently, a preschool Aftercare "jack-of'all-trades"
guy, specializing in music, stories, bubbles, and sandbox mountains, at the Meher/White Pony Schools in Lafayette, California.
It's been my great joy to have played music for our children for this two-decade period, and to have written songs for the children to act out in our preschool Circles for nearly that entire period, as well!
People have suggested over the years that I make a CD of my original songs. This past summer in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I finally did record nearly 20 of these songs in the studio of my friend Cliff Hackford, a professional musician (Eastern and Western percussion) and music producer for many years.
We were planning to embellish and fine-tune the songs and finish the CD next summer. However, this autumn in our preschool, children have consistently been wildly enthusiastic about the songs, and have basically insisted that we do Music every day!
This has led to requests from many parents for the lyrics of the songs; and to our speeding up the schedule for the CD, which was released just before Thanksgiving, 2019! "Mr. Max's Neighborhood is now for sale for $10, with a 20% discount for orders of more than 10. To order, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just use "CD" or "Mr. Max's Neighborhood" as your subject heading.
A song called "The Hat without a Face"
I can scarcely express how thrilled I am at how alive everyone is in our Music Circles: the other teachers, who help supervise and often clap along; the children; and the parents who come in and sometimes simply can't get their kids to leave until we do their favorites!
I've been moved to the core of my being to see several of our two year-olds move from being "observers"
(it's not at all unusual for a child to want to watch for awhile before diving in to these active "musical mimes" of various
life-activities, practical and fanciful) to active participation! Last week, one of them was brave enough to be the leader of a song, the one who picks new people to join
him for each verse until finally everyone is up and jumping like a bunny, riding on the school bus, swimming in the fishbowl, or going to, and participating in, the
Parents have recently been practically begging me to make the lyrics available so that they can fully participate along with their child, at home. Of course, I'm happy to oblige! On the next page of this website, you'll find the names of 10 of our most popular songs (the ones on "Mr. Max's Neighborhood"), a brief description of each song, and the complete lyrics!
The basic songs we currently do are all up now on the page to which the link below will take you. I am
the author/composer of all of the songs except the last two, which are not on the CD, and which I include because they too are frequently requested by our children A few more songs will be added
to our Circles, and to this site, at some point. I think we have enough for a second CD, actually, but not the time to produce it until at least next summer. I'm not that prolific writer, but
demand has led to three new songs this year, and hopefully there will be lots of others, as yet dreamed of!
These children's songs accompanied by actions are really a special category of music! The closest analogies I can think of are tribal rain dances or other such chants. When writing a song, I try to encapsulate some daily activity that children and even grown-ups partake in all the time, and create something that takes it out of time, as well, into the realm of what grown-ups might call celebratory mythic enactment...and children call fun!
Let's see if what new musical adventures materialize during the coming year! My gratitude, once again, to our parents, children, teachers and administrators for your loving support!
No, all our songs are NOT about hats! It's tricky to get a really demonstrative photo, when so far as I'm aware, I'm not supposed to show children's faces (on a public Internet page). I'll look through my files for more VARIETY! :-)
A week or so ago, I saw a Dad walking down the hallway with his son, one of our students, on the way to their car. The Dad said something that at first I couldn't make out, and so. I went a little closer and asked him to repeat it.
With a big smile, he said, "Have you been playing the song, "This Train is Bound for Glory" with the children?"
"Yes," I said. "I did it one day in at playtime in our Rester's class." The children, of course, love to pretend they're driving a train, and I have a fairly extensive repertoire of beloved train songs.
The dad replied, "My son was singing it all night at home!"
I was in awe! This song, which you may know (if not, find it on YouTube) is a totally inspiring classic, in regards to the human spirit, any idea of "pretending to drive a train" aside. How did this little boy remember it from hearing it that one day?
I am amazed at the human spirit as it expresses itself in our children and our parents! The world, these days, is a challenge for all of us. But the Inspiration, the things that bond us together in what is, essentially, Love and Affirmation...Boy, do they keep on coming!
One of my favorite photos from 20 years with small children: the day the kids used my hat as their Race Car Track.
CLICK LINK TO GO TO LYRICS PAGE: