Music for Children

Make San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker a Holiday Tradition

December 14, 2013

SF Ballet Nutcracker

This Thursday we attended a performance of San Francisco Ballet's fantastic production of The Nutcracker. This is the Nutcracker that started it all—the San Francisco Ballet presented the first full-length performance of The Nutcracker in America way back in 1944—and as always it didn't disappoint!

We attended the first of the ballet's family performances. For these special performances, the Opera House opens at 6 pm, one hour prior to the 7 pm curtain time, and the first 500 children in the door received a cute teddy bear dressed in a scarf and Santa hat as a gift. In the lobby, costumed performers from the Nutcracker cast were on hand to greet children and for family photo opportunities. (Tip: make sure you get there early!)

Win Tickets to The Snowman at the San Francisco Symphony

December 10, 2013

The SnowmanThe 1982 animated film The Snowman is one of our favorite holiday classics, and it's even more magical when accompanied by a live orchestra and choir. It's a great way to introduce kids to the symphony, too. This season, The Snowman is part of the San Francisco Symphony's special All is Bright Christmas matinee concert featuring the Pacific Boychoir, directed by Kevin Fox.

The first half of the All is Bright program will feature orchestral holiday favorites and sing-alongs with the Boychoir and soloists. Highlights include A Christmas Festival Overture and Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, Carol of the Bells, Do You Hear What I Hear?, and more.

The second half of the program includes the 26-minute animated film The Snowman accompanied by the orchestra. All concert-goers will receive a complimentary glowing concert favor from the Symphony. Performances take place on Friday, December 20 and Saturday, December 21 at 2 pm.

Marin Musical Mompreneur Julia Norton

April 29, 2013

Julia NortonIf you've enjoyed any of the numerous song-filled offerings from Bay Area Children's Theatre, then you might very well already be familiar with the work of Marin mom Julia Norton, who serves as musical director for many of their productions, including the current Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. She's also a composer, singer, award-winning recording artist, and teacher.

Marin Mommies caught up with Julia and asked her a few questions about her career, music, and what she and her family love about living in Marin. Learn more about her at

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. What's your background, and how did you get your musical career started?

A: According to my mum, I have been singing since before I could talk. I remember writing my first song with my best friend Lynne when we were 5 or maybe 6. It wasn't much to speak of lyrically and had lots of "la la las" in it, but we thought that if we wore matching pink cardigans, we might fool the public. Aged 8, I joined the village church choir with my mum. It was a 14th-century church and had gargoyles and gravestones carved in old English lettering. There I fell in love with early music, close harmonies and the dark and twisty lyrics that went with them.

An Interview with Susan Z - Star of this Year's Mountain Play

May 14, 2012

Suzan Zelinsky in the Music Man at the Mountain PlayMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin Mom and writer Gabrielle Cullen.

Here’s a cheer for the moms who have found a way to balance family, fun and self fulfillment! One of Marin’s most musical moms, Susan Zelinsky, has the luck, and the talent, to be doing just that, and so on the cusp the 99th annual Mountain Play, (she has the starring role of Marian Paroo in The Music Man,) Marin Mommies sat down with Susan in hopes of revealing the secrets to her success.

How long have you been in musical theater?

I’ve been involved in acting, music and song since high school. I continued on in college and have been fortunate to have music and theater play a key role in my life ever since.

As a mother, what do you enjoy most about Mountain Play?

Being able to perform in a wonderful production such as Mountain Play has given me the best of both worlds. I am able to be involved in my children’s lives, work around crazy family schedules and still have a wonderful outlet for my craft.

How else do you use your performing talents?

Delicious New Family Music from Orange Sherbet

April 16, 2012

Delicious by Orange SherbetCelebrate food, the seasons, healthy eating, and fun with Orange Sherbet's new full-length family CD Delicious. Due for release on May 15, 2012, Delicious serves up 17 tasty toe-tapping tunes that encourage families to eat, grow, prepare, and enjoy different foods.

Delicious is the perfect CD to listen to on the way to the grocery store or farmer's market, or while preparing a meal for the family. We've been listening to our review copy of Delicious quite a bit, and love the upbeat tunes on the CD, especially "Waffle Day", the title track "Delicious", and the "Garden Song/Inch by Inch".

The only drawback to Delicious is that you'll probably get hungry after listening to it!

Songs on Delicious are in turn jazzy, folksy, and funky, and will appeal to everyone in the family—kids and parents alike.

Family Fare at Ghiringhelli's in Novato

October 12, 2011

Dancing at Family FareWe finally had a chance to check out the Family Fare series at Novato's Ghiringhelli Pizzeria Grill & Bar. Ghiringhelli's Novato restaurant is a relative newcomer on the Marin dining scene (they've had another location in Fairfax since 1985), and has created this series of Monday night events with families of young children in mind. Each Family Fare event features a local children's musician or performer, arts and crafts, and other activities, in addition to dining from Ghiringelli's menu.

On our visit we ate pizza while local kid music legend Miss Kitty performed. Family Fare takes place in the restaurant's event room, where, in addition to dining tables, a large padded "dance floor" and activity tables were set up. Activity table offerings included coloring and painting, and a Wii console was available on a nearby flat-screen TV for game playing. Tables were covered with butcher paper and cups of crayons encouraged us to draw on our tablecloths.

A New Home for San Rafael's Parents Center

April 27, 2011

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin, new home of the Parents CenterThe Parents Center is moving! Offering support, advice, information, and activities for parents, parents-to-be, and young children, the Parents Center moves out of its original home in San Rafael's Heller's children's store and relocates after a brief hiatus to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin in Terra Linda. The Parents Place will operate out of Heller's until May 5, and programs start again at the new location on May 18, starting with Little Music Circle. Little Music Circle, taught by Parents Center founder and program director Georgia Montgomery, has the distinction of being the only program of its kind in Marin where families only pay for classes they attend (make-up classes can be attended at any time); drop-ins are welcome, too.

Their drop-in New Moms Support Group, with a breastfeeding and newborn care specialist facilitating, begins May 31 and continues on Tuesdays at 11 am. The Parents Center also offers infant/child CPR and choke-saving classes, as well as other special programs througout the year. Check their website for schedule and registration information.

Music Classes and Parties with Ali Weiss and Mini Music

March 23, 2011

Ali Weiss and Mini MusicStill looking for a great music class for your little one? Check out the offerings from Mini Music, run by local singer/songwriter Ali Weiss. Ali teaches interactive music classes for children ages 0–5 at locations throughout Marin County—including Mill Valley and San Rafael—and in Petaluma and Sebastopol.

Children attend classes with a parent or caregiver and receive a CD at the beginning of the ten-week session. Over the length of the session participants learn all the songs on the CD and explore them through singing, movement, and instrument play accompanied by both live and recorded music. The CD, produced by Ali and featuring her and various other musicians, includes mostly traditional, as well as some modern children's songs, and original material.

Mompreneur: Musical Fun with Susan Z

February 14, 2011

Susan Z performsThere are many musicians who perform for children in Marin, but there are only a few who have a cult following among the 0–6 demographic. Susan Zelinsky—AKA Susan Z—is one of those few. You and your child may even have taken one of her classes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, or you may have seen her performing her music for grownups at venues throughout the Bay Area.

We caught up with Susan Z and asked her some questions about herself, her music, her family, and living and working in Marin. To find out more about Susan Z, visit her website at

Please tell us a little about yourself. What's your background, and how did you get your musical career started?

I always knew I wanted to sing and act when I grew up. My parents were very supportive, signing me up for voice and music lessons as a child, sending me to drama camp and ACT’s Young Conservatory. I learned piano and guitar around 4th grade, choosing to

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